Soup Day continues a nursing school tradition of comfort

Students laddle soup into bowls inside

Soup is the ultimate comfort food — a well-known fact for moms, grandmas and the nurses of Lenoir-Rhyne. As part of an annual tradition, Soup Day, held on October 27, gave LR’s nursing professors an opportunity to share food, fellowship and the support of a warm bowl of soup with their students.

“All the nursing faculty do the cooking for the students” explained Kerry Thompson, Ph.D., chair of the School of Nursing. “Soup Day has been around so long that nobody really knows when it actually started, but it’s a way for us to connect with each other.”

Though the exact date is unknown for the start of this annual day, a few professors believe professor emeritus of nursing Mary Jo Danner may be the person who started it.

A person stands with a bowl of soup inside

“We had a full kitchen when the nursing school was in Highland Hall, and Mary Jo used to cook a lot for the students. Then we moved out of Highland and got fancy,” shared Judith Hilton, Ph.D., who retired as a professor of nursing in 2022.

Soup Day has endured because the students love it — in the past, some have brought their own designated bowls from home — and it reminds them that the nursing school and their professors are invested in them academically, professionally and personally.

“It’s just so comforting!” said Taylor Brown ’23. “We’re between midterms and finals, doing our clinical rotations this semester. In January we start our practicums.”

Two students look at the camera and smile

Brown attended her first Soup Day with friend Angelica Melo Perez ’23 – the two transferred together to Lenoir-Rhyne from Western Carolina University.

“It’s a nice break in the day. We had tests this morning, and this afternoon we have mock interviews to get us ready to apply for jobs, then a job fair at three” said Melo Perez. “They’re very personalized here when it comes to preparing you for jobs, graduation and testing.”

“They set up everything for your success,” Brown chimed in. “They prepare you right through the end game for graduation and going into the workplace.”

Traditionally, the School of Nursing designates a Soup Day each fall, timed to coincide with cooler weather.

“Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. One year it was 80 degrees, and we were having soup anyway,” Thompson chuckled.

Professors prepare the soup they want to bring — chicken noodle, vegetable, broccoli cheese, butternut squash, taco — and set it up in Crock Pots in the nursing lab.

“We used to just each bring one, but we have so many students now that everyone brings two pots,” Thompson shared. “We never plan who brings what, but we always have a variety.”

To spread the tradition, comfort and community of soup day, Piper Stephens, administrative assistant for the school of nursing, shared a popular recipe passed from retired professor Barbara Rauscher, Ph.D., to assistant professor Tabitha Toney, Ph.D. This chicken and rice soup was the first to run out at Soup Day 2022:

Barbara Rauscher’s Chicken and Rice Soup


4 cups of water

2 cups of Minute rice

2 cans of chicken (about 24 oz.)

4 tbsp of butter

1 pint of half and half

2 small cans of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup

2 cans of chicken broth


Combine all ingredients and simmer.

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