Trinity Episcopal Church in Carbondale has a long history of women who do their part to help their church.

And luckily for Local Flavor, it almost always revolves around food.
From monthly fundraising dinners to its Dickens Christmas dinner complete with Victorian-era costumes, there’s plenty of cooking going on in the Upvalley church — even in the middle of winter.

During the church’s Homemade Soup Sale, which runs throughout January, guests can stop by the church, 58 River St., Carbondale, on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Soup costs $5 per pint and $9 per quart and is available for takeout only, though organizers will deliver to factories near the church. Other soups offered include Clam Chowder, Italian Wedding, Minestrone, Split Pea and Ham, Chicken Noodle, and Broccoli and Cheddar.

One of the most cherished recipes, Beef Barley soup, comes a from lifelong church member, Debbie Virbitsky, whose grandmother, Edith McAndrew, perfected the recipe before passing it down through the family.

“It’s great to warm you up on a cold day,” Virbitsky said recently at the church.

The recipe earned the church a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore, through Local Flavor Gives Back. The secret to the soup, Virbitsky said, is the addition of the rutabaga. The root vegetable — a cross between cabbage and turnip — gives the soup a distinct taste.

“You don’t often see rutabega in a soup like this, and that’s what makes it have some sweetness,” Virbitsky said. “That was (my grandmother’s) little trick.”

Trinity organizers — including Virbitsky, Sandy Hickey, Bonnie Bay, Jaki Sheare, Valerie Agostini, Mary Lou Williams and Patty Turano — are always getting the church ready or in the kitchen cooking something up. “The Church Ladies,” as they call themselves, said everyone does his or her part, too. Many of the women’s mothers and grandmothers were involved with church as well. Beloved by parishioners for her meals, Sheare recently returned to cooking for the church’s monthly Thursday fundraising dinners.

In addition to its dinners, the church has hosted dozens of events annually, including a designer purse bingo, an Easter egg hunt for kids and more. It’s always a nice time, Virbitsky said, and sometimes the Rev. Bill McGinty plays guitar and sings for guests.

Community involvement is a huge part of the church’s mission, and volunteers are always needed. Whether it be family-friendly events or its monthly community dinner that’s free and open to the public, the church prides itself on its dedication to supporting Carbondale and surrounding areas.

“We just love our church, and this is all we know,” Virbitsky said. “All are welcome.”

Debbie Virbitsky’s Grandma’s Beef Barely Soup
4 pounds chuck roast, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 quarts water
2 large onions, diced
2 pounds baby carrots, diced
1 large bunch of celery, diced
2 ounces beef base
1 large rutabaga, cut into small pieces
4 cups barley
Brown beef cubes in olive oil and add water. Then, add in onions, baby carrots, celery, beef base and rutabaga. Boil soup for 3 hours on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add barley. Cover for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
If you go
What: Homemade Soup Sale
When: Mondays through Fridays through Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Trinity Episcopal Church, 58 River St., Carbondale
Details: Soup costs $5 per pint and $9 per quart and is available for takeout only. To order, call 570-282-3620.