Soup may be a warming winter favourite, but it may also be the key to strengthening Illawarra communities.
On Friday, Illawarra SOUP will host its first "micro-financing" dinner in Warilla. Based on a concept started in Detroit, individuals or groups front the dinner to present their idea for a community project - be it a local newsletter, performance, construction project or anything else to benefit the area.
A meal of soup and bread is provided for a small donation, with dinner guests voting on which project they will support with the money raised.
"It is for people who want to do small things for their neighbourhood or area, and just need a little kick-start funding," said SOUP committee member Brian Pember.
"You pay $5 and get a bowl of soup and a vote."
Mr Pember, involved in numerous community projects in the Illawarra's southern suburbs, said he had often heard of promising initiatives that failed at the first hurdle because they could not raise seed money.
"If they had a bit of money, they could start it."
Illawarra SOUP will run events in Warilla and Thirroul in coming weeks, and hope to raise several hundred dollars at each one, but Mr Pember said the concept was not merely about the money.
"It is a forum to talk and float ideas. It's about getting a bunch of like-minded people, who want to do good in their community, sharing ideas," he said.
The first SOUP event will be held on Friday at Warilla-Barrack Point surf club from 6pm. Positions to present pitches are full, but all are welcome to attend and vote.
The next event will be held at the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre on August 22, and dinners in each suburb will be held biannually.