SANTA FE, NM – I saw a lot of people I knew standing in the soup lines Saturday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center at the 21st Annual Souper Bowl. Soup is such comfort food and cold winter is such a good time for comfort. And it’s a super name for a superior cause: supporting Santa Fe’s Food Depot.
It made me think of a similar fundraiser, called Empty Bowls, that I first attended in 1995. It was Old Santa Fe; a charming, funky little fundraiser someone thought up, and someone got a place for, and someone got the chefs to join in, and someone got people to come.
And someone got just about every local artist in town to make a handmade ceramic bowl, which he or she donated to the event, and you paid the entry fee and chose the original art bowl you wanted.
Then you took it around and received a ladleful of soup from the contestants to sample. Proceeds went to the hungry; the bowl was yours to keep. There was one soup winner and lotsa comraderie. Cool bowl! Great food! Fun benefit!
But the Souper Bowl is another experience altogether. It draws 1,200-1,400 people, another 100 volunteers and 29 participating restaurants. And no handmade artisan bowls; instead it’s little disposable 2-ounce plastic cups; a soupçon of every soup.
Go back to your favorite as many times as you like. Bread from Sage Bakery on the side, water to cleanse your sensitive palate between courses, if you like.
Some folks bring little trays upon which they carry their soup samples, their waters, breads, napkins – it seems to be an unspoken petite tradicion for seasoned veterans.
Categories for the soups were cream, savory, vegetarian or seafood. Four individual winners and one grand prize. People stood in a long queue for the vegetarian delight from Joseph’s; Santacafé surprised everyone with a creamy peach dessert confection; and Rio Chama did a chicken mole specialty.
You might not immediately think of the Marriott Courtyard as a paragon of gastronomical excellence, but its clam chowder, with a hint of tarragon, was sublime, maybe the best I’ve ever tasted. I am certainly going to put tarragon in mine from now on! The grand prize was won by Chef Andy Barnes from Dinner for Two for his marvelous mushroom soup … 2 ounces was just not enough!
They expected to raise $60,000 for The Food Depot, which will stretch to generate 250,000 meals, incredibly! Every dollar at The Food Depot generates four meals for needy New Mexicans.
Someone is managing the money brilliantly to get a nutritious meal for a quarter! Your $30 ticket is transformed into $120 worth of food for those who, for one reason or another, find themselves without enough to eat in New Mexico.
I thought the Food Depot was a place where you could drive up and fill your back seat with groceries. It is actually a central distributing food bank system on Siler Road, passing out food to 145 nonprofit agencies, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, emergency food pantries, day care centers, hot meal programs and youth programs throughout the state.
Half a million meals per month for 70,000 people, who receive food supplies through an agency, which receives its food from The Food Depot.
The Food Depot receives its food from suppliers’ excesses and overages, store donations, farms, hotels and restaurants, and, if someone’s backyard garden produces vegetables in profusion, they will accept that, too. The point is to feed the hungry in New Mexico!
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Day and Sandra Sunderlage sample some soup, with a side of water.
Ed and Rachel Williams come to the Souper Bowl every year.
Gaye Talley and Cael Momaday sport chapeaux at the Souper Bowl.
City Councilor Signe Lindell and Maria Sanchez greet guests at the Souper Bowl.