The Souperbowl – A Bit Late But Still Delicious

by theelvee_w2oe3m

Well,  I’m completely late on posting this because real life has been getting in the way of posting about delicious foods.  Well, that’s all taken care of now and we can get down to business.  I’m going to go ahead and do a recap of one of the most deliciously gluttonous events I’ve ever attended: Artsquest‘s Souperbowl which took place on January 31st.  The event was a sold-out fundraiser for the B-Smart After School Program.

The Souperbowl was held at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem and pitted a ton of restaurants against each other to win the best soup in six different categories.  Thanks to using Twitter and bugging people, I was put on as a judge for the competition.  There were a ton of great soups there, some better than others, but a few really blew me away.  I’m going to list each soup by category and go into detail about a few of the stand-out soups.  (Winners are in bold/italics)

Russian Borsch by Black Forest Deli
Mexican Chicken Tortilla by Black Forest Deli
Borscht by Cathy’s Creative Catering and Cafe
Magiritsa by Yianni’s Taverna

Cream of Tomato by Black Forest Deli
Lost Treasure by Dutch Springs
Cream of Asparagus by Island Expressions
Crab Bisque by Windsor Deli
Lobster Bisque by Zoup

New England Clam Chowder by Cathy’s Creative Catering and Cafe
Lobster Stew by Daisy Hill Market
New England Clam Choweder by Outback Steakhouse Bethlehem
Crab and Sweet Corn chowder by Susan’s Gourmet Shop and Catering
Chicken Corn Chowder by Tally-Ho
Spicy Potato and Japaleno Cheddar by The Bethlehem Brew Works

Pureed Pumpkin Soup by Cathy’s Creative Catering and Cafe
Pepperjack Potato Cauliflower by Deja Brew
Seafood Gumbo by Goosey Gander
Shrimp and Rice by Island Expressions
BLT by Main Street Depot
Stuffed Pepper by Susan’s Gourmet Shop and Catering
Chicken Dumpling by Wegmans
Prasosoupa by Yianni’s Taverna

Butternut Squash Habanero by Blue Sky Cafe
Butternut Squash with Apple Sage Ravioli and Cardamon Cream by Hampton Winds
Winter Caparese by Looper’s Grille and Bar
Moroccan Lentil with Millett by Maison Blanc Caterers
Carrot and Ginger by Starfish Brasserie
Tomato Bisque by Zoup

Sausage White Bean by Blue Sky Cafe
Chicken Tortilla Soup by Cactus Blue Mexican Restaurant
Chipolte Chicken and Black Bean by Cathy’s Creative Catering and Cafe
Cheeseburger Soup by Shruty’s Pub
PepperPot by Spiro’s Restaurant
Overstuffed Bell Pepper by Zoup

So let’s go over some of the more interesting soups and some reflections.  Ethnic-wise I’ll be honest…I’m not a huge borsch fan at all.  I like warm red beets, but the soup just doesn’t do it for me.  The Margaritsa was easily one of the most interesting soups of the entire event as a traditional greek soup made using lamb and infusing lemon for a unique experience.

The cream-based stuff was all pretty mediocre with the exception of Island Expression’s cream of asparagus which was not necessarily delicious, but a really interesting mix.  The consistency was fantastic but the aftershock of the asparagus taste was a bit too intense for my comfort.  I think with some tinkering and downgrading of the amount of asparagus it could work its way into a great recipe.  (Side note: I wonder if it makes your pee smell?)

Moving onto the chowders, Brew Works was my first soup of the day and man, I’m a sucker for anything jalapeno in it.  I’ve never seen this soup on their menu but it would go just swimmingly (or snowingly?) on a cold winter day.  BW could easily throw down some style of chipolte-infused ale to go with it for a spicy pairing.  I was also pleasantly surprised with Tally Ho’s corn chowder, but I really shouldn’t have been since I’ve never had a terrible meal there.

The original category was a hard one for me to decide a winner as there were so many different, creative soups there is was really hard to narrow it down.  The BLT, Stuffed Pepper, and Chicken Dumpling were all exemplary, but the most striking and downright delicious soups there was the Pureed Pumpkin Soup.  I mean, wow, I had at least two cups of this, and considering I tried everything and was bursting at the seams, that’s saying something.  They presumably take all of the typical pumpkin spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) and turn them into this sweet-tooth soup that will leave you begging for more.  To top it off?  Tiny little “pie crust” balls to throw in there and add an interesting texture.  Beautiful.

Now let’s roll onto the vegetarian offerings.  As soon as I saw Blue Sky Cafe was serving their Habanero Butternut Squash I thought I had a definite winner before I even started tasting (as I loved it at the Taste of the LV event).  When I tasted it I was a tad disappointed as I thought I remembered it having a little more of a kick, but luckily there was some 600,000 scoville hotsauce sitting there on the table begging to be mixed in.  It was hot, and it was delicious.  It was another butternut squash derivative, though, that stole the entire competition.

The Hampton Winds, run by students of Northampton County Community College’s culinary program, absolutely dominated my tastebuds with their Butternut Squash with Apple Sage Ravioli and Cardamon Cream.  WOW.  Perfect consistency, not too thick, not too watery, and monumental flavor from a vegetable with a usually muted flavor really gave this soup a beautiful base to work with.  Then they’d throw in these hand-crafted raviolis stuffed to the core with apples and fresh sage cooked up in apple cider, and ingeniously topped with a rich, striking cardamon cream.  An award-winning dish for sure, these students have a bright future in the culinary world and I do hope they all stay around the valley and create savory dishes in the years to come.  They also picked up the award for People’s Choice, which was a surprise to me because I figured most wouldn’t appreciate the eclectic and labor-intensive dish.  P.S. if you’re looking for a challenge and the recipe to this delicious dish, Artsquest has it over on their site.

And lastly, the meat-based, went to Blue Sky Cafe for their Sausage White Bean soup.  The two other pepper offerings in the category were good — but not great.  The Sausage White Bean was savory and flavorful, not much else to say there.

Overall I don’t think there were many soups that I wouldn’t eat again, so props to all of the chefs that entered, and thanks a ton to Artsquest for inviting me to be a judge!  I hope I’m invited back in the future and epic apologies for the late post…real life sucks sometimes 🙂

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