Fierce Competition at The Food Depot’s Souper Bowl XXIII

Santafe.com - January 25, 2017

And the winner is...

The competition was fierce: 29 top Santa Fe chefs served gallons of gourmet soup to a crowd of 1,000 hungry guests eager to vote for their favorite in the categories of cream, savory, seafood, vegeterian and best overall soup. And after all the ballots were cast, the big winner of The Food Depot's Souper Bowl XXIII —held last Saturday, January 21 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center —was Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, which took home the trophy for Best Overall Soup and the award for Best Savory Soup with a delectable Thai Cambodian Coconut Chicken soup.

Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen entered this year's Souper Bowl as the reigning champion, having won Best Seafood Soup and Best Overall Soup in 2016. But all of this year's contestants put up a great fight. As co-host of the event—along with KVSF's Richard Eeds and KSFR's Nigel Walsh—I tasted each and every soup and I can vouch that voters had a tough choice.

But choose they did, selecting Terra at the Four Seasons at Rancho Encantado's out-of-this-world green chile and corn chowder, studded with candied bacon as Best Cream soup. The Palace won Best Vegetarian soup for a creamy cauliflower soup drizzled with truffle oil. And, Kingston Residence of Santa Fe took home the Best Seafood award for a delightfully fragrant Brazilian fish stew that literally burst with flavors in your mouth. (How cool is it that a retirement community has such a great chef!)

But the biggest winner of The Food Depot's Souper Bowl each year is the fight to end hunger in northern New Mexico. As Northern New Mexico's Bank, The Food Depot provides food to more than 145 nonprofit agencies, including emergency food pantries, hot meal programs, homeless shelters, youth programs, senior centers, homes for the mentally disabled and shelters for battered persons.

Last year's Souper Bowl raised $60,000, allowing the food bank to provide food for 240,000 meals. And in 2016, The Food Depot distributed enough food for more than 5 million meals. Each month, the food bank distributes an average of 444,000 pounds of food and household products each month, providing more than 370,000 meals to the most vulnerable of the community, children, seniors, working families and those in ill health.

“We have such generous people in the community,” says Sherry Hooper, The Food Depot's executive director. “For 23 years, the community has supported this wonderful competition bringing together top area chefs, great event sponsors, volunteers for a great cause in Northern New Mexico. With the funds raised, the Souper Bowl makes an impact to help Northern New Mexicans in need throughout the year.”

As Souper Bowl day dawned this year, it was a cold and snowy morning in Santa Fe, but that didn't stop the crowd from turning out. Nor did the Women's March on Washington Santa Fe, which took place at roughly the same time and drew some 13,500 to 15,000 people. In fact, so many of the marchers made their way over to the convention center to warm up with soup that the voting was extended an additional 15 minutes in order to give them time to taste all the soups.

A giant scoreboard projected on one wall kept a running tally of the votes for all to see, and cheers erupted from the restaurant teams at various food stations as ballots were placed in jars on each restaurant's table.

Cheers to all of the Souper Bowl chefs and restaurants, the scores of volunteers who helped to keep the event running smoothly, the sponsors—including Hutton Broadcating— and the crowds who braved the snow to help end hunger in New Mexico.

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PHOTO CREDITS

1. Hundreds of people enjoy the annual Souper Bowl XXIII at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Saturday, January 21, 2017.
Photos by Jane Phillips Photography
© jane phillips photography

2. Co-owners, Fiona Wong and Soma Franks of Sweet Water Harvest Kitchen celebrate after they won two years in a row best soup at the Souper Bowl XXII at the Santa Fe Convention Center on Saturday, January 21, 2017.  They also won in the Savory Category with their Tom Kha Kai (Cambodia Thai Chicken Coconut soup.) Last year they also won best seafood with their Shrimp Tom Yum. Wong's son Tiger Wong Wagner,9, looks on.
Photos by Jane Phillips Photography
© jane phillips photography