Gourmet Girl: The Best Soup in Santa Fe
While two teams of football players were gearing up for Super Bowl LIV last Saturday, a heated competition was underway at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center to determine which Santa Fe soup would take home the trophy at Souper Bowl XXVI.
A crowd of some 1,200 people sampled 24 soups made by top chefs across the city and then cast votes for the best in four categories—Cream, Seafood, Savory andVegetarian—as well as for the champion trophy, Best Overall Soup. This year, Santa Fe's Best Soup award went to Xavier Grenet of L'Olivier for his sumptuous, flavorful Chocolate Cherry Espelette Pepper, a chocolate-based soup that won the hearts and souls of those who tasted it.
Del Charro at the Inn of the Governors picked up the Best Cream award for its Green Chile Chicken Chowder, a combo of flavors that's hard to resist and a longtime favorite dish on the restaurant's menu. The Best Savory award went to Chef Colten Johnson and his team at AGAVE Restaurant & Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa for a Winter Squash Soup with Mole-Spiced Onions, Pumpkin Seeds and Granny Smith apples. If you missed it at the Souper Bowl, not to worry for you can order the soup from AGAVE's menu.
The Best Seafood honor went to the Santa Fe School of Cooking team, which concocted a new recipe for a delectable Avocado Gazpacho with Seared Scallops, Chile Dusted Tortilla Strips and Jicama Relish. No doubt this dish will join the cooking school's repertoire and you can take one of their classes to learn how to make it. Multiple Souper Bowl award-winner Ahmed Obo of Jambo Cafe picked up yet another win this year for Best Vegetarian soup with his Ginger Coconut Parsnip with Roasted Sweet Corn.
Congrats to all of this year's Souper Bowl winners and also to the The Food Depot, which benefits from this annual fundraiser in its mission to serve more than 440,000 meals each month to our neighbors in need across northern New Mexico.
Just because the Souper Bowl is over is no reason to stop savoring excellent soup, for it's available year-round. Consider, for instance, two versions of tantalizing tortilla soup available at La Plazuela at La Fonda and also at Amaya at Hotel Santa Fe. La Plazuela's Signature Tortilla Soup is rich and rewarding, made with a chicken broth base enhanced by roasted tomato pasilla and flavored with pulled chicken, cheese, avocado and lime tortilla strips. Amaya's Red Chile Tortilla Soup has a tiny bit of heat that's offset by avocado crema, asadero and crispy tortilla chips.
If you're on a gluten-free diet, and even if you're not, you'll likely love the Chicken & Mushroom soup that Matt Yohalem's cooked up at his il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen. The hearty stock is flavored with sweet onions, carrots and sherry wine, for good measure. Have you tried the soupe à l'oignon, or classic French onion soup from Madame Matisse? It's homemade and it's so authentic and delicious, it's enough to make a Parisienne weep from homesickness after just one spoonful. You'll want to follow your soup with an almond croissant or a pain au chocolate just so you can keep pretending that you're dining in a cafe on the Champs-Élysée.
Or take your tastebuds to New Orleans with a bowlful of Vinaigrette's classic Cajun gumbo, filled with andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp and rice. And when you're craving a bowl of old-fashioned chicken and matzoh ball soup, you can find that in Santa Fe, too, at New York Deli, along with a bagel or bialy to go with it. There's really no better place for slurping your soup than in Santa Fe.