Soup’s on


Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 5:18 p.m.

Add a dash of a high school dance team, a cup of warm soup and throw in a local celebrity or two, and you've got yourself the "Souper" Fun Sunday fundraiser.

St. Francis High School presents its second annual soup competition, which showcases local area restaurants' best soups.

This community-wide, soup tasting competition, which attracted 400 attendees last year, was modeled after a successful soup competition in Nashville, Tenn., called Soup Sunday, said Sherry Houston.

Houston, the development director for St. Francis, said 18 local restaurants will submit five gallons of homemade soup to compete in five different categories.

A team of four judges will vote on the soup recipe that is the "Most Creative," "Most Aromatic," "Judges Choice" and "Most Slurpable," a category added this year.

The panel of judges include Florida State Sen. Steve Oelrich, WCJB TV-20 anchor Paige Beck, KTK 98.5 radio host Storm Roberts and Gator First Lady Shelley Meyer.

Those who purchase a ticket - which includes to the soup tasting, a soup ballot, soup accompaniments, dessert and beverage - will vote for "Gainesville's Favorite Soup."

The event, sponsored by the St. Francis parents and development office, raises money that will provide new technology at St. Francis, and organizers hope the "Souper" Fun Sunday will become an annual tradition, Houston said.

"It's a way for us to give back to the community," she said. "This is such a fun, family event and it's inexpensive."

The competition, held in the St. Francis gym, is Sunday, one week before the Super Bowl, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and children. A family package is available for $50, which includes two adults and two children.

St. Francis students will provide entertainment and tours of the school while faculty and staff will be available to answer questions.

"People get the chance to see how dazzling we are," Houston said.

St. Francis staff member Marty Slevin, who cooks for the school, will be cooking a chicken and sausage gumbo for the competition.

Slevin said soup is the perfect combination of a filling meal that's easy to eat.

"It's the kind of thing you want on a cold day," said Slevin, who studied at The Culinary Institute of America and worked at Emeril's Restaurant in Walt Disney World.

Omi Risco, owner of Omi's Kitchen, won last year's "Gainesville's Favorite Soup" title with her Cheesy Vegetable soup.

Risco said she is hoping to win another title this weekend, when she will make a lobster bisque.

"When you're a winner from last year, the pressure is on," Risco said.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Sherry Houston at 248-0356.

Cheesy Vegetable Soup from Omi's Kitchen

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cans (14- 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth

2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli

3/4 cup chopped carrots, sauteed

1/2 cup chopped celery, sauteed

1 small chopped onion, sauteed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 egg yolk

1 cup whipped cream

1- 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded swiss cheese

  • Melt butter in a large, heavy sauce pan over low heat. Add flour. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat.
  • Gradually blend in broth. Return to heat. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir one minute longer.
  • Add the next seven ingredients. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and cream. Gradually stir in several teaspoons of hot soup, return all to pan, stirring until slightly thickened. Simmer 19-20 minutes longer.
  • Stir in cheese and heat over medium heat until melted. Do not boil, otherwise the soup will curdle.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Napolatano's Chef Jacob's Loaded Smoked Gouda & New Potato Soup

8 ounces butter

4 ounces minced garlic

2 ounces minced shallots

1 cup bacon bits

2 tablespoons Montreal seasoning

2 ounces dill

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup white wine

3 quarts heavy cream

4 cups diced red potatoes

4 cups smoked Gouda

Sour cream and chives for garnish

Saute the first six ingredients in a pot. Cook for 15 minutes. Add chicken stock and white wine, and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream. When the cream is hot, add potatoes, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add cheese. Turn the heat off when cheese melts, and continue to stir. Garnish.

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