This year, I was lucky enough to snag some tickets to the Souper Bowl. I know what you’re thinking: “Why even bother? The Colts weren’t even in it this year!” Fair point, but I was excited to go because this competition is about whose soup scores the most points, not whose team.
Second Helpings is a non-profit operating in the southeast part of town that focuses on reducing food waste, feeding the hungry, collaborating with several local charitable organizations (both religious and non-denominational), and training the newest generation of up-and-coming chefs in their popular “jobs training program.” The organization has been around since 1998, and since its inception has provided over 12,502,794 meals to people in the Indianapolis area. (With over 1,000,000 in 2018, alone!)
I started volunteering there in August of last year, and since then volunteer regularly in the kitchen chopping vegetables, wrapping pans of food, and sorting produce. If that’s not your thing, there are several other ways to get involved: some people host food drives, some volunteer as delivery drivers, and some help host large events, such as this one.
To support its operation, Second Helpings hosts two big fundraisers: “Souper Bowls” and “Corks and Forks.” Both raise a large percentage of the money used to fund the Culinary Jobs Training Program as well as their mission to provide hunger relief. Souper Bowls began in 2012, the year Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl (XLVI). Second Helpings decided that this would be an opportunity to draw attention to its mission while fueling the city’s excitement for the upcoming game.
So what is Souper Bowls, exactly? It’s a good ol’ fashioned cook-off. Renowned chefs throughout Indianapolis compete to see who can whip up the best bowl of soup. Attendees can vote for their favorite bowl, and the winner receives bragging rights and the unending thanks of the organization.
This year’s contestants included: chefs Eli Laidlaw and Jeremy Martindale of The Alexander Hotel, with their Chicken Chili Verde; chef Israel Tarango of the Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant served up New England Clam Chowder; chef Roger Hawkins of Circle City Soups and his Sweet Corn Chowder; chefs Rebecca Hostetter and Peter Blum of Duos Kitchen with their Chick Pea Stew and Mini Toast; chef Brandon Nichols of Mass Ave Pub with Chicken Casablanca; chef Dave Foegley of Peterson’s Restaurant and his Lobster Bisque; and finally, chef Chuck Brezina of Subito and his Beef Stew.
I was able to sample a few of the soups, which I consider amazing as there were so many people in attendance. It was great to see people in all walks of life, in all areas of industry, and of all areas of the city convene under one roof and around warm bowls of soup. (Especially in this weather!) In addition, there were several high-topped tables situated throughout the area; between that and the volunteers passing out bread and water, the whole event had a chic “cocktail party” feel.
If this sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday, keep an eye out for next year’s event. Tickets go fast! This year, the event was sold out more than a month before the event, and with tickets modestly priced at just $10 each, I can certainly see why.
Congratulations to chef Roger Hawkins for your award-winning Sweet Corn Chowder! Together, he and the other chefs who participated helped raise over $5,000 for the Culinary Jobs Training Program and hunger relief. It’s true what they say: in the middle of winter, there’s certainly nothing like a warm bowl of soup.
Alexandra (“Alex”) Sumner is a Chicago native who relocated to The Indy City. A current 3L at IU McKinney School of Law, she loves reading, writing, and binge-watching the Food Network. When she’s not nose-deep in a textbook, you can find her thrift shopping, sleeping, or wishing she was at brunch. @baby_lawyer_alex_