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Souper Bowl celebrates 25 years

January 30, 2019

It’s the 25th year of Santa Fe’s beloved Souper Bowl, but don’t worry: Nobody’s breaking out the silver for this anniversary party.

The spirited chef competition — a fundraiser for The Food Depot — will offer up sippable 2-ounce cups of more than two dozen specially crafted soups for the event’s 1,000-plus attendees. It returns from noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

But this year’s festivities include a VIP twist, said Jill Dixon, director of development for The Food Depot. While general admission tickets ($35 in advance for adults, $40 the day of) get you in at noon, a limited number of $75 tickets grant entry an hour earlier.

The line-skipping option is not only suited for people who need extra mobility or less of a crowd, Dixon said, it also boosts your charitable contribution to The Food Depot, which provides 5.5 million meals to nine counties in Northern New Mexico annually. Last year, she said, the Souper Bowl’s net proceeds of about $45,000 provided the community with 180,000 meals.

“We’re so grateful for the incredible support of the community and the fact that this event continues to be so well loved and have so much energy involved in it,” Dixon said. “It’s a real inspiration to see all walks of the community come together and be so engaged and so excited year after year. And knowing the impact that has on our community makes it all the more delightful.”

Regardless of your entry time, you’ll be walking into a full-bowl soup situation. Chef Kimnath Nou of Nath’s Inspired Khmer Cuisine, last year’s overall winner, will return to defend her title alongside chefs competing in cream, savory, seafood and vegetarian categories. Guests can load up trays with a category’s worth of samples, then vote for their favorites. A leaderboard updates several times during the event, voting closes at 2 p.m., and the winner is announced at the bowl’s end.

“[Attendees] taste according to whatever their strategy is, and most people have one,” Dixon said. “You see people furiously taking notes.”

Winners receive certificates, and the overall victor gets to display the Souper Bowl trophy in their restaurant for a year — as well as retain some serious bragging rights.

As for attendees? Souper Bowl seems to simmer at the crux of charity, culinary curiosity and community.

“Souper Bowl seems to break down some of the social boundaries we have now, where maybe we don’t talk as readily to our neighbors,” Dixon said. “People are all there for the same reasons: We’re there to help feed our neighbors, we’re there to alleviate hunger, and we want to taste some really good soups by some local chefs that we all love. So people are more willing to talk to each other, say excuse me, and make recommendations.”

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