Genesis 25:34 recounts the story of Isaac’s two sons Esau and Jacob. Talk about a sibling rivalry. Coming home from an unsuccessful hunt one day, Esau was exhausted and famished. The aroma of hot, steaming red lentil soup filled the air and he would do anything to have some. His brother Jacob, a crafty schemer, agreed to give his brother some soup in exchange for the birthright to which the elder son was entitled. Esau acquiesced.
There are two things about this popular Old Testament story that have always perplexed me:
(1) Just how good can soup possibly be that someone would renounce a birthright to have some? On Saturday, February 4th, 2023, I was privileged to serve as a judge for the eleventh time in the Roadrunner Food Bank’s annual Souper Bowl where I had my annual epiphany of just how good soup can be. The 2023 Souper Bowl, Albuquerque’s foremost tasting competition, featured thirty-two of Albuquerque’s finest eateries showcasing their very best soups and desserts. More importantly, it served as the Roadrunner Food Bank’s most attended fundraising event.
On the warmest day of an unusually cold and dry winter, throngs of Duke City diners arrived at the Roadrunner Food Bank warehouse for their favorite comfort food–the warmth and nurturance of soup. Soup is restorative, it is healing, it can uplift a troubled soul. As 32 Albuquerque chefs proved, it can also be inspired.
Even the sagacious King Solomon would have struggled to select a winner from among the scintillating fusillade of soups brought before the panel of four judges: Destiny Logan Smith, the Community Manager for Yelp; Glenn Waters, New Mexico Small Business Development Director, Gil Garduño, loquacious blogger; and TJ Trout, prominent radio personality. For the first time in nearly a decade, not sitting on the judges’ table was my friend and fellow blogger Larry McGoldrick who passed away in August, 2021. Glenn and I frequently asked ourselves “What would Larry have said about this soup?” My friend’s presence was definitely felt.
There were savory soups; dessert sweet soups; sublimely scented soups; tongue-tingling, tangy soups; incendiary, piquant soups and rich, creamy soups all seemingly seeking out, finding and tantalizing every one of our taste buds. A compendium of ingredients, spices and seasonings were deployed. Miniature tortillas were used in place of croutons on one soup. Vegan chorizo was a surprising find in another. Still another saw the captivating convergence of mushrooms and curry.
Results were tallied and winners were announced, but the true winners were the hundreds who sipped and slurped some of the very best soup conceivable. A bigger winner still are the hungry masses throughout the Land of Enchantment in need of sustenance and hope.
In honor of Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, the Roadrunner Food Bank designated the Critics’ Choice Award in his honor. Larry would have been very pleased with the results (and I’d like to think we’d have been in complete agreement):
Critics Choice Soup:
1st Place- Larry McGoldrick Award: Slate Street Billiards (Rio Rancho) for Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili
2nd Place – Gobble This (Albuquerque Old Town) for Salvi Style Turkey Sopa de Crema
3rd Place – Mas Tapas Y Vino (Albuquerque Hotel Andaluz) for Salmon and Saffron Corn Chowder
People’s Choice Soup:
1st Place – 2023 Souper Bowl Champion: Old Town Catering for Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
2nd Place – Fuego 505 for Coconut Mushroom Curry
3rd Place – Roti NM for Caldo de Pollo With Blue Corn Tortilla and Avocado
People’s Choice Vegetarian Soup:
1st Place – Fuego 505 for Coconut Mushroom Curry
2nd Place – Turtle Mountain Brewing Company (Rio Rancho) for Sweet Corn Bisque
3rd Place: Old Town Catering for Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
People’s Choice Best Booth: Special Touch Catering
How could someone not feed a brother when he is hungry? New Mexico is considered one of the most food insecure states in the nation with one of eight New Mexicans at risk of experiencing hunger. And for children, 20.5 percent or 1 in 5 arlikely to facing hunger, too. These are our brothers and sisters…and there but for the grace of God go many of us, particularly in this trying economy.
Roadrunner® Food Bank, a Feeding America member, is the largest non-profit dedicated to solving hunger in New Mexico. The food bank serves as a distribution hub and provides food to hundreds of affiliated partners around the state including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and regional food banks. Roadrunner also distributes food through its own specialized programs helping children, families and seniors at schools, healthcare locations, low-income seniors housing sites and senior centers. Last year, the food bank distributed more than 34 million pounds of food, helping tens of thousands of people facing hunger every week through a statewide hunger-relief network. For more information on helping, visit the Roadrunner Food Bank’s website; and follow the Roadrunner Food bank on social media at: www.facebook.com/roadrunner.
These are trying times in New Mexico with government and private contributions to charitable organizations on the decrease while demand for their services is on the rise. Non-profit charitable organizations such as the Roadrunner Food Bank depend upon contributions to support their activities.
There are several ways we can all contribute and we don’t have to wait until the annual Souper Bowl to do so. In fact, volunteers play a key role in Roadrunner Food Bank’s mission of feeding the hungry. Roadrunner Food Bank relies heavily on volunteers to supplement its staff members. Volunteers help sort, package and box all the donated food.
Speaking from personal experience, there is no more rewarding “team building” experience than for colleagues to get together to do something for others less fortunate. It may not be as much fun as judging a Souper Bowl, but it is infinitely more important. Other ways in which you can help feed your brothers and sisters is through monetary donations and by conducting food drives on behalf of the Roadrunner Food Bank.
In the New Testament, Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed the multitudes. Roadrunner Food Bank returns can provide up to 5 meals for every dollar donated. Please help the Roadrunner Food Bank continue to perform day-to-day miracles that touch the lives of our New Mexican brothers and sisters. Your generosity is more important now than ever!
My thanks to Sonya Warwick, the Roadrunner Food Bank’s fabulous Communications Director for her help with this post.