Souper Bowl 2023 – Soups to Soothe The Soul

After A Two Year Hiatus, the Roadrunner Food Bank Souper Bowl Returned on 4 February 2023

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.

32 of the Albuquerque Area’s Very Best Restaurants Competed for Honors

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.

The Lucky Judges: Destiny Logan Smith, Glenn Waters, Gil Garduno, TJ Trout

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.

The Larry McGoldrick Critics Choice Award

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 Dessert:
1st Place: Nothing Bundt Cakes
2nd Place: Roti NM
Third Place: Special Touch Catering

People’s Choice Best Booth: Special Touch Catering

Barbara Chase (Center), One of Larry McGoldrick’s Dearest Friends, Presents the Larry McGoldrick Critics Choice Award

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:,,, or

Winners of the Larry McGoldrick Critics Choice Award: Slate Street Billiards

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.

17 thoughts on “Souper Bowl 2023 – Soups to Soothe The Soul

  1. Souper Bowl is my favorite foodie event and my favorite charitable event combined. It is such a great time, for such a great cause! I mark it on my calendar years in advance – the Sunday before the Super Bowl is the Souper Bowl, easy to remember lol. Sadly I have not been able to attend in a while, but here is a picture from several years ago showing some of the soups and desserts from that year, all lined up for tasting and People’s Choice voting. One of my great pleasures in life is tasting things – not big eating, just tasting – and anything that provides 30+ things to taste in one event is my idea of heaven. Hope everyone reading this blog can make it next year – if you are reading Gil’s blog then you are the kind of person who will enjoy this event. And bring family and friends, it’s a lot of fun to hear everyone’s opinions of the various soups and argue about who should be the winner. : )

    1. Thank you, Linda

      I missed you at the Souper Bowl. You would have had a blast!

      Perhaps because the possibility of more Covid variants still looms large, 2023’s Souper Bowl was not sold out and tickets were available at the door. The Souper Bowl is an event that should always be sold out. It’s the social event of the year for me.


  2. Wow, sounds like I missed not only a great feed but a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community. If that isn’t spiritual I don’t know what is! After reading this review I wanted to do two things. 1. Heat up a bowl of soup and 2. Write a large check to the Roadrunner Food Bank. A nine to one return is very impressive. I can easily build on your metaphors, Gil, because you have opened my eyes. “Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen.” – Isaiah 32:3

    1. Thank you, Lynn. I love that passage from Isaiah. I hope you and John are able to attend Souper Bowl 2024. Honestly, I’d rather attend that event than that ballyhooed football game my Cowboys never make it to.

  3. So thats what you look like. I always pictured you weighing 500 pounds. SHucks, you can’t be more than 498 pounds.

        1. Hi Gil,
          Since the Covid Plague has changed our country, causing the Alibi to fold; you are our only source of restaurant news: Thanks.
          That Souper Bowl sounds great. Maybe next year, you could let us know about it a couple of weeks in advance? Any suggestions in the live music scene would Aldo’s be welcomed.
          Jeff chefetz

          1. Hi Jeff

            It’s been far too long. I hope you and the delightful Anna are doing well and that the Cabrona virus hasn’t visited Casa Chefetz.

            Of all the culinary competitions I’ve judged, the Souper Bowl is my very favorite. The Roadrunner Food Bank crew puts on a great event and the soups are fabulous. You can tell their hearts–the Roadrunner staff and the chefs–are really into it. I’ll do my best to apprise readers of Gil’s Thrilling…well in advance of Souper Bown 2024. Typically the event is held on the Saturday preceding that much ballyhooed football game in which my Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in 287 years.

            I don’t know much about Albuquerque’s live music scene, but live music is yet another reason to attend the Souper Bowl. A live band amped up the fun and got guests dancing (I didn’t wear my dancing shoes).


  4. Until just now I had not heard of Larry’s passing. I am sorry for your loss. I know he was a dear friend.

    Thank you for the post on this year’s Souper Bowl! I enjoyed it and loved that the Critic’s Choice Award is now the Larry McGoldrick Critic’s Choice Award.

    1. Hi MaryAnn

      Larry was a loss to the entire community. He was a selfless and altruistic man with a beautiful heart.

      The Roadrunner Food Bank is one of the very best organizations with which I’ve been associated. It’s as much a family as it is a team. They’re all committed to feeding hungry people throughout the state and do a tremendous job at it. Larry loved being a judge at the Souper Bowl. I imagine he enjoyed the event from his Heavenly cloud.


    2. Me too, MaryAnn.

      Gil, our condolences for your loss. I always found Larry a charming conversationalist and was inspired by his passion for food and for sharing that passion through his writing. The mark he leaves is indelible. *h & b.

      1. Thank you, Hannah. I hope you and Bryan had had a happy Hannahmas and that your New Year’s resolution was to resurrect “Drive to Place.” I miss your captivating podcast.

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