Creamy chicken noodle, Mulligan stew, Italian sausage chili … sounds good, doesn’t it? Those were some of the stars at the SOUPer Bowl in Starkville Saturday. Area chefs showcased their original recipes in an event presented by the Starkville Main Street Association at the STAGgerIN Sports Grill. As ticket holders sampled and voted for their favorites, members of the Starkville Young Professionals selected a Best of Show for overall presentation. Canned soups were collected for the St. Joseph Catholic Church food pantry.
The event first hosted by the Starkville Young Professionals several years ago went on brief hiatus but two years ago returned under the mantle of the Main Street Association.
“It came back to a very warm welcome,” said Jennifer Prather, special events and projects coordinator.
Unique and savory flavors were on parade as staff from Bin 612 (local Edam cheese and SweetGum Standby Ale soup), Commodore Bob’s Yacht Club (mango chicken Habanero stew), Central Station Grill (creamy chicken noodle soup), Oby’s (turnip green soup), 929 Coffee Bar (charred jalapeno corn chowder), Restaurant Tyler (Italian sausage chili), STAGgerIN (gumbalaya), and The Veranda (Mulligan stew) were on hand to serve the public.
All the soups, stews and chilis were top notch, but at the end of the day Central Station Grill’s creamy chicken noodle took home first place in the popular vote.
“We thought this was a soup that deserved to be in competition,” said Terry Long, general manager at the Grill.
The Grill’s Chef Leon Jefferson perfected the recipe that boasts roasted vegetables, spices, heavy cream and a fluff of potatoes.
“We wanted to make it very creamy and velvety,” remarked Jefferson, who prepared the dish the night before, giving the flavors time to marry. “This is really a soup for the ages.”
Rounding out the top three in the taste category this year were Bin 612’s Edam and SweetGum ale soup placing second, and STAGgerIN’s gumbalaya at third.
Oby’s presentation of turnip green soup garnered the Best of Show award. The recipe is one Oby’s owners Don and Danya O’Bannon made for the inaugural soup event.
“We made this years ago for the very first SOUPer Bowl, and many people enjoyed it,” said Danya O’Bannon. Even people who aren’t turnip greens fans end up enjoying the blended flavors, she added.
“My husband, ‘Oby,’ and I really enjoy soups for dinner at night, so we’re always experimenting with different recipes. This soup has been voted No. 1 in our house; we prepare it often.”
SOUPer Bowl participants enjoy challenging themselves in good-natured competition. The 929 Coffee Bar specializes in beverages, gourmet pastries, quiche and baked goods, rather than a full-service menu. But when the call went out for soups, general manager Chad Barasch, chef Jamie Jackson and one of the coffee bar’s owners put their heads together.
“We had kind of that Southwest style going on,” said Barasch of their charred jalapeno corn chowder. “A lot of what we wanted to do with it was to get the big knock of sweet corn kind of at the front and balance that with some level of spice — and we wanted to make sure our spice was clean, one that cleaned your palate. We put jalapenos over a flame and added them to the soup and as garnish, so people could control their spice.”
There’s also the reward of doing something as a community, for the community.
SOUPer Bowl is high on Grill general manager Terry Long’s list.
“This is one of my favorite events that we do,” he said. “It’s always a good time, and all the soups are good. Once the crowd dies down we usually get the chance to trade out, to try everybody’s soups. We all typically walk away with a pretty full belly.”
Winter is a prime time for the warmth and comfort of soup. And Super Bowl Sunday is a prime time to serve it up as a halftime hit.
TURNIP GREEN SOUP BY OBY’S
12 inches of diced link sausage
1 stick of butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 32-ounce container chicken broth
16-ounce package of turnip greens
8 chopped carrots
8 quartered new potatoes
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper
(Source: Danya O’Bannon, Oby’s, Starkville)
COMMODORE BOB’S 2014 FIRST PLACE SPICY PORK AND KALE SOUP
1 pound pasta noodles of choice
1 1/2 pounds mild or spicy Italian sausage
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon of sambal oelek (red chili paste, at most grocery stores)
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
5 cups vegetable broth
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 large bunch of kale (remove stem and tear into 1 inch pieces)
1 bunch green onion, sliced, greens and light green part only
(Source: Commodore Bob’s Yacht Club, 2014, Starkville)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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