Jeff and I and a group of our friends have changed Super Bowl Sunday into Souper Bowl Saturday! At least we did this past Saturday evening. No players were injured and the lights didn’t go out, but there was some trash talk!
On this dreary, gray, drizzly morning (almost afternoon), I am reflecting on our competition over a wonderful veggie and ricotta frittata. Just thinking about all the soups is making me feeI a little warmer. But I am longing for another cup of coffee, so hang on a moment please…….
OK, I’m back and caffeine is once again flowing through my system. Ahhhhhh!
In January, our friends Don and Rena invited a group of couples to their house for dinner, games, and a cookie bake-off (see Hope & Soap). We had a great time of laughter, fellowship and competition. It was so much fun that we decided to do it again!
This time Jeff and I hosted Souper Bowl MMXIII. We invited the couples from the cookie bake-off and we invited another couple to serve as judges. Deciding who to invite to judge the competition was pretty easy – the criteria (1) value marriage, (2) enjoy good food, and (3) have a healthy sense of competition and a love of playing games! Shawn and Susie more than fit the bill, and we joked that a pastor and his wife were likely bribe-proof!!!
Deciding what soup to make wasn’t easy for Jeff and I, and our friend Donna told us it wasn’t easy for her either. In fact, Donna and I were often on Pinterest at the same time trolling for recipes and had fun ribbing one another to stay off the other’s boards!
Each couple brought their soup entry in a crock pot (so we could keep everything warm). Since our friend Darrell is an exceptional bread baker, he volunteered to bring bread to serve with the soup. Don & Rena said they would bring a salad, but what they actually brought was a fantastic salad bar! Rena used her divided Pampered Chef Chillzanne Platter to serve a variety of yummy toppings for the spinach she used as the salad base. I made the Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake about which I have previously written for dessert and Donna also brought a Pinterest find that she wanted to try – peanut butter and chocolate bars – and they were a-mazing!
As I write this post I realize the cold I’ve been fighting must have gotten the best of me….I don’t have pictures of the bread, the desserts, or any of the couples other than the judges. What in the world…….my apologies!
The evening started with some chitchat while the finishing touches were put on the soups and soup garnishes. The soups were numbered and labelled for judging and the criteria were explained to the group. Each soup was to be rated on 5 categories – originality, appearance, texture, aroma, and taste. Each category had a ten point scale. After the judges completed their ratings, the points would be totaled and a winner would be declared. It was during this explanation that we learned that our friend Shawn was a math major in college, but is (by his own admission) arithmetic-challenged. Hmmmm!
Thankfully Susie was there to do the arithmetic and the judging could begin. Susie and Shawn took their time trying each soup and making their ratings. At first the rest of us just watched them, but then we realized two things – (1) we were probably making them nervous, and (2) being hungry and watching others eat was not a great plan! So we retired to the living room until Susie and Shawn were ready to announce the results.
Let me back up for a moment and tell you about the soups. Jeff & I made a Roasted Tomato, Corn & Chicken Soup with avocado for garnish. The recipe is our adaptation of a recipe we found in a Williams-Sonoma Catalog over the summer. I will tell you that making the soup in the summer has a better result because the produce is fresh and roasting the veggies on the grill lends a great deal more flavor to the soup, but it was still a great contender. Carmen & Scott made a Chicken Taco Soup that was served with three garnishes – tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Don & Rena made a Potato Soup and when Rena explained to me and Carmen that she forgot to bring the cheese for the top, Carmen generously offered some of her cheese. Of course, there was some joking that if the Potato Soup won it would be because of the cheese! Darrell & Donna made a Red Lentil Soup – one of my favorites!
OK, I guess I can’t keep you in suspense any longer. Susie & Shawn crowned the winners – Don & Rena – for their Potato Soup. Interestingly, Susie & Shawn commented that they liked the appearance of the soup with the shredded cheddar melting over the top!!!! LOL! The prize? A can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, a Starbuck’s gift card, and – best of all – bragging rights!
After the winners were named, we all sat down to a wonderful meal. We enjoyed delicious soups, a wonderful salad bar, Darrell’s delectable bread, and the company of friends – new and old! After dinner we played some games and had dessert and more laughs. Anticipating our collective groans in the morning because of the time change, we ended the evening early.
What a great group of couples…..we got to know one another through a marriage small group that our friends Scott and Carmen hosted at their home at the end of 2012. It was a wonderful time to invest in our marriages and to build and/or strengthen relationships with other couples who value investing in theirs. In a society that prioritizes what feels good above everything else, it is refreshing to spend time with folks who understand the importance of “hanging in there” and working hard through the tough times and who desire to do what is right, not just what is easy. Thanks to Scott & Carmen, Darrell & Donna, Don & Rena, Shawn & Susie, and my husband, Jeff, for valuing marriage and being a positive example for others!
We didn’t have a half-time show, no corporation paid millions of dollars for a 30 second commercial spot, millions of fans didn’t gather to watch; but we had a great time and in the end, like in the super bowl, the best team won!!!
The following are some photos of the process of making our soup – Roasted Tomato, Corn & Chicken Soup: