A Winning “Souper Bowl” for Cleveland

After basking in the abnormality of 75 degree November days, I felt relieved to put on a coat last weekend and head to the Gordon Square Arts District. Fall had finally arrived, and in my mind there was no better way to celebrate soup-weather than tasting 28 different soups from local restaurants at the inaugural SouperBowl CLE event.

SouperBowl4Attendees were greeted at the Cleveland Public Theater with a spoon, lanyard pass, and a map of the soup stops in and around Gordon Square. Soup kettles were steaming in old Detroit Shoreway storefronts like Buehner’s Office Supply, and pop-ups like Collective Upcycle. A little competition was encouraged, as guests acted as judges, voting for best vegetarian soup, most unique soup, best host business, and best soup overall.

SouperBowl is the brainchild of Detroit Shoreway resident Sandro Galindo, a native of Mexico, who was interested in the idea of creating an event to showcase the diverse cultural landscape of Cleveland. “Soup is universal,” Galindo said, “I went to a soup competition in Pittsburgh where we tasted soups and checked out local stores. I decided I wanted to do that in Gordon Square.” Although he had no prior experience in event planning, Galindo found a way to see his idea of a local soup competition come to fruition, though it took nearly two years. His drive, passion, and background in social media marketing, brought in about 400 attendees.

SouperBowl5With the help of event director Lisa Pasquale, 60 volunteers, and various sponsors, the Gordon Square Arts district was teeming with enthusiasm, as happy, full-bellied attendees strolled in and out of host businesses, spoon in hand. The event highlighted the walkability of the neighborhood, and encouraged guests to visit businesses, organizations, and galleries they might otherwise not know are there. The Flying Fig served up a piquant roasted butternut squash and apple soup in the 1point618 art gallery on Detroit Ave. Batuqui in Larchmere, offered a palatable creamy polenta and ground beef soup in the entranceway of co-operative workshop space and bookstore Guide to Kulchur.

SouperBowlProceeds from the SouperBowl benefit the West Side Catholic Center who has been serving hot meals, providing clothing, outreach and advocacy, housing services programs, and much more for more than  years. As for competition winners, Pastina Rustic Italian’s smoked butternut squash bisque took the prize for best soup overall, while the Cleveland Vegan’s delicious roasted corn chowder took the award for best vegetarian soup. Graffiti: A Social Kitchen was recognized for the most unique offering for their apple and leek soup. Galindo has visions of other Cleveland neighborhoods hosting the competition in the future. At least for next year, Gordon Square will welcome the SouperBowl once again. 

 — Madeleine Kim