A freezing rain fell from dreary February skies, but inside the Haley House Café, the mood was bright and cheerful as fans of local cuisine gathered for the fifth annual Souper Bowl.
The yearly event is a fundraiser for the Haley House soup kitchen. The Souper Bowl is an all-you-can-eat soup buffet, in which guests first purchase a handmade clay bowl. Bowls in hand, guests have a plethora of soup choices available to them, served by chefs from giant pots at eleven different serving stations. Some of the choices available were clam chowder, Portuguese soup, beef broth with barley, and vegan bean stew, one of four vegan options available.
The bowls were made at the Massachusetts College of Art, whose Center for Art and Community Partnerships and its Clay for Change program sponsored a bowl-making event for students, staff, alumni and Haley House staff as well. Haley House Café manager, Bing Broderick commented, “It was mind-blowing to walk in and see 40 people at work making bowls – MassArt has been an excellent neighbor… MassArt really stepped up in a big way.”
JJ Gonson, of Cuisine en Locale, was busy serving up Southwestern turkey bean and bacon soup. As a chef who has participated in all five Souper Bowls, she commented, “The Souper Bowl is my favorite event of the year. Everybody is happy when they are eating delicious soup, made from local ingredients, from handcrafted bowls, in support of a wonderful place that helps people by creating great food.” Danielle Andrews, a greenhouse manager at The Food Project, cooked and served Massachusetts minestrone. She spoke of the longtime partnership between The Food Project and Haley House, noting that both organizations were early advocates of the idea that fresh, local food should be available to everyone. She added, “The Souper Bowl is a nice way of bringing together local food and healthy food…and there’s the element of the universal right to healthy food.”
Serving healthy, fresh food at the Souper Bowl is appropriate, as the Haley House soup kitchen serves only home-cooked, nutritious meals to its guests. This soup kitchen, which after 45 years is Boston’s oldest, serves six breakfasts and three elder meals per week at its 23 Dartmouth Street location, and serves over 24,500 meals each year. The kitchen is unique in that the food is prepared and served by the kitchen’s own live-in community, who share the responsibility of managing the soup kitchen. Albert Ramirez, a member of that community, commented, “It’s always wonderful to have this event. It’s wonderful that people get to see some of the work that we do and contribute as well.”
Souper Bowl V served 160 people and brought in approximately $5,000, an amount that is larger than previous years and will provide over two months of food for the Haley House soup kitchen. Café manager, Bing Broderick, was extremely pleased with the event, and looks forward to continued Souper Bowl fundraising, noting “It has been a great success…a lovely way for people to participate in what we do.”
—Melanie Temin Mendez