The Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s sixth annual Souper Bowl returned last weekend, bringing with it gallons of piping hot soup and thousands of dollars in scholarship funds.
“Of all the Chamber events, this is one of my favorites,” Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm said. “This is truly a community undertaking.”
The tongue-in-cheek community event takes place on the Saturday before the SuperBowl, allowing football fans, regardless of team affiliations, to come together in the name of tasty, homemade soup.
Proceeds from the Souper Bowl benefit the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund. In 2017 the Chamber presented eight local high school students with a total $18,000.
This year, over eight hundred bowls, handpainted by local students, were available for purchase at the Mackle Park Community Center. Nine Marco Island restaurants set up shop in the airnasium, allowing Souper Bowl attendees to sample their signature soups, chowders, bisques and broths.Participating restaurants/organizations included: CJ’s on the Bay, Hilton Marco Island, Island Country Club, Maia at the JW Marriott, Mangos Dockside Bistro, Petit Soleil, Philly Grille, The Speak- Easy, and Stonewalls. The soups ranged in culinary style, taste and texture. Event co-organizer Lisa Meurgue of Petit Soleil, brought the restaurant’s famous cream of mushroom soup, topped with fried onions and a dollop of cream. Petit Soleil has been participating in the event since its inception in 2012.
CJ’s on the Bay has also participated since the inaugural Souper Bowl. CJ’s Chef Laura Owen once again brought the restaurant’s stuffed pepper soup.
“We have always had such a great response about this soup,” Owen said. “It is quite hearty and is great for a cool or windy day.”New to the Souper Bowl were the Island Country Club and the Marco Island Hilton. The hotel offered a chilled grilled watermelon hatch chili gazpacho, served with avocado crema. While Island Country Club served up a creamy, reuben soup.
According to Souper Bowl co-organizer, Desiree Buhelos, the Souper Bowl is made possible through a combined effort of local volunteerism and cooperation.
“All around it’s a team effort for everything we do,” she said. “Down to the schools helping us paint and getting them done in a margin of time so the Art League will fire them.”This year the popular event sold out in record time. It only took an hour and 15 minutes before the bowls were completely gone.
“We had over 850 people come through to purchase bowls,” Dohm said. “We did run out of bowls almost at the same time restaurants were running out of soup.”Dohm estimates that the 2018 Souper Bowl raised approximately $12,000 in scholarship funding. The scholarships will be distributed to the local students come May.