Soupfest is Living Rock’s annual fundraiser, presented by First Ontario Credit Union. It’s a great opportunity to invite the Hamilton community to participate in supporting youth at risk. All of the proceeds support Living Rock life skill development and employment training. An estimated 5000 people were in attendance, with five foodie judges tasked to select the best soup of the day.
Amanda Kinnaird from Inspire Marketing, Dave Hanley creator of Pop Up Hamilton, The Hungry Gnome food blogger Chanry Thach, The Hamiltonian columnist Alex Bielak, and Karen Aquino from Go Cooking were this year’s esteemed judges. They tasted all 26 soups and made their selection.
“They really loved the mushroom soup.They said it used good techniques, good flavours, nice presentation, and perfect texture. That was their clear winner today,” says Julie Conway, development coordinator at Living Rock.
The Foodies Choice Award was judged exclusively by the panel.
“They didn’t have any clue which restaurant’s soup they were tasting or even what the soup was to test their palates. They judge based on culinary abilities: taste, texture, presentation,” says Conway.
The rest of the judging is done by the general public through a ballot. The categories include: best soup, most creative, best display, and best grow local.
Here are some of the soups that we had a chance to try:
This retirement home delivered a delicious Leek and Mushroom soup that served a great texture and taste. Being a fan of mushroom soup, I can vouch that this was one of the best soups at the festival. If retirement tastes this good when I’m old, then sign me up. 3.5 out of 5
This Sweet Potato and Corn soup was one of the many soups on the sweet potato train at Soupfest. Although it was enjoyable, there was nothing that distinguished it from the herd of competitors. I found the soup a little much on the sweet side, and not enough flavour to stand out from the crowd. 2.5 out of 5.
The reigning champions of the last few years, Copetown Woods, delivered a delicious Sweet Potato, Kale and Sausage soup. A little on the spicy side and very thick, this was definitely one of the best soups I tasted at the festival. Although the biscuit did not add much to its overall flavor, it’s easy to see why Copetown has won in the past. 4.0 out of 5.
The delicious Persian Ash soup from Sensational Samosas scored high in flavor. One of the most unique dishes at the festival, this soup combined hints of turmeric, fresh onions and garlic as well as mint leaves in oil. This soup might not be for everyone, but very satisfying for foodies. 3.5 out of 5.
The Hot Chick Soup delivered a nice punch, and was served in an interesting fashion with a spicy chicken wing resting in the middle of the soup. The soup tasted like creamy mayo, but was unique in flavor. 2.5 out of 5.
My favorite soup of the festival, this Moroccan Vegetable and Pearl Cous Cous with Green Harissa was the outlier of the pack. With a rich set of flavors and perfect texture, this was a soup that I could have taken home and shared with my family. A local favorite, the Burnt Tongue delivered this year and managed to pull off a great dish that was uniquely Hamilton. 5 out of 5
Best Soup: Collins Brewhouse, Mac N Cheese
Best Display: Stillwaters, Hot Chick Soup
Most Creative: Baci Ristorante, Roasted Garlic and Potato with Maple Sriracha Cheesecake
Best Grow Local: Goodness Me, Smokey Goodness
Foodie’s Choice: Heritage Place Retirement, Leek and Mushroom
Living Rock has been around for 30 years and supporting youth at risk ages 13-25 and their children so a lot of the young youth at our facility are young parents. The organization provides youth with access to meal programs and food banks. “Our priority is to get them in a shelter and get them housed and giving them clothing and food. We encourage them to move beyond the circumstances they are currently at.”, says Conway. Today Living Rock announced that they are opening the first social enterprise food truck in all of Canada in May.
This initiative will support local farmers, provide employment for youth at risk, and help ensure a sustainable Hamilton.