Soupalicious 2010

Soupalicious2010On Saturday October 9th, I went to the 3rd (?) annual Soupalicious event at the Exhibition Place. Put on by Compost Council of Canada along with and many other sponsors including the City of Toronto, this was a chance to enjoy the harvest and  “sip, slurp, and savour” over 40 different soups from a whole variety of participants.

At the event, I had a chance to try about 20 different kinds of soup (talk about soup overload!) as well as participate in a very brief video segment for an upcoming project put on the Green Living Project. Other interesting highlights were an inauguration ceremony by deputy mayor Joe Pantalone (who is also the chair of Exhibition Place) and seeing him followed around by his posse of supporters in matching tshirts, purchasing some delicious homemade pecan butter tarts, and participating in a taste test by Local Food Plus in trying to taste whether one soup was made with locally- and sustainably-grown pears or with conventionally-grown pears.

Despite being souped out by the end of the event, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and tasting notes on the variety of soups on offer for the day. Each soup was presenting in a small biodegradable sample cup. Big enough to get a good tasting, but small enough that you can sample a whole variety of soup without getting too full. So without further ado, onto the soups (in no particular order)

Fire on the East Side
Roasted Tomato Blackbean and Tortilla Soup with Yellow Pepper and White Chocolate Mole
-This was a great tasting soup with the rich flavours coming through of the roasted tomato and blackbeans
-The tortillas added a nice crunch and texture to the soup
-The mole was good, though I couldn’t really taste the white chocolate and I don’t really know what moles usually taste like to give a fair assessment

Greens and Sprout Salad
I don’t know who prepared this, only that it was delicious. One of the volunteers stopped by our table and handed this to us. In addition to some baby lettuce greens, there were almost a dozen kinds of sprouts (alfalfa, clover, broccoli to name a few) that gave it a really nice fresh taste and refreshing texture. After eating several soups, having solid food was a good way to avoid soup overload.

Le Rossignol
Carmelized Onion and Bacon Soup
-This was a very smooth pureed soup
-I couldn’t taste much of the bacon

The Annex HodgePodge
Curried Carrot and Ginger Soup
-A warming and hearty soup with a mild ginger taste coming through towards the end of each sip. It was nicely done
Zucchini and Dill
-The only soup from this stand I didn’t try
Red Velvet (Potato and Beet)
-Full of deep, earthy flavour, this had the right balance of sweetness from the beets and the savoury taste you expect from a soup. Another well done soup

Charred Sweet Zucchini with Cumin and White Truffle Oil
-A rich, savoury, and chunk soup full that was very rich in taste – it came recommended by some other tasters and did not disappoint
-I can imagine this being a little to much in a full serving, but in a small sample cup, it was perfect

Crush Wine Bar
Cauliflower Puree with Crispy Pancetta and Brown Butter Cauliflower Florets
-One of my favourite soups, the puree was had a fresh and subtle cauliflower taste (vs. an overpowering and “in your face” taste) that was complimented with the pancetta and extra florets
-I think my favourite soup of the day

St. Jamestown Steak and Chops
Rosemary Vegetable Soup
-I walked by this stand several times until I decided to give it a try towards the end of the day
-It was super tasty, though at first I wasn’t drawn to it because of the simple sounding name. It exceeded all my expectations in terms of how flavourful it was and how rich and chunky it was
-A great example of how if simple soups when done well, they are much more enjoyable than elaborate soups poorly executed.

The Gladstone Hotel
Cauliflower soup with leek compote and a drizzle of curry infused cold preseed soy oil
-Another cauliflower soup and I really liked the infused oil on top, which brought a new dimension to the soup

Masoor Dal and Carrot Curried Soup
-This soup had a bit of a kick at the end from the spices and showcased the traditional Indian flavours well
-I realized though that I prefer my dal when it is thicker and in a more traditional Indian-style dish, rather than in soup form

Esther Queen of Soups
5 soups on offer her, though the one I tried was: Mulligatawny with Spicy Chicken Noodle
-Wow, my favourite of the rich and chunky homestyle soups on offer

Cruda Cafe
Moroccon Cauliflower Soup
-The only raw soup at the event, garnished with dried eggplant
-A cool soup (not heated since it is a raw soup), it was still very tasty and the crispy dried flakes of eggplant on top sealed the deal for me.
-Something I would definitely have again

Christina’s on the Danforth
-Thick and chunky chicken soup with a touch of lemon
-Interesting sourness of the lemon coming through towards the end, which was not very expected, but it seemed to work ok

Sumo Miso Soup
-After trying it, I can see why they called it sumo – because of the big chunks of veggies in the soup
-Great miso flavour, interesting to see it jazzed up with all the big pieces of veggies in there
-Another soup that falls into the simple, but well executed category (and I’m happy that I had some after passing it by several times throughout the day)

Southern Accent
Gumbo Z Herbs Ya Ya
-garnished with rice
-this was the last soup I had and was also very tasty

Petit Four
Wild Mushroom Soup (not pictured)
-looked like it was served out of a large coffee urn
-a perfect showcase of how using a few simple and fresh ingredients (along with a skillful cook, of course) can create a delicious soup

Corn Chowder and Bacon

Brick Street Bakery
Iberian Fisherman Soup
-definitely a comfort food kind of soup
-lots going on in terms of ingredients, but held together well by the broth

Le Papillon
French Onion Soup
-a cassic, and well done, though I went a bit too late to get a garnish of what I think was goat cheese on a small cracker

One Love Vegetarian
One Love Corn Soup
-very well done, and not as sweet as other corn soups I’ve had

Final Notes
Overall, I counted 20 soups that I ended up trying at the event! From these soups, I realized a couple things. 

  • Soups taste best when served hot
  • The texture of soup was just as important as the taste of the soup 
  • Soups can be very simple and also very complex. 
  • Garnishes add a nice additional element to most soups
I think this event has inspired me to start making some more soup!

March 2010 Review

This is only going to be a short update as I’ve been swamped with a ton of stuff to do recently, so here goes my shotgun approach to this month’s review


1. Seedy Saturday Scarborough
-It was a great event, though not nearly the same turnout as the main Toronto event.
2. Homemade wine
-I’m in the process of making my own wine (though not with grape). It’s sitting in my basement doing a bit of aging and should be ready in about a year
3. Volunteered at Canada Blooms
-The City of Toronto had one of the best displays and I was inspired by their beautiful inter-planting of veggies and flowers in ornamental and tasty ways
4. Fitness swim time trial
-Not knowing what I was capable of doing, I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up swimming 100m in 1min28sec.
5. Soup, soup, and more soup
-I went on a soup making binge this month making 3 large pots: lentil soup, a butternut squash soup, and also a mixed veg curry soup. Let’s say that each pot was enough to feed at least 10 people with leftovers
6. Grant writing.
-I was involved in submitting our first grant for our non-profit organization-submitted my frist grant. Let’s hope this is just the first of many we apply for, and receive funding for.
7. TYFPC Food Systems Fair
-We participated at the inaugural Food Systems Fair at UT campus. Great turnout, cool speakers, good food courtesy of the Hot Yam, and more.
8. First garden setup of 2010
-I helped setup the first garden for the 2010 growing season
9. More public speaking
-I gave a school presentation to an elementary school (some grade 7’s and some grade 3’s) on food security. Unfortunately, I think I ended up boring the kids for pretty much the entire time I was up.

A lot of things happened in March, much of which isn’t ready to be shared just yet (or in such a public forum). There were triumphs, defeats, lessons learned, character-building moments, opportunities seized, and more. With time, I’m sure many of these (positive) things we’ve been working on recently will come to fruiting and the other (negative) things will come to pass.

Parting Quotation
Our achievements of today
are but the sum total of our thoughts of yesterday.
You are today where the thoughts of yesterday have brought you
and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you.
-Blaise Pascal