The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Serving up soup at last year’s SouperFest. Mulberry Creek Imagery photo.


When: Saturday, March 19; FunFest from 2 to 5 p.m., SoupFest from 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Rundlett Middle School, 144 South St., Concord
Tickets: Suggested donation is $10, $5 for children under 18

Souper fundraiser
Community festival to fight homelessness

By Allie Ginwala

 Before it was SouperFest — a fundraiser supporting the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness that invites hundreds of folks to enjoy homemade soup — the annual event was simply a small soup festival created by Jim Kinhan, a Concord South Congregational Church member in charge of planning programs and luncheons for the senior citizens outreach group.

“He started this idea of having a soup fest that his group would run and make a little bit of money on,” Ellen Fries, chair of the board of directors for Concord Coalition to End Homelessness, said in a phone interview. 
The group would give some of the funds raised to the church’s senior high youth group and one year decided to expand and include the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness as a beneficiary. The soup fest continued to grow and last year took on the “souper” title, a larger event orchestrated by SouperFest Director David Canfield.
“We went from the last time it was soup fest at South [Congregational] Church income of $3,000 [to] last year was the first year of SouperFest with $35,000 income,” she said.
SouperFest is made up of two parts — a FunFest for kids run by the Boys & Girls Club starting at 2 p.m. and SoupFest featuring recipes from the community’s “celebrity chefs” at 4 p.m. Local notables Arnie Arnesen, Fred Keach, Jodi Roos, Colin Van Ostern and Tom and Deb Walton make up the list of over 20 individuals serving soup.
“I think having individuals make soup sort of keeps that theme of we’re each unique human souls, we’re not just a big something that you can label and say, ‘Oh that is a group of people who are homeless so therefore we know what they’re like,’” she said. “Every individual has their own issues and the reason they become homeless aren’t the same as the next one. It’s more of a community thing when it’s individuals making soups and baking rather than just restaurants.”
Recipes on the menu cover a wide range, from sweet potato chipotle and split pea with ham to roasted tomato basil and chicken soup with matzoh balls.
“They can make whatever they want and sometimes it’s like a family recipe that they ... want to share with other people,” Eireann Aspell, project manager at Louis Karno & Company, said in a phone interview. 
The Coalition is collecting all of the recipes to put in a cookbook for select donors, and cooks with family histories or stories behind their soups are encouraged to submit those as well.
“It is a great community atmosphere, it’s very free-flowing and warm, people really look forward to getting together with other people in the community and chatting,” Fries said. “You can sample different soups and breads [and] we have live jazz playing in the background.”
Though the crux of the event was soup before the Coalition was involved, Fries thinks it’s a very applicable food focus for this fundraiser.
“Soup is a very cozy, warm, homey thing, you think of it as a comfort food, something for a cold winter day or when you’ve been sick,” she said. “It’s a cozy warm thing that makes many of us think of home and that’s what we need. I think soup is an excellent symbol for home and caring.”
Piggybacking on the soupy centerpiece, a new feature at this year’s SouperFest is handcrafted bowls.
“In partnership with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen we have invited both professional artists and local craftspeople as well as school art departments to create ceramic soup bowls,” Fries said.
The bowls will be on display at the league’s headquarters for two weeks before Souperfest, then on sale at the event.
“It was the idea of incorporating another part of our community, the artistic part of our community, into this event and giving them the chance to showcase their work and be a part of helping the Coalition,” Fries said.
Aspell said the food-safe bowls made by professionals will range from $40 to $80, and those made by Concord High School and Rundlett Middle School students will be $20, with all proceeds going to the Coalition. 

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