Once we claimed our spot, the husband got his first round of soups while we got a balloon mermaid. When it was my turn, I headed not for the soup lines, but for the spot where Doughworks was set up with tiny, bite-sized, freshly made doughnuts. Balloons and doughnuts bought us plenty of time with the kid to eat some soup. I may have eaten a couple of the doughnuts on the way back to the table, though. Shhh.
I consulted the list of soups and sought out the ones I thought were most likely to be vegetarian (no chicken or beef stock, no meat or fish). First up was 12 South Taproom with a Vegetarian White Bean and Kale Soup. I expected it to be similar to mine, but it was actually quite different. No curry and the very smart inclusion of roasted garlic. It was a great soup with just enough kick to make it interesting.
Next up was one of my food event favorites, Copper Kettle. They had Champagne Brie and Apple Bisque (with optional bacon topping). This soup was delicious and very filling. Just down the line from them was Loews Vanderbilt Hotel with a Spicy Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque. They topped it with a heavy scoop of whipped cream and some ground pumpkin seeds, too. Fantastic.
After a breather (and a doughnut), I got back to the soups. Commerce Street Grille had a Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup that was a lot more complex than it sounds. And mercifully light. Also, quite good! Then it was on to The Mad Platter that was serving a (vegan!) Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup with bits of toasted coconut on top. Excellent, but I’d be hard-pressed to eat more than a cup of it. It was decadently thick and creamy. I also had the Tomato Basil Soup from the Rainforest Cafe, which was lighter (and tastier) than I expected. It quieted my anti-chain snobbery.
Last but not least was the Carrot Cake Soup with Caramel and Cream Cheese Drizzle from Vanderbilt University Dining. I was surprised by how much I liked it. It was served warm and wasn’t quite as sweet as it sounds. This is the soup that received the People’s Choice Award. The Mr. Eats awards, however went to B&C BBQ for their Derby Day Burgoo (he got seconds!). Runner-up for the Mr. Eats award was the Lobster BLT from Prime 108 (served in a smart little bread bowl).
But the honors from the judges went to Fleet Street Pub's Queensway Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Judge’s Choice) and to Urban Grub's Grilled Corn & Smoked Poblano Chowder with Spaghetti Squash Tamale (Most Creative). The Queensway Cock-a-Leekie Soup is actually on Fleet Street's regular menu, so you can try it out for yourself if you missed the event. And if you did miss the event, go ahead and block off weekends around this time next year so you don't miss it again!