Entertaining expert Carlo Geraci from Carlo Says…, has already told us how to throw the perfect baby shower and set the perfect musical mood; now he’s helping us break out of the wings-and-nachos Superbowl mold. (Not that there’s anything wrong with wings and nachos, of course.) Read on for his original take on game day food—just in time for this year’s big football face-off.
My Aunt Rena in California has been the ringmaster for all of our family get togethers over the years, with the most famous event being her Soup-er Bowl party.
While Soup-er Bowl Parties usually take place the weekend before the big game, I think it’s a fantastic idea for halftime entertainment. The game plan is simple: each guests brings a homemade soup, either a recipe that has been in their repertoire for years or a new one they’ve been eager to try. After sampling all the recipes, you crown a winner.
At Chez Carlo this past weekend, my good friend Dickie Baker brought his acclaimed French Onion Soup. I made Brussels Sprout Soup with Mimolette Cheese (recipe included below), Lawrence Treglia made a very healthy Tuscan Vegetable Soup, and Colleen Quinn decided to try out a new recipe for Mushroom Bisque. Not only was Colleen’s soup sublime, but also the winner of the coveted golden ladle and a gift certificate to A Cook’s Companion, one of my favorite local cooking supply stores. Click through for instructions on throwing your own Soup Soiree or Soup-er Bowl Party!
Each soup is tasted and voted on, and there should be a minimum of four soups. You can have a gold, silver, and bronze ladle (spray painted and decorated with a bow) to be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. This time, I chose to have one ladle and winner, but for larger parties, three ladles is fun. Assign a point value for each soup for easy calculation. I used a scale of one to four because there were only four soups served. Guests logged their votes using chalk on slate cheese boards that were also used to hold hot soup pots. These slate boards are widely available—I am obsessed with Brooklyn Slate Co, which comes with its own chalk!
Pro Tip #1: A flavor profile is something to consider when planning your soup party. You’ll want a roster of soups, ranging from hearty and spicy chilis to mild and delicate bisques. In addition, make sure to ask guests if they require bowls or trays for condiments to embellish their soups (ie: croutons, shredded cheese etc.)
Pro Tip #2: Set your dining table or kitchen island with trivets or cheese boards for hot soup pots. Stack small bowls or large mugs, and dinner plates to hold soup in your lap. (Remember this is casual…) Not everything has to match, it just has to work! Place cutlery and napkins alongside.
Pro Tip #3 : Nothing goes better with soup than good, crusty, artisanal bread, hard cheeses, dried fruit, and salad. I chose to use these items as my centerpiece. Not only is it more space efficient, it’s also economical, delicious, and can be just as eye-catching.
Pro Tip #4: The best part of having a Soup Soiree or Soup-er Bowl Party is the leftovers… if there are any! I use plastic to-go containers, either recycled from take-out or store bought. Your guests will love it and (you know I love a parting gift) everyone will leave with their own trophies!
Brussels Sprouts with Cheese Soup
Serves 4, adapted from Le Pain Quotidien, recipe doubles well.
1 lb fresh brussels sprouts, quartered
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 sprig thyme
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ lb potatoes, finely cubed
¼ lb grated extra-veux mimolette cheese
5 ¼ cups water
½ tablespoon salt
In a non-stick frying pan, sauté in the butter over a high heat for 5 minutes the quartered brussels sprouts, the chopped onion, the thinly sliced garlic, the thyme, and the finely cubed potatoes. When they have turned color slightly, transfer to a 4 quart pot. Add the water and salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour half of the soup into the blender bowl. Add the grated fresh nutmeg and half of Mimolette cheese.
Blend well, pour onto the rest of the soup and adjust the seasoning (salt and fresh ground pepper).
Serve immediately, accompanied by a bowl of the remaining Mimolette cheese.