Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An evening at the Soup-er Bowl, Minnesota style March 12, 2012

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Diners lined up for samples of homemade soup in the fellowship hall of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Morristown, Sunday evening for the Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Soup-er Bowl.

“IT’S SAUSAGE, SHARON, not hot dogs.”

And so the debate waged at our table Sunday evening during the second annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Soup-er Bowl—Sharon, remembering how her mother stretched meals with hots dogs; others at our table laughing and telling her she was wrong about the hots dogs in the soup.

After the soup at the center of our conversation placed second in the competition, I sought out the soup maker, Bonnie Borchert, who had her hands immersed deep in soapy dishwater in the kitchen of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Morristown.

“What gave your soup that smokey flavor?” I asked Bonnie after praising her soup and congratulating her. In an agonizing decision, hers got my vote as the best soup.

“Three pounds of Polish sausage.”

There you go, Sharon. Polish sausage. Not hot dogs. No tangy vinegar either, as you suggested.

And so Bonnie took second with her Cheesy Potato Polish Sausage Soup, vying against six other soup makers.

Winner of the 2012 CVLHS Soup-er Bowl: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup made by Steve LaMotte, representing Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

Repeat contestant Steve LaMotte won the Soup-er Bowl with his Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, the same soup which last year earned him a second place. Laced with homemade noodles and hefty chunks of chicken and vegetables, Steve’s savory and creamy soup could have passed as hotdish. It was that thick. He promises to return next year, but with a different soup.

The coveted trophy awarded to Steve LaMotte.

While the soups were the draw for those who love soup, like me, the Soup-er Bowl also serves as a fundraiser for CVLHS and as a social gathering. The din of conversation reached a deafening roar in the fellowship hall as diners filed in and settled in to sample the soups.

Good food. Lively conversation. Laughter.

What more could you want in small-town Minnesota on a Sunday evening?

Soup makers, including Steve LaMotte, right, served the soups to diners. The soup makers did not scoop up the soups they prepared. That was done intentionally to preserve the integrity of the voting process. One diner (aka my sister Lanae) voted for two soups. I considered hers a spoiled ballot.

And the kids, as kids will do, entertained themselves by running and swinging and jumping off/ on the table and chair racks under a mural of the women at the tomb on Easter morning.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling