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It’s a simple question with a simple answer: Would you part with 15 clams to enjoy an nine -course haute cuisine meal conjured up by a selection of the island’s best chefs?

You would not be alone if you answered yes.

Over the past three years, the answer has been in the affirmative thousands of times over, judging by the response to the Island’s “Souper Bowl” sup down.

It’s a down home soup-slurping session that has fast become a firm favorite on the Marco Island seasonal calendar, and this year it goes down from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Mackle Park on Feb. 6.

The impressive preamble is that for months, artists of all ages and students from local schools have been painting ceramic bowls, which were in turned fired and stored for sale to the huge crowds expected to turn out once again on the Saturday before the other, similar-sounding, Super Bowl.

The hand-painted bowls will sell for $15, after which tasters can circulate around the park's airnasium to sample soups created by nine Marco restaurant chefs. There are no limits to samples.

The line up includes:

* Cream of mushroom soup by Petit Soleil;

* potato corn chowder from the Speak Easy of Marco,

* Caribbean conch chowder from Quinn’s on the Beach,

* stuffed pepper (tenderloin tip, red and yellow bell peppers and white rice) soup from CJ’s on the Bay,

* Jamaican beef soup from the AMI kids of Big Cypress,

* Italian wedding (carrots, celery, Italian meatballs and a chicken broth base) soup from Mango’s Dockside Bistro,

* loaded (bacon, potato and cheese) soup from Stonewalls,

* Texas soup (corn, beans, chili sauce, ground beef and pulled pork in beef broth) from Philly Grille, and

* Pasta Faglioli (with beans, ground beef, spices, herbs and vegetables) from Ciao Bella..

Funds raised go toward providing student scholarships, and the project is presented by the Leadership Marco alumni under the umbrella of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

And, unlike Oliver Twist, you’ll get more if you ask for more ... as long as supplies last.

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