Soup’s on for Good Cheer fundraiser

For those who’ve wondered how long it would take to sample all the best autumn soups on South Whidbey, here’s the answer: one night.

That’s if you ladle up and tuck in to steaming bowls of warm soups, broths, chowders or bisques at the Empty Bowl Soup Night in Langley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Organized as a fundraiser for Good Cheer Food Bank, the night is about making sure all bellies are warm and full, for that night but also for the chilly winter season ahead.

More than a dozen local restaurants and chefs are contributing signature soups to this year’s event, and everyone is invited to share the food and fellowship.

Local country musician Doug Roraback and his group will be performing lively toe-tapping tunes for the second year in a row.

Rather than pay for the meal that night, hungry participants instead purchase one of many brilliantly hued customized bowls and then fill it with soups made by renowned island chefs. The bowl can be taken home afterward.

Three bowl options let diners choose the amount of support they can afford: a $20 artisan-thrown bowl, $15 hand-painted ceramic bowl or $5 mug or bowl from the Good Cheer Thrift Store. Along with all the soups to slurp and sample, everyone will be noshing on cornbread, muffins, bread and crackers as well as desserts, cookies and brownies.

Carol Squire, executive director of Good Cheer, noted that Empty Bowl Soup Night is her favorite Good Cheer event and that everyone gains from participating in the fun community get-together with live music and great soup.

The all-star cast of participating restaurants this year include Prima Bistro, Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar, Orchard Kitchen, China City, The Braeburn, Freeland Cafe, Whidbey Doughnuts, Mukilteo Coffee’s Café in the Woods, the South Whidbey Commons, Useless Bay Coffee Company, Patron Mexican Restaurant, Flowerhouse Café and Anthes Ferments, with more being added this week.

Jenn Jurriaans, co-owner of Prima Bistro and Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar on 1st Street, explained why they commit to this annual event in Langley.

“We support Good Cheer in all the ways we can because of what an incredible service they provide to the people of our community,” she said. “Making soup for them to serve at this event is a very easy way for us to contribute.”

The soup creations are generally a surprise, but Jurriaans revealed that Prima Bistro will be providing potato leek soup this year and Saltwater is contributing its smoked salmon and corn chowder. Past offerings from various chefs have included everything from chunky chowders to tortilla soups, chicken curries, veggie broths, seafood cioppinos and Chinese hot-and-sour soups.

Sonya Tsuchigane, co-owner of the Asian-influenced Anthes Ferments restaurant on Second Street, shared that her husband, Chef Trap Landry, will be bubbling up a seasonal pumpkin-based soup for Sunday’s get-together. It’s a small token of generosity they’re more than happy to provide, she explained, noting that they are frequent shoppers at Good Cheer Thrift Store.

“We have benefited from Good Cheer and believe in the mission,” Tsuchigane said. “They provide for us, we provide for them; it’s a wonderful partnership to be involved in the community in this way.”

In addition to the soups from island chefs, many more volunteers have lent hands and hearts to the venture. Tina Beard, longtime Good Cheer supporter and owner of Whidbey Art Escape, donated 200 ceramic bowls for anyone in the community to hand paint at her shop, which sits on Anthes Avenue opposite the thrift store. After the painting and kiln firing, the bowls will be transported to the venue for soup night.

The annual Empty Soup Bowl Night takes place from 5 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27 in the Fellowship Hall of Langley United Methodist Church.

For more information, visit goodcheer.org or call 360-221-6451.

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