Soup fundraisers make you feel warm inside

If you're in the mood for soup, you might love the South Side Soup Contest.

However, if you didn't get your tickets, you're out of luck, because all 1,100 $20 tickets for this year's ninth crawl/contest sold out in less than a half hour on Feb. 1.

The event runs the length of South Side from noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, as ticketed participants crawl from shop to shop, trying and rating soups that neighborhood chefs contribute as they seek bragging rights.

You still can be part of the event, which is sponsored by the South Side Chamber of Commerce and The Brashear Association, by ordering a cool $15 T-shirt: Visit and click on Tickets. Or, if you want to brave the soup-breathed crowds, you can stop in Saturday and buy one at Commonwealth Press on 1931 E. Carson St. -- that's the company that makes the shirts.

You also can contribute to the two Brashear food pantries that benefit from this fun.

The soup place to be next Saturday, Feb. 23, is St. Nicholas Serbian Church in Monroeville.

At 11 a.m. that day, the church choir puts on its first International Soup-a-thon, starring Chef Eric Wallace, now at Up Modern Kitchen in Shadyside, who will demo soup-making techniques -- making stock, making roux, making a cream-based soup -- all of which he'll incorporate into an eight-gallon batch of Chicken and Mushroom Soup.

"That's the church I grew up in," he says, beginning to explain his role in the event. He and his family have cooked here before, going back to his Bubba, or grandmother, Violet Jokola, who stood on a stool to reach the tops of the big soup pots in the church kitchen.

Many cooks of many ethnic backgrounds will present samples of their own soups -- from Croatia, Dominican Republic, China, Egypt, Poland, Kuwait and many other lands.

"There are probably 20 countries," says Mary Ann Tomich, who explains that those cooks include not just church members but also friends and others who "want to share their culture." She plans to make all the recipes available, too. "The thing is, who doesn't like soup?"

You can try five soups for $5, and also order soups to eat there or to take home, along with Mediterra breads.

You also can purchase kolbassi and hot sausage, cooked to eat there and uncooked to take home, that were made by the men of the choir.

So they have an idea of how many people are coming, RSVP by calling 412-824-9982 or emailing

The church is at 2110 Haymaker Road in Monroeville (15146).

A soup fundraiser coming up from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, is the second Sewickley Soup Crawl, which also has a contest -- for home cooks to enter their best soups to be judged by local celebrities. Proceeds benefit Sewickley Community Center Food Pantry and the OASIS Teen Center at the Sewickley Valley YMCA. Learn more at

Bob Batz Jr.: or 412-263-1930.


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