May the best broth win: 6th Annual South Side Soup Contest warms up the weekend

Melissa Rayworth
Pop City

Amid all this freezing snow, here's a piping hot event: The 6th Annual South Side Soup Contest is happening on Sat., Feb. 20 (noon-3 p.m.). "Soup hoppers" can start their trek at any one of three South Side locations -- South Side Works Cinema (425 Cinema Drive), City Theater (1300 Bingham St.) or The Brashear Association (2005 Sarah St.).

For a donation of $12 or more and at least one canned good, participants will receive an event map, punch card and ballot that will enable them to sample soups all afternoon and vote for their favorite. They'll visit South Side businesses, including art and photo galleries, where soups will be served. Chefs from more than a dozen restaurants (including Gypsy Café, Mario's South Side Saloon, Rivas Restaurant, Yo Rita and Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh) will compete for the most votes.

The event is always a great boost to South Side businesses, says Jennifer Jeffers, who has helped organize the contest for several years. It brings people to the South Side in the daytime and introduces them to businesses not located directly on the Carson Street.

Another plus: All canned goods are given to the Brashear Association, which operates two food pantries -- the Brashear Center on the South Side and the Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House in Arlington. With these pantries facing an increasing demand, this year's drive is more needed than ever. Jeffers, a board member at both the Brashear Association and the nonprofit South Side Local Development Company, says the outpouring of support was incredible last year, and she's hoping for a similar turnout this year.

Attendance was also high last year: Nearly 1,700 people from all over Southwestern Pennsylvania came to sample soups (see pix above). So prospective "soup hoppers" are advised to buy tickets in advance this year, because the event will be limited to 1,200 participants to avoid running out of soup.