On Sunday night, no matter who they're rooting for, everybody at the Kearney Souper Bowl leaves a winner.
That's because Leslie and Bob Kearney throw a Super Bowl party that empowers guests to simultaneously combat February frostbite and the crushing ennui of the Buffalo Bills fan. Soup is the answer: warming, nourishing, and prepared in a dizzying array of varieties.
Seven to 10 soups and stews arrive at the Kearneys' Williamsville home before the big game. Partygoers can browse between choices like Scottish Hunter's Soup, Chicken Chili, Pacific Northwest Clam Chowder and Crab Bisque.
Then after the 15 to 20 guests have their fill, they ladle more into two-cup takeaway bowls. Score!
"Everybody's making a pot of soup, but you get a freebie night with three or four things you didn't make," said Leslie Kearney, a retired speech therapist. "Soup is so nice in February."
The Kearneys have been throwing their Souper Bowl since the late 1990s, several years after they moved to the Buffalo area from Cleveland. "I moved around a lot as a kid, and I kind of learned that when you're the new kid in town, it's good to reach out, and reaching out with food is the best way," said Leslie Kearney. "So actually the first year we lived here, I had people I'd just met over."
So with the urge to share the football championship game -- Bob, from Lewiston, is a lifelong Bills fan -- she asked herself: "How could I entertain 16 to 20 people without killing myself on the weekend?" After all, she still had two kids at home.
Then she hit on the soup-centric formula. Evey year she supplies counter space and extension cords for crockpots, plus bread, appetizers and dessert. She makes a soup or two, and guests do the rest. They mostly subsist on appetizers until halftime, then it's open season on the soups.
"It becomes a really fun get-together that is not a lot of work for me," she said.
Each cook also brings a copy of his or her recipe. With the help of Bob's copy machine, tasters can take home the blueprint to their favorite.
In 2004, one of the Souper Bowl stars was lobster bisque.
"Everybody said, 'I've been smelling good stuff, I heard there was lobster bisque,' " Kearney said. At halftime, everyone was filling their bowls and missed Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction."
The one guest who saw it, a retired Buffalo State College professor, called to the hungry crowd at Kearney's, "You won't believe what just happened on TV," Kearney remembered.
Nobody believed it, she said. They said, "You're just trying to cut the line for the bisque."
>Stormy Day Bean Soup
1 pound dried navy beans
7 cups water
1 ham bone
2 cups cubed cooked smoked ham
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
Rinse beans. Put in saucepan with water and heat to boiling; boil gently 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Add remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat; cover and simmer about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until beans are soft. Skim off foam occasionally. Add more water if needed.
Remove bay leaf and ham bone. Season to taste. Makes 7 one-cup servings.
-- Karen Keaton, Buffalo
Abuela's Garbanzo Bean Soup
1 ham hock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cans garbanzo beans, unrinsed
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large bay leaf, or more
1 packet Goya Sazon seasoning (see note)
Salt and pepper to taste
The day before: Fill 8-quart pot with 6 quarts water and boil ham hock until meat is cooked. Take off heat, remove hock, and shred meat. Refrigerate stock overnight, then remove as much fat as possible.
While reheating stock, in a small frying pan, slowly saute garlic in heated olive oil. Do not let garlic brown. Add onion and pepper, and saute until tender. Add pan contents to stock.
Add garbanzo beans, cubed potato, bay leaf, shredded ham and Sazon. (Note: A powdered mixture of garlic, cumin, saffron and turmeric, Sazon is an essential ingredient, adding flavor and color to the soup. Find it in Latino or international section.)
Bring to boil uncovered, then lower to simmer and cover. Cook until potato is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add water if necessary, or for a heartier texture, remove cover while ingredients talk together. I puree some of the soup with a blender stick. For a creamy texture, puree the entire soup.
-- Elena Delgado, Orchard Park
Escarole and White Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 head escarole, chopped
1 piece Parmesan rind (available at some cheese counters)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 can white beans
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Salt, to taste
Heat olive oil in pot, and saute garlic until soft but not browned.
Add broth, escarole, and Parmesan rind. Simmer 15 minutes.
Add pepper, beans, cheese and salt to taste. (To make Sausage Bean Soup, use above recipe, but saute and add 4 chopped sweet Italian sausages with the garlic.) (This recipe is gluten-free.)
-- Cassie Kearney Bordeau, Boston, Mass.
Beef Barley Soup
3 pounds soup/stew beef, cut in bite-size pieces
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 large carrots, sliced
2 cans French onion soup
2 cans beef consomme
32 ounces beef stock
32 ounces chicken stock
1 cup pearl barley
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place all ingredients in a deep soup pot; bring to a boil, skim foam off surface.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 2 hours or until meat is very tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.
-- Marcia Conny, Orchard Park
Pacific Northwest Clam Chowder
4 slices thick cut bacon, cut crosswise in 1/2 -inch pieces
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 10-ounce cans whole baby clams, undrained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream
Pinch of thyme
Fry bacon until crisp; drain, leaving drippings in pan. In a four-quart pot, boil the potatoes in salted water until soft (5-8 minutes).
Saute onion in bacon fat. Remove softened potatoes from cooking liquid with slotted spoon and set aside. Allow potato liquid to continue to simmer until reduced by half and slightly thickened.
Combine the reduced potato water, bacon, onions, potatoes and clam liquor. (Reserve clams.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Slowly add cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add reserved clams.
Heat gently, until almost boiling, but do not boil, as clams will toughen. Stir in a pinch of thyme just before serving. Serves 6-8 depending, on whether it is an appetizer or main course. Note: Omit clams and liquor, and it's a tasty potato soup. Add vegetables for a vegetable chowder.
-- Pam Pollock, Buffalo
ON THE WEB: See more Souper Bowl favorites at blogs.buffalonews.com/hungryformore