This Saturday, restaurants and food shops will open their doors and crank up their soup pots for the fourth-annual Smith Street Festivale Des Soupes. Twenty-five neighborhood favorites along the strip spanning from Atlantic Avenue to Second Street will participate in this year’s “soup crawl,” a friendly cook-off-turned-fund-raiser to benefit the Culinary Arts Program at the nearby School for International Studies, a public high school on Baltic Street in Cobble Hill.
“It’s like a ‘bar crawl,’ ” said Bette Stoltz, executive director of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation, which organizes the festival, “only with soup instead of alcohol.”
The festival, which organizers describe as “delicious” and “warming,” will feature the best that local establishments have to offer when it comes to soup. For the truly delicious, golden, silver, and bronze ladles will be awarded to the winners in each of the three categories: vegetarian, meat, and seafood.
And restaurants and shops are getting creative in preparation for the crawl. At Nightingale 9, a new Smith Street Vietnamese restaurant from the same team behind nearby Smith Street favorite Seersucker, chef Morgan Jarrett will serve up Congee with Sausage, Biscuit Crouton and Scallions.
Nightingale 9 co-owner Kerry Diamond says participating in the event draws attention to their restaurant and a great cause. She participated last year with Seersucker, which took home a gold ladle for Heirloom Tomato Soup.
“We love the soup festival. It’s a lot of fun, it’s for a great cause, and it highlights the fact that there are so many amazing restaurants in this neighborhood,” said Diamond.
Down the street, Peter Shelsky of Shelsky’s Smoked Fish also plans to defend his gold ladle, which he won last year for his Celeriac and Apple Soup with Kippered Salmon. This year, he will be mixing things up with a seasonally inspired Chestnut and Wild-Mushroom Soup with Cognac Macerated Prunes.
“I love fall,” he said, “and I seriously love soup.”
For just $5, participants can taste up to five soups. The South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation and Culinary Arts Program split the profit 50-50, which usually brings in up to $2,000 for each organization. The Culinary Arts Program uses the profits to help fund a state-of-the-art classroom, hands-on cooking instruction, and visits from neighborhood guest chefs.
“If we charged more we could make more, but we want to keep it very affordable and neighborhood friendly,” said Stoltz.
The soup judges this year include Peter DeNat of the Brooklyn Yelp Team and local hardware store owner, and Pumpkin Fest organizer Matthew Mazzone, who will taste samples from each participating establishment and proclaim the winners.
But the real winner, of course, is the Culinary Arts Program, which the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation helped found with support from outgoing Borough President Markowitz.
“What a gem it is,” said Stoltz, speaking of the Culinary Arts Program, “and what a great addition to the public educational bounty available to young people in our borough.”
Festivale Des Soupes (Smith Street from Atlantic Avenue to Second Street in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, www.smiths