There's nothing cozier than a piping hot bowl of soup on a chilly winter night. That first sip? warms the soul. Or should I say solstice?

On December 21, Feeding Laramie Valley invites Laramie and SE Wyoming residents to enjoy an evening of soul-warming soup and merry company at the Second Annual Soup & Solstice cook-off. The event features homemade soups presented by local contestants, handcrafted bowls from local artisans, and a silent auction.

You're Invited: Soup & Solstice 2023 Details

Soup & Solstice happens on December 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at LaBonte Park (968 N. 9th St. Laramie, WY). Soup entries are accepted until December 20 at 4 p.m. To qualify for judging, your soup form must be submitted to Feeding Laramie Valley, either online, by mail, or in person. Competing soups must be dropped off at the event on December 21 by 4 p.m. Attendees will vote for the best soups - 1st through 3rd place winners will receive recognition and prizes.

During the event, guests can purchase a handcrafted bowl to fill with the delicious soups available (there will also be free, disposable bowls on site.) Additionally, attendees can bid on silent auction items from local vendors during the event.

What kinds of soups are allowed?

"We encourage any type of soup or stew to be entered, from family recipes to an item you have been wanting to try! We do not, however, allow 'ready-to-eat' type of packaged soups or chili." explained Guillermo Avalos from Feed Laramie Valley. So, pull out the family cookbook and find that beloved recipe Grandam always made...but steer clear of any help from Campbell Soup.

Need some examples? "Last year, we had an amazing variety of soups: Ukrainian Borscht, a Thai Tom Kha, broccoli and cheese soup, and lentil soup, to name a few," said Guillermo. "This year promises to continue the tradition of having delicious international soups and classic comfort soups. This year, we already [sic] have a variety of community members and soups entered."

To register a soup for the event, click here.
What kind of reusable bowls might we expect at the event available for purchase? Ceramic? Clay? Glass? 

Guillermo noted that numerous pieces were donated last year, including handmade ceramic and wood bowls. "This year, we also have a variety of artists in Laramie, Fort Collins, and Cheyenne! Each Bowl contains the artist who made it, so if you find an artist you really like, you can support their work!"

Why celebrate on the Winter Solstice? Is it just for the catchy name 'Soup & Solstice'?

According to the History Channel, humans may have celebrated the winter solstice as early as 10,200 B.C.E.  "The winter solstice represents the time of the longest night and the start of winter, astronomically. The winter solstice also represents a gradual rebirth of nature," explained Guillermo.

Cultures worldwide have celebrated the winter solstice as a time of renewal with feasting and celebrations. Feeding Laramie Valley seeks to emulate that tradition at Soup & Solstice. "By bringing together our communities for a feast, we are doing what we do best and nourishing our community through the winter months. Following the date, nights become shorter and days become longer - we approach the spring and the warmness of the sun where we resume our normal operations of growing high-quality local food right here in our city to give back to the community."

What will funds from the event go towards?

Your donations at the Soup & Solstice dinner go right back into the Laramie community. "All the funds raised go directly back to Feeding Laramie Valley's mission-driven programs," said Guillermo.

Putting Fresh Produce on Albany County Tables

"One of our biggest programs is our Shares program, where we distribute fresh Produce, high quality produce year-round from our own production gardens and from regional producers sourced through Big Hollow Food Co-op. Weekly, our program distributes to over 500 individuals in Albany County."

Helping Nourish Kids

"Funds continue supporting programs like Kids Out To Lunch, our summer program for kids that continue being a source of nutritious food for children in the period when children do not have access to school meals. During the summer months, children are at greater risk of both obesity and malnourishment.  Children also get to participate in summer enrichment programs, which means that children are not only well-fed, but in a safe environment engaged in academic and recreational activities.​"

Serving Rural Locations

Our Mobile Market is our newest and most innovative program. A meals-on-wheels mobile grocery, the mobile market seeks to serve rural and underserved locations with less secure sources of food.

What do you hope to achieve with the event?

The team at Feed Laramie Valley hopes to achieve the core mission of the organization: "Sharing the best of what we have to create collaborative, community-led food systems that are sustainable, equitable and just." 

For Feeding Laramie Valley, "Soup and Solstice brings these key drivers together, showcasing the diverse cultures and connection to food in Albany County through a free and delicious shared community meal that is welcome to all community members. In addition to the soup cook-off, we are raising funds to support the increasing need for our programs through a Silent Auction and having unique, handcrafted bowls available for purchase!"

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Gallery Credit: Dave Fields