Get your taste buds revved up for this weekend — the Soup Stroll is Saturday.
Twenty-nine restaurants are expecting you.
“I’ve been waiting for three years to do this,” said Chelsea Heilmann, owner and chef at Take Two Cafe. “I used to be on Jay Street and the first time in 2020 I’d just opened so I missed that year. And last year — I opened in May on State Street — it was the pandemic. So I’m really excited.”
While this is the first time Heilmann has participated, the stroll itself started in 2016.
“We’d established the Wing Walk in October, which was very successful, and noticed there were lots of people around town,” said Jim Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation. “Restauranters indicated they’d like something else for people to do in the cooler weather. Since we had a track record, that helped to coordinate with the restuarants.”
Sixteen restaurants signed on that first year and thousands of people came to sample a three-ounce cup of soup at $1.
“It was quite busy . . . bustling,” Salengo said
Judges from various food networks or blogs were asked to vote on the soups in three categories: Golden Tureen (1st place); Silver Ladle (2nd place); Bronze Ladle (third place) and honorable mentions, which could be anything from the best topping to most creative. People could also vote for their favorites.
Salengo, himself, walked the circuit and discovered that because the restaurants were all close enough together, he could try a few samples, then “reset my hunger and get my appetite up” for the next rounds.
The stroll became a downtown fixture and except for last year has been held each year. This time around, because of the pandemic, there will be no guest judges. However, people can still vote either via social media or a paper ballot.
A map and the list and locations of the restaurants and ballot boxes will be posted. Ballots will be collected at the end of the day.
While the mechanics of getting the stroll organized are set, the chefs are busy creating all kinds of offerings from soups to bisques, chowders to stews or gumbos.
Heilmann is making a Cajun Street Corn Chowder.
“It’s a new soup for us,” she said. “We’re all vegan and gluten free here, but corn is a new ingredient.
“I’ll make a pilot batch and test it out on my employees, garnish it and see how it looks. I expect to make about 75 gallons.”
Over at Isopo’s Downtown Pizza on Erie Boulevard, chef Anthony Bianchine will have been prepping all week. He’s making Broccoli, Bacon, Beer Soup with Mad Jack Beer.
“I’m a veteran of the Soup Stroll,” he said. “I was at Pinhead Susan’s for seven years and three years here. We have soup daily here but I’ll be making maybe up to 100 gallons. And I like to stay local. The beer is from Van Dyke’s. But I love the Soup Stroll. I’m a competitor. The stroll brings out the sports guy in me.”
Salengo said the only thing he hopes for is great weather.
“Half of the fun is getting together with friends and walking from place to place. People then can also see all the added improvements and changes and get to know restaurants they hadn’t known about,” he said.
The list at lower left is of the 29 restaurants and what they’re offering.
The price is still the same: $1 for a three-ounce cup of soup.
6th annual Schenectady Soup Stroll
What: 29 restaurants offering 3-ounce cups of soup for $1
When: Saturday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m. -4 p.m.
Where: Throughout downtown Schenectady
The restaurants and their soups
1. 151 Bar & Restaurant – Chicken & Dumpling Soup
2. Annabel’s Pizza Co. at Frog Alley – Kielbasa & Cabbage
3. The Backstage Pub – Roasted Red Pepper Bisque w/ Grilled Cheese Crouton
4. Bittersweet Candy – Chocolate Peppermint Soup
5. Bombers Burrito Bar – Pollo Loco
6. Bountiful Bread on State – Tomato Pesto Bisque w/ Grilled Cheese Croutons
7. Bud’s on Jay – Jerk Chicken Chili
8. Centre Street Pub – Reuben on Rails
9. Civitello’s Italian Pastry Shoppe – Pasta Fagioli
10. Cornells in Little Italy – Toasted Pumpkin Pie Bisque
11. The DillyBean – Mexican Street Taco Soup
12. Hunter’s On Jay – Chicken Wing Chowder
13. Isopo’s Downtown Pizza – Broccoli & Bacon Beer Soup made w/ Mad Jack Beer
14. Johnny’s Italian American Restaurant – Chicken Pot Pie Soup
15. Katie O’Byrne’s Restaurant – Katie’s Irish Chowder
16. Mad Jack Brewing Co. @ the Van Dyck – Beer Cheese Soup
17. Manhattan Exchange – Steak & Poblano Chowder w/ Tostones (Fried Plantains)
18. Maria’s Cafe & Catering – Gumbo
19. Mexican Radio Schenectady – Mexican Minestrone
20. MORE Perreca’s Italian Kitchen – Zuppa di Pesce (Italian Fish Stew)
21. The Nest Restaurant and Bar – Chicken & Biscuit Soup
22. Nico’s Pizzeria – The Triple “C” Clam Chowder
23. Perreca’s Bakery – Greens & Beans
24. Pinhead Susan’s – Traditonal Irish Stew
25. Raw Juice & Smoothie Bar Inc. – Carrot Ginger Soup
26. Take Two Café – Cajun Street Corn Chowder
27. Tara Kitchen – Creamy Mediterranean Polenta Pottage w/ Black Salt Seasoned Potato Sticks
28. True Juice Cafe – Chicken White Bean Chili
29. The Union Inn – Hearty Beef Barley