With more than 80 soups for sampling at the Buffalo Soup-Fest, it's wise for slurpers to have a plan of attack. After all, there's only so much salt your body can handle, and if you're going to drop $25 on a ticket and roughly eight soup samples, savvy choices are crucial to enjoying the festival.
The ninth annual Soup-Fest runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, and admission is $5 to get in. Each soup sample costs $2 or $3.
Here are The News' eight suggestions for what to try, ordered by booth number. See the map at the bottom of the page for booth locations.
*Ms. Judi's garlic and ginger soup, stand located between escalators.
Why you should try it: It's the Soup-Fest debut for this food truck, which rolls in with an adventurous jjigae (a spicy pork and kimchi soup), but also an immune system-boosting and approachable garlic and ginger soup. Who couldn't use a boost to their immune system right now? Also, the garlic and ginger soup is vegan, making it consumable in virtually every diet.
[See Ms. Judi's in 2018 Buffalo News food truck guide]
*Winfield's Pub's fish fry soup, Booth 8.
Why you should try it: A fish fry in a soup? The unusual combo comprises cream of fresh cod and toppings of housemade slaw, tartar sauce and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer-battered crisps. The smooth and crunchy textures should complement each other well and also set the mood for the coming fish fry season.
[Related: Check out a bar feature on Winfield's Pub]
*Danny's Original Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup, Booths 11 and 12.
Why you should try it: The reigning winner of Best Buffalo-Style soup is back again to defend its crown with a zesty bowl that packs in more chicken than you'd think. It's a distinctive Buffalo dish, beloved for warming up after frigid Bills home games and less messy than saucy drums and flats. Note: This is the only soup that repeats from the 2018 list of Soup-Fest suggestions.
*Joe's Deli's pierogi soup, Booths 13 and 14.
Why you should try it: Joe's Deli owner Joseph Lyons describes this soup, one of a festival-high six on its menu, as a deconstructed pierogi. The cream-based soup brings together potato, cheese, sauerkraut and bacon, a hearty combination made for February. Joe's, with two locations in the city and three in total, is a regular winner at Soup-Fest and snared Best in the City last year.
*Alleyway Bistro's roasted red pepper with gouda, Booth 16.
Why you should try it: Alleyway Bistro is less than a year old, but owner Mike Zak wakes up early in the morning to make his soups from scratch. (He even had to cut short his binge-watching of "Orange Is the New Black.") The roasted red pepper with gouda has been a staple from the start; it's smooth, rich and flavorful.
[Related: Read a Cheap Eats on Alleyway Bistro in West Seneca]
*Water Lily Cafe's Khao Soi, Booth 21.
Why you should try it: Savory Asian-inspired soups are usually abundant at Soup-Fest, and Water Lily's Khao Soi - a spicy Northern Thai egg noodle soup, with a potent curry flavor and crispy noodles on top for texture - makes the cut. The Cheektowaga restaurant has altered its menu to reflect more traditional street food from Thailand, as Andrew Galarneau reported last month.
*East Eden Tavern and Smokehouse's creamy dill pickle soup with pork, Booth 26.
Why you should try it: Dill pickle flavor continues to be on-trend, and it pairs majestically with savory, fatty pork. East Eden makes a fairly long trek - relative to the other Soup-Fest participants - but it will come prepared with the smoked meats that have become a source of pride for the tavern.
*Penny Lane Cafe's Magic Mushroom soup, Booths 33 and 34.
Why you should try it: The Clarence cafe's entry can be especially magical if you choose to add CBD oil - a super-trendy non-intoxicating part of the cannabis flower - for an additional soup ticket. This from-scratch soup weaves in both crimini and portobello mushrooms, cream and parmesan and Swiss cheeses.