Buffalo's frosty winters lend themselves to soups as a form of comfort; they're like salty blankets that shield from the elements and warm the stomach.
While hearty chicken noodle soup, a bowl of long-simmering pho or a cup of French onion lurking beneath bubbly cheese might be your personal favorite, Buffalo Soup-Fest is the annual opportunity to try something less traditional.
Adventurous options abound at the 10th anniversary event, held across two sessions, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m., on Jan. 26 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Tickets are $4 in advance for entry with soup prices range between $2 and $3. Parking is $5.
Joe's Deli's Garbage Plate-inspired soup
Joe's Deli has been to nine of the 10 Soup-Fests, said owner Joseph Lyons, claiming an award at each appearance. The plaques are scattered around the walls of the Hertel location. One of Soup-Fest's specialty options is the Garbage Plate soup inspired by Rochester's Nick Tahou Hots, inventors of the comfort food.
Lyons explained that the soup will incorporate several Buffalo-made products, from Weber's Mustard to Sahlen's Hot Dogs to meats from Ford Brothers near Springville. Expect a hearty concoction similar to a stew or chili. "It's something you'd want to eat after a fun weekend, something to satisfy after some extracurricular [activities]," he said.
Physical location: Three locations – Oishei Children's Hospital (818 Ellicott St.), 1322 Hertel Ave. and 714 Maple Road in Williamsville.
[Look back: 8 soups to try at the 2019 Buffalo Soup-Fest]
Papi Grande's sour cream chicken enchilada soup
Fresh off People's Choice recognition at the Mac Attack, this Amherst restaurant rolls into Soup-Fest with creamy and smooth Southwestern flavor that's a play off the classic chicken enchilada. Papi Grande's other two offerings are gluten-free, but the restaurant's chef, Cody Hix, expects to reel in more hardware thanks to this savory dish. Read more about Papi Grande's presence near the University at Buffalo.
Physical location: 4276 Maple Road, Amherst.
The Terrace at Delaware Park's spicy African peanut soup
This recipe has roots. Terrace partner Jason Davidson inherited this vibrant, rich, subtly potent soup from Jamie Zynda, a former Buffalo chef whom he worked with at Liberty Hound and Waterline Cafe. (The soup, both vegan and gluten-free, captured Best Soup at the inaugural Buffalo Soup-Fest, Davidson said, if you needed any more convincing to try it).
Physical location: 199 Lincoln Parkway.
[Read more: The Terrace offers drinks with a gorgeous view]
The Howling Rooster's chicken wing soup
There's not a standard chicken wing soup in Buffalo, even if Danny's – another Soup-Fest winner – is the best known. The Howling Rooster's house soup is chicken wing, as the restaurant-bar on the edge of Kenmore and Buffalo rolls through a 5-gallon batch each week.
It's so thick in consistency that some customers, in a pinch for an appetizer, will buy a bowl and pour it over cream cheese to serve with tortilla chips.
Owner Caren Paterniti explained that the Howling Rooster uses higher-end ingredients – all-white meat chicken breast and blocks of quality white cheddar – in preparing the soup, which boasts the sting of a hot sauce that's not Frank's.
Physical location: 529 Englewood Ave.
[Related: Stop by the Howling Rooster for tasty, affordable meal]
773 North's Mexican street corn chowder
The Grand Island restaurant's executive chef and co-owner, Christy Zippier, may offer a daily menu that features chicken riggies and a floating pork chop, but she admits that she simply loves to make soup.
After winning Best of the Suburbs at the 2019 Soup-Fest, Zippier's selection includes a cream-based soup starring grilled corn, Sriracha mayo, cotija cheese, cilantro and lime. A bonus: It's far easier to eat than your classic Mexican street corn.
Physical location: 2749 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island.
[Related: Andrew Galarneau's dining review at 773 North]
Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino's savory loganberry cold soup
Seneca Niagara commissary chef John Davidson presents a Western New York theme to his trio of soups for this year's Soup-Fest, and in addition to classic chicken wing and pizza soups, the most intriguing is one built around loganberry, the quirky, sweet beverage popularized by Crystal Beach, which once bustled in southern Ontario.
Davidson's version weaves loganberry into the structure of a Polish soup called zupa malinowa, a cold raspberry soup. With the local twist added, the soup is creamy but not overly sweet, appearing an almost lavender shade of purple.
Physical location: 310 4th St., Niagara Falls.