A minestrone soup infused with a little bit of pureed pumpkin proved to be the winner in another close vote in the second matchup of the opening round of the Kootenay Granite Stone Soup challenge at the Salvation Army.
Created by Chef Graham Barnes of Max’s Place, the minestrone soup won by four votes at 31-27 over a golden carrot and apple soup which was prepared by celebrity chef David D. Hull, the executive director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce.
Barnes incorporated a mystery ingredient of pureed pumpkin that Hull brought to the table. Hull, in turn, decided to use quail eggs, which was the mystery ingredient that Barnes hoped would throw off his opponent.
Barnes noted that a mystery ingredient of marshmallows—mentioned at the press conference announcing the stone soup challenge, or the chocolate snack pack pudding—used by Chef Doug Wagner in the opening round—made him use his culinary imagination.
However, the pureed pumpkin wasn’t as difficult to manage as he thought.
“My mystery ingredient was pureed pumpkin, which I thought could’ve been worse, that’s for sure, but it worked with what I was doing,” Barnes said. “It can have a nice texture and maybe a little sweetness and add a little richness to the soup.”
When it came to doling out his mystery ingredient, Barnes figured quail eggs would give Hull a tough challenge.
“Going through the canned aisle at the store, you see some weird stuff,” Barnes said. “Eggs can be a tough ingredient to incorporate into the soup, so I thought it’d be a pretty good one.”
When he walked into the kitchen and got a chance to look at the pantry, Barnes decided to go with the minestrone.
“I had about three types of soup, a tomato soup—everybody likes a tomato soup with pasta in it, a chowder of some sort or a brothy soup,” Barnes said. “I saw tomatoes right away and pasta, and just went that route.”
Hull decided to go with an old favourite—a golden carrot and apple soup—once he realized he had all the necessary ingredients.
“The carrot soup idea was in my head, it’s an old favourite I like to make, so you gotta have carrots and onions and the basics,” Hull said.
“I looked around and there was a lot of apples and I just about went with a pureed apple and apple chunk combination, but I stuck to the carrot idea.
“You survey the pantry, survey the fridge and away you go.”
He even incorporated the quail eggs that Barnes brought along.
“When I saw that there was enough carrots and onions to make my soup—it’s a puree soup, so I thought 12 little quail eggs in four gallons of soup is not going to have too much of an effect one way or another, so I threw the quail eggs in and pureed it altogether,” Hull said.
As both Barnes and Hull used the mystery ingredient in their soup, both were awarded five extra points in the final voting tally, which was polled by the Salvation Army clientele.
Barnes is a returning veteran from the first annual event last year, however, Hull gave him a good run in the challenge, losing out by only four votes.
“It’s a very well stocked kitchen and the staff was very helpful and the people who came for lunch, that was my favourite part, was serving the people and getting to talk to them for a few moments,” Hull said.
The Kootenay Granite Stone Soup Challenge is a joint fundraiser that is being split between the Salvation Army’s proposed 24/7 homeless shelter and the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation’s general endowment fund.
Next up on Friday, Feb. 19, will be Chef Kevin McDonald of West Coast Grill going up against Carmen Alaric, who will be in home territory as the resident chef of the Salvation Army.
After two weeks of elimination rounds, a final showdown between the last two chefs standing will be held at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort on March 2, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Max’s Place, through the CDCF office by calling 250-426-1119 or online through Snapd East Kootenay.