Close to 20 active seniors congregated at the Southeastern Indiana YMCA conference room recently for a Soup Cook-Off planned by senior adult coordinator Amber Deardorff.

Senior director of program services Jenny Salyer gave a quick blessing: “We thank you for this group of people who are gathered today” and for the five chef competitors who provided lunch.

The attendees judged the soups – bean and ham, vegetable, corn chowder, beef barley and New England clam chowder – on uniqueness, aroma, consistency, appearance and flavor, rating them on a 1-5 scale.

To round out the meal, the men and women were asked to bring a soup or a side. Other dishes included cornbread muffins with honey butter, cheese slices, celery with peanut butter, mini ham and cheese sandwiches, oyster crackers, veggies and dip, hanky pankies (homemade pizza appetizers), cornbread and cheese squares, chips and guacamole and sugar cream pie.

So the ritual was eat and score, eat and score, eat and score, eat and score, eat and score – and probably there was a bit of belt loosening.

While Deardorff was tallying up the votes, the diners chatted about a variety of topics, from grandkids to upcoming community feasts.

Then three winners were applauded: first place, vegetable soup, Velma Placke, Batesville; second, easy clam chowder, Sandi Jester, Morris; and third, bean and ham soup, Kathy Wagner, Oldenburg.

Of her ingenious way to cut down on food waste, Placke said, “I enjoyed making this soup and I’m glad everybody liked it!”

It was a close contest. Just one point separated the second and third place winners. All received bags full of goodies – cups, a carry pouch, pill container, drink mixer, shower gel, body lotion and candle.

The other competitors, both from Batesville, Kimi Mindoro, who created the corn chowder; and James and Mary Reinhart, who made the beef barley soup, were appreciated as well.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at or 812-717-3113.

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