Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 20, 1994
Simmering With The Soupremes
by Susan Stevenot Sullivan
Before you find the kitchen at Our Lady of the Assumption, mouth-watering aromas and bursts of laughter signal the location.
The clink of ladles, the swish of pans sliding across steel tables and the thunk of refrigerator and oven doors form the percussion background for the lively conversation and laughter which is the distinctive sound of the Soupremes.
Meals, not melodies, are their claim to fame. Every Monday from November through March, when shelters for the homeless are open, the group meets to cook the main meal for the 75 people who will dine at the Central Presbyterian shelter on Tuesday.
We try to send food wed prepare for our own families said Pat Branford, who purchases the supplies for the group and coordinates kitchen activities. We sit down as a family afterwards to eat it.
The Soupremes cook enough on Monday to share a meal among themselves that evening, which is when they plan the next weeks menu.
This weeks offering is a favorite at the shelter: meat loaf with piquant sauce from a members secret family recipe, green beans, buttered baked potatoes, rolls and applesauce with cinnamon and brown sugar.
The group of tens other hits include Turkey Tetrazzini, apple crisp made from scratch and scalloped potatoes.
The Soupremes do catering, usually at the parish center, during the shelter off-season to raise money to buy food. They have served as many as 300 guests at wedding and anniversary receptions. The catering fee includes supplies and an additional generous donation to Mercy Sister Carolyn Oberkirchs parish outreach ministries, among which the Soupremes are numbered.
Parishioners have also enthusiastically supported the Soupremes efforts in the six years they have been performing together.
Other valuable assistance comes from a nearby Harris Teeter grocery store, which in October began donating meat, produce and bakery goods. They are very generous, said Sister Oberkirch.
Mrs. Branford said she became involved in the ministry because it was a more direct way of providing help to people who need it.
My husband and I were looking at a list of our charitable donations after doing our taxes, she said. We felt some of the money didnt get where we wanted it to go. This way you can see what youre giving. The feedback we get is really good. The volunteers at the shelter look forward to working on Tuesdays. (Shelter volunteers share the meal.)
The Soupremes look forward to working on Mondays.
Eating together forms community for us, said Mary Dufries, up to her elbows in herbed butter for the baked potatoes. We all contribute recipes. We have a lot of fun.
So much fun that it is difficult to stop laughing long enough to eat the meal shared around a large table in a windowless room adjoining the kitchen. A favorite tale at this meal is the time the group made stew with donated deer meat, and then went out for a fast-food dinner - no one could bring themselves to eat Bambi.
The relatively small size of the group is due to limitations dictated by work space in the kitchen. A list of those eager to substitute for members missing a Monday is kept by Mrs. Branford.
The Soupremes who eat dinner each Monday make a monetary contribution. This past Christmas those funds were used to give a beribboned bag containing socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream and deodorant to the homeless people who came for the holiday meal.
Its not a chore. Its not a struggle, Mrs. Branford said of the many hours the group donates. Once they asked us to skip a week and then changed their minds at the last minute. We were so happy. We feel almost possessive about sending food.