SPRING HILL — Bacon-lettuce-and-tomato soup, stuffed pepper soup, Greek aveno lemono soup, oyster and artichoke bisque.
Those will be just a few of the choices among chefs' offerings Saturday at the second annual soup-a-thon fundraiser sponsored by St. Frances Cabrini Knights of Columbus Council 13209 and St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in the church social hall.
More than 50 restaurants from Hernando and Pasco counties, as well as 27 parishioners, are donating at least 2 gallons of their special recipes — some more — for a total of nearly 200 gallons of tummy-warming concoctions, said project chairman Jack Hauser.
For $5, diners may enjoy as many of the soups as they desire, ladled out in 5-ounce portions.
"Five ounces is a lot of soup," Hauser cautioned.
Bread and crackers will be provided. Coffee, tea, water and soda will be available.
In addition, women of the church will hold a bake sale — one cut of homemade pie, one slice of cake or a plate of cookies — to complement the soups.
Hauser said he expanded on the soup idea from a parish in Grove City, Pa., where women served favorite bubbling pots from their kitchens.
"I went out and solicited restaurants, knocking on doors, writing letters," he said.
Last year, for the first soup-a-thon, only one of 48 restaurants declined to participate.
In return for their largesse, the restaurants will post advertisements around the hall, and each soup will be labeled with the restaurant's name.
Supervising the kitchen again this year will be chef Al Notaro, a parish member and Knight.
A recent newcomer to Spring Hill, Notaro previously served as sous chef for nationally acclaimed chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans and talk show host Oprah Winfrey, a self-proclaimed foodie. He has cooked in 50 states and 28 countries.
He said he followed his fiancee, Maria LittleBear, to Hernando County, and the couple now owns Rescue Me at Skinnys, a restaurant in Hudson, and Rescue Me Catering.
Notaro will be among Saturday's chefs, providing the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato soup.
"I have people who eat this and ask how I did it," he said. "It tastes just like the sandwich."
Cooking has been a longtime passion of Notaro's.
"I've been cooking with my grandmother since I was 11 years old. I haven't left the kitchen since," he said.
An extra feature at the soup-a-thon will be a raffle, five tickets for $25. Purchasers can deposit their tickets into pots for selected prizes: big-screen TVs, lawn care for a year, Show Palace Dinner Theater outings, a year of oil changes and carwashes, rounds of golf at various clubs, a counter's worth of small kitchen appliances. Prizes are valued from $100 to $850. Winners do not need be present to win.
To overcome a dinner-time rush last year, the Knights have scheduled four sittings on Saturday, to be chosen at the time of ticket purchase: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 1:30 to 3 p.m., 3:30 to 5 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Only advance tickets are being sold, from the parish office at 5030 Mariner Blvd. or from Knights members. No tickets will be sold at the door.
If the aforementioned exotic soups don't tempt you, there will be many others to try: tomato basil soup, chicken and dumpling soup, cheeseburger soup, chili, Manhattan clam chowder, lobster bisque, Maryland cream crab soup.
If the menu entices you to stay all day, Hauser and the Knights offer a treat: a $20 ticket that, indeed, allows a diner to indulge the entire day.
Proceeds will benefit charities, including the St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Dawn Center and local seminary students. It also will help pay for upgrades and maintenance at St. Frances Cabrini.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]