SPRING HILL — In January 2011, when the Knights of Columbus at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church ladled up their first soup-a-thon, the amateur stirrers and servers hoped for chilly weather in order to draw a crowd.
As it turned out, the weather didn't make a smidgen of difference — then or in the two years since. Each year, all 1,100 tickets for the fundraiser have been gobbled up, chairman Jack Houser said.
Plenty more samplers are expected for the fourth annual event, scheduled for Jan. 11, with 45-minute seatings beginning at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Six new restaurants and caterers will be among 63 professional donors of their most popular soup pot concoctions. In addition, volunteer chefs from the parish — 27 women and men — will contribute their simmered specialties.
First-time professionals joining in are Nina's Cucina, Thousand Island Cafe, Mondays Southern Style Food and Catering, and Evergreen Woods Health and Rehabilitation, all of Spring Hill; BeckyJack's Food Shack of Weeki Wachee and Chef Images of Brooksville.
"We ask that they make two or three gallons of their favorite soup," Houser said. "Some give more."
Joining past crowd pleasers such as seafood bisque, pasta e fagioli, crab and corn will be several newcomers, including tomato-basil-Parmesan and Greek lemon soups.
Baskets of bakery breads will grace the tables for the all-you-can-eat $5 sitdown.
"It's the best bargain in town," Houser said.
The soup-a-thon has grown into more than a chance to fill the tummy, with friends and neighborhoods ordering blocks of tickets for convivial gatherings. Many will fill tables of eight. Houser said a Hudson woman has reserved 30 tickets for this year's fest.
Tickets are available by calling or visiting the parish office.
Proceeds will benefit various charities supported by the Knights of Columbus.
"The first principle of the Knights," said Houser, "is charity."
Beth Gray can be contacted at email@example.com.