‘Saturday Soup’ serves up Mexican meatballs, goat chili

Front, from left, Sharin Leppert serves a bowl of soup to Ampy Bellinger. (Jan. 30, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

With flavors ranging from Mexican meatballs to curry, Cordova Church of the Nazarene’s Jan. 30 “Saturday Soup” event was a far cry from an ordinary church soup kitchen.

The event was run as a public potluck, with volunteer cooks preparing 10 different soups, which were served to the public in lidded plastic bowls. Familiar flavors like chicken noodle and tomato bisque went quickly, said Pastor Steve Leppert.

“The chili with goat just kind of sat there until we took the word ‘goat’ off the sign,” Leppert said. “Then it went right away.”

The event, which served 90 bowls of soup garnished with crackers, was funded by a grant from the Alaska Community Foundation. The $10,000 grant will supply the church’s potluck events with utensils, food, coffee and other necessaries. The event was also supported by AC Value Center, Nichols’ Backdoor Store and other community partners. Saturday Soup events are tentatively planned to take place every other weekend, with the next event slated for Feb. 13.

Stephanie Bernard serves a bowl of Mexican meatball soup. (Jan. 30, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

“We’ve been having our potlucks at the church for 30-something years, and this is just an extension of that,” Leppert said.

The Jan. 30 event was the first held at the Salvation Army’s First Street venue since its refurbishment. The refurbishment, funded by a $7,500 Rasmuson Foundation grant, outfitted the facility with new electrical and plumbing components, new sanitation fixtures, a new heating system and new lighting. Along with a fresh coat of paint, the space should provide a cheerful venue for people to congregate and eat soup once social distancing requirements relax, Leppert said.

When warmer weather arrives, the Saturday Soup event may grow to include a hot dog bar, Leppert said.