Football mom competes in annual souper bowl

Cook of the Week

  • Kim Lila's game plan includes simple, make-ahead meals built on fresh vegetables and meats.

      Kim Lila's game plan includes simple, make-ahead meals built on fresh vegetables and meats. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Kim Lila combines spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella into a hearty stuffing for chicken breasts.

      Kim Lila combines spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella into a hearty stuffing for chicken breasts. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 11/2/2010 2:37 PM

While their sons are running plays on the football field each week, Kim Lila and a friend are on the sidelines, passing a soup bowl back and forth in a competition of their own.

They don't wear uniforms; their only protective gear is a pair of oven mitts and their playbook calls for dicing and sauteing instead of passing and blocking, but Kim looks forward to the soup exchange almost as much as her sons anticipate the new season.

 

"It makes it more fun to cook," says Kim, a woman who already loved this culinary sport long before her sons took to the field.

This month marks the third season of the two-woman souper bowl, a loosely organized event with no set schedule, no rules and no-holds-barred recipes. Whenever their sons happen to have practice on the same day, there's potential for a handoff.

They plan the exchange ahead of time so the recipient can bring a cooler to the game for storage.

"She'll bring me a soup, I take it home, eat it, wash it out and fill it up with my soup," says Kim, who returns to the field with it a couple days later.

Spicy pumpkin squash soup might get traded for chicken noodle, chili for beef barley or crab bisque.

Kim has been in training for this event since she was in the minor leagues, learning how to cook from her mother and from TV shows.

"I started watching 'Cooking at the Academy' at 15," she says. "It was a culinary school on TV, and I watched Julia Child, too. I've been consumed by cooking channels ever since."

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Whether she's cooking for her family or entertaining friends from the Lake Villa Timberwolves Football Association, this working mom sticks to the same game plan: simple, make-ahead meals, built on fresh vegetables and meats, with a few prepared items for simplicity.

Her Potato-Bacon-Leek Soup is a good example of that strategy, and became part of the soup exchange. The basic, fresh ingredients simmer in prepared stock, white wine, heavy cream and skim milk.

We can tackle that this week, along with her Tuscan stuffed chicken and stuffed poblano peppers.

No special equipment or training required.

Laura Bianchi