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Monday, January 18, 2010
Church wins fourth Soup-er Bowl

By Mary Buckheit
Page 2

Clark Church
Clark Church is officially The Soup King after winning his fourth straight Soup-er Bowl.

Soup-er Bowl!

While this weekend's NFL divisional playoffs inched us closer to Super Bowl XLIV, Aspen, Colo. ladled up a steaming bowl of hearty competition to get us in the mood.

The Soup-er Bowl goes down at Aspen's annual Wintersköl, which was founded in 1951 for the mountain town citizens to celebrate the finest features of their wonderland. The weekend featured frosty events like skating at the Aspen Ice Garden, the Hike for Hope race, Winterscuplt awards, skijoring (with dogs!) and a torchlight descent of Aspen Mountain.

But these barely hold a spoon to the main event, in which dozens of restaurants compete for a shot at the coveted copperpot in the Soupsköl showdown.

While talk of NFL dynasties are carelessly tossed around each season, the real Souper Bowl dynasty is chef Clark Church of Aspen's Garnish Café and Catering. Church has taken home the trophy every year since he entered four sköls ago. His famous Church Chowder garnered back-to-back-to-back titles and this weekend he took home his fourth copper pot with a brand-new soup. When we heard the news, we called him up to talk about the steamy streak and to get his winning recipe. Here's what he had to say.

Page 2: You're the Sultan of Soup. You won the last three Soupsköl championships with your now-famous Church's Chowder, but this year I hear you rolled out a new recipe.

Clark Church: Well, after back-to-back-to-back wins with the chowder, we thought we'd mix it up a little bit. We retired the chowder, and this year we won with Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Soup.

Ooh, sounds nice and light.

[Laughs] Not exactly. It is simple, though. Not too many spices -- just salt and pepper and a little cayenne -- but it's hearty. It's freezing cold out here, people want something that's gonna stick.

Chuck and Wife
Clark Church poses with his wife and son after winning his fourth Soup-er Bowl title.

What's in this prize-winning Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Soup?

Well, I grew up in Sister Bay, Wisc., which is about an hour and a half north of Green Bay. So start with Wisconsin sharp cheddar and Wisconsin's Johnsonville bratwurst.

Are you a cheeseheaded Packers fan?

No, actually. My dad's from Chicago. I'm a big Bears fan.

But you can't lose on a cold day with beer, cheese and potatoes. What sets you apart from all the others?

Well, for the beer, that's where the Colorado flavor comes in. I use Colorado beer because it's darker than Wisconsin's. In goes Fort Collins' own Fat Tire. Then you've got some heavy cream, milk, applewood smoked bacon, potatoes and peppers. The flavor sets us apart.

And maybe the croutons. Our famous honey cayenne croutons are the final touch. People rave about those things.

Give me a breakdown of your shopping list.

Well, I'm going to leave the exact cheese proportions as classified information.

For the amount of soup I made for the main event this weekend, I used 42 bottles of beer, five cases of Johnsonville brats, a case and a half of bacon, six gallons of heavy cream, six gallons of milk. It's a big production.... The most challenging part is getting it all hot and perfect on the day of. But after four years, I'm pretty dialed into the process.

Well, Clark Church, you just won the Soup-er Bowl. What are you going to do next?

Play with my son on my only day off and go back to work on Monday. Not quite as glamorous as winning the Super Bowl, huh?

Maybe we'll go to Disney World when he's old enough and after a few more wins on the soup streak, of course.

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