A cold, snowy day calls for comfort food and guests at the 15th annual Soup for the Soul found plenty. The more than 800 attendees – a record number for the event – dined on a decadent array of delicious warm soups. Ladle after ladle brought something different and divine, from thick broccoli cheddar by Panera Bread to hearty beef and bison red chili by 15|Fifty at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel to Cantonese Medicine Broth by The Squeaky Bean to Foraged Mushroom bisque with a black winter truffle creama by Barolo Grill. Every restaurant offered an accompanying appetizer such as Moroccan stuffed mussels by Fuel Café or peanut jalepeno bacon crisps by Dazzle Jazz Restaurant and Lounge to short rib, mashed potatoes and crispy onions by LoHi Steakbar. There’s no quota to the number of helpings. For many, it’s a staple gathering.

“We have people saying, ‘I will never miss this event.’ It’s fun, special,” shared Centura Health and Home Senior Vice President, Clinical Transformation Erin Denholm.  Along with a league of restaurants, 45 corporations step up to support the cause and 60 volunteers come out to help make the evening a smooth success. In terms of planning, 30 people devote nine months to putting all the pieces in place. A big shout out was given to Chris Agnew, Jeannie Bennington and Holly Stabler who have been faithfully involved since day one.

This year funds raised will support The Butterfly Program, which was also celebrating its 15th year of service. The Butterfly Program, sponsored by Porter Hospice and Children’s Hospital Colorado, fills an important and relatively empty niche in the Denver metropolitan community. This nationally recognized program serves families with children who have been diagnosed with a serious illness. The Butterfly Program offers pediatric palliative and comfort care, either at home or in the hospital.

The Soup for the Soul Award of Courage began 10 years ago to recognize strength in the face of adversity. This year’s award honored The Davis Family who have handled themselves with grace and dignity while also inspiring others along the way. In 2013, Claire Davis, a senior at Arapahoe High School was shot by a fellow student. Although her family suffered an incredible loss, they have chosen to love in Claire’s legacy as Claire did by reaching out to the shooter that day. They live out their motto: “Kindness and love can chance the world.”

“Our lives have purpose,” shared Claire’s mother Desiree Davis, as she accepted the award. “We are here to feed the souls of one another. We can choose to do that with love or ignore the needs of others. We all can make a difference for others if we choose to give compassionate support, forgiveness and love.”

Before dining, guests are encouraged to go shopping. The event showcased more than 200 auction items, featuring original artwork, sports and spa options, and intriguing travel.

“I can’t decide,” gleefully shared one guest as she paused to ponder where to put her bid. “There are so many great choices.”

A jovial Solitaire crew once again came to the party with a mouthwatering signature hors d’oeuvre: cherry smoked sturgeon on potato bilini with horseradish, shaved beets and Tobico caviar. More delicious Solitaire creations can be found in late March when the restaurant will open its doors in the Highlands. In addition, SmithandTruslow.com gave each guest with an original spice blend, sea salt or organic spice.

Soup is simply special. It’s what we give to others when they are sick to help them feel better. It’s what warms us when we are feeling low. And, in this case, it’s what unites a community for a very worthwhile cause. As Louis P. DeGoy wrote: Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, it’s wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers. Next year, put away your can of Campbell’s and taste the delights of Denver’s soup-spectacular restaurants. You will leave feeling warming fed.