Despite Unsavory Weather, Over 800 Attend Habitat for Humanity’s Cooking to Build Event

Photos submitted by Lee Rennick

This year’s Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity Cooking to Build, held on November 5, was one for the books. As soon as everyone got all set up, the rain came. Cold and torrential. But that didn’t stop the community from coming to support the building of affordable housing in the county. More than 800 came in spite of the weather, helping to raise more than $30,000.

 “The food was fantastic,” said one participant. “Chilis and soups on a cool day was perfect. We had a great time and look forward to next year. The bowls were really cool, also!”

For 15 years people have been painting bowls and enjoying the cooking efforts of local businesses and organizations who make and serve the soups and chilis. There was everything from hot and sweet Georgia chili to thick and creamy potato soup to vegan chili to tortilla soup.

Not only do those coming out get to taste great soups, but it is also a community competition. Those tasting the soups get to vote on which is their favorite. This year’s Golden Bowl winner was Oakland Archery’s creamy tomato soup, with Hammer Down for Habitat coming in second, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s Sweet Georgia Chili winning third place, Lisa Duke Crowell, County Clerk, in fourth with her Buffalo Chicken Chili, and Gateway Title taking fifth place. Of course, Habitat considers all of the food teams as winners because it is thanks to their culinary creations that this event is a success.

While many keep their recipes a secret, Richard and Stephanie Luneack shared their recipe for the Zuppa Toscana Soup they served at the Hammer Down for Habitat tent. It is perfect for the recent, and coming, cold days and nights.

 Zuppa Toscana Soup


1lb ground Italian sausage

1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

4tb bacon bits

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 large onion diced

8 c water

2 cans chicken broth

5 chicken bouillon cubes

1.5 lbs sliced potatoes

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 bunch kale


Sauté sausage and pepper flakes in a large pot. Drain fat. Remove sausage from pot and place in the fridge. Using the same pot add onion, bacon bits and garlic and sauté for approximately 10 minutes. Add bouillon, broth and water and bring to boil. Add potatoes to boiling pot and cook until soft. Turn down heat to simmer and add cream. Once heated add sausage. Add kale just before serving. Fresh mozzarella cheese can be sprinkled on top of the soup when served.

The bowls are possible thanks to Pottery Place in The Avenue Murfreesboro. They have become a collector’s item for many in the community who come back year after year. It is something about them being just the perfect size and shape for soup, plus all the great community painters.

Atmos Energy was the title sponsor of the event. “We are very blessed to have them,” said Habitat Executive Director Terri Schultz, “and we thank everyone who came to support our mission to build affordable housing. Thank you all.”