Recipe contest highlights soup-er cooks

Baba’s Best Matzah Ball Soup

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Four generations of cooks from the same family were named the winners of the 4th Annual St. Louis Jewish Light Cooking Contest, sponsored by Schnucks.

The four: 90-year-old Sherry Kaplan of University City; her daughter, Helene Spetner of Olivette; Spetner’s daughter (and Kaplan’s granddaughter) Amy Doughty, also of Olivette, and Doughty’s 5-year-old daughter, Lilly, sported matching aprons and huge smiles as the judges, after a blind tasting, declared theirs, Baba’s Best Matzah Ball Soup, the winning chicken soup recipe.

“It’s the real deal, and it’s beyond delicious,” said Margi Lenga Kahn, who judged the contest, along with Byron Kerman of Sauce magazine and Priscilla Ward, food scientist and manager of Schnucks Test Kitchen, where the judging was held Sunday.

Nine semi-finalists, culled from 16 entries, competed in the hopes their chicken soup recipe would be named the winner. Runner-up was Michelle Keesal’s Easy Roast Chicken and Lemon Soup, which boasted scrumptious Asian overtones.

The winning recipe actually belonged to Kaplan’s mother who was from Poland; Kaplan brought it to the United States with her, along with the pot that her mother cooked the soup in. “Who would have thought that this many years later, my mother’s soup would win a contest?” Kaplan remarked.

Doughty explained that she has so much faith in the “deliciousness” of the soup, that she recently started the website,, where quarts of the soup, for delivery or pick up, will be sold. Doughty said advanced orders can be placed online. The soup will sell for $20 for four servings.

Previous Light cooking contests featured kugel, Passover desserts and brisket. The recipes from this year’s semi-finalists can be viewed at