BRADENTON -- The soup Dorothy Weaver enjoyed Friday at the 13th annual "Empty Bowls" luncheon was truly a mouthful.
Try saying smoked duck, butternut squash and gnocchi.
"Nee-yok-ee," server Natalie Norton said, giving the proper pronunciation for the thick, soft dumplings in the spinach-topped soup made by Renaissance on 9th. "Perfect for a cold night in New England."
It worked for Weaver.
"It's a little different than what I normally have -- tomato soups, chili and vegetable soups," she said. "But this was interesting and has a really wonderful flavor. It's delicious."
Which could also be said about the 18 varieties of soup awaiting Friday's hungry donors, who paid $25 a bowl at Renaissance on 9th to benefit the Food Bank of Manatee. Main Street at Lakewood Ranch will host the "Empty Bowls" luncheon 11 a.m. Saturday.
"It's pretty good," Josh McCoy said in between spoonfuls of seafood gumbo from the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.
"Best in the world," said Paree Garner of Popi IV's lemon chicken soup.
"We tried three different lobster soups, but this was the best," said Carol Heinze of Mar Vista's lobster bisque.
Event officials estimate Friday's attendance at about 500 and anticipate surpassing it Saturday in Lakewood Ranch.
"We had a line outside when we started at 11 a.m.," said Cindy Sloan, the Food Bank director. "The turnout was excellent."
Business was so good half the participating restaurants ran out of soup by noon.
Not to worry, Jill McGarry said.
"We'll have plenty of more ready for Saturday," the Meals on Wheels PLUS marketing director said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix