WESTPORT — It’s almost time for residents and visitors of Westport to vote — for their favorite soup, that is. March marks Soup Month in Westport, with 19 venues in town participating for the right to have their respective soups voted as the best.

Sponsored by the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce and Berchem Moses PC, Soup Month features The Great Westport Soup Contest.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe proclaimed March as Soup Month at the opening day of the monthlong event at a ceremony at Mystic Market Kitchen & Eatery on Monday afternoon.

Soup Month is a latest in a series of food months in Westport. Pizza was the theme last year, and hamburgers was the food of choice in 2018.

“This event helps drive business to our restaurants,” Marpe said. “It is a great opportunity to get residents and visitors to try our restaurants and get some nourishing food. Each year we’ve had it, they have all been great. Soup is one of those foods that all societies have in common.”

Mystic Market, Rye Ridge Deli Westport, Joe’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, Gold’s Delicattessen and Match Burger Lobster are just several of the venues involved in Soup Month.

According to Matthew Mandell, executive director and president of the Chamber, each participating Westport eatery enters seven different soup categories: beef, vegetable, Asian, chicken, matzo ball, onion and chowder.

“There will be seven different winners, and everyone who votes is entered into a lottery to win soup from the winner,” said Mandell, who came up with this year’s soup theme. “So if you vote for chicken soup, you are in competition to win chicken soup from the winner.”

To vote for which venue has the best soup in a certain category, visit westportwestonchamber.com/soup.

“It’s a friendly competition, and they are all working together to promote the business aspect of the town,” Mandell said. “The goal is to have people come to the different places, buy the soup, check it out and then vote for who makes the best soup. Since we started, we had over 3,500 people vote the last two years and we hope to get another 1,000 to 1,500 voters this year.”

As for Mandell’s favorite soup? “My wife’s matzo ball soup, I’ll be seeing which place in town makes it the best.”

For Westport resident Nancy Axthelm, Mystic Market is her go-to stop for soup.

“I’m here almost every day for soup,” Axthelm said. “I love the veggie combos and they have a Rhode Island clam chowder and carrot ginger soup that are delicious.”

On Monday, Mystic Market displayed three tasty soup samplers — smoky beef chili, carrot ginger and gluten free vegan spicy chicken vegetable.

“I’m going to vote. I think the chef here at Mystic Market is amazing,” Axthelm said.

Ashley Boucaud, the executive chef at Mystic Market, especially enjoys preparing soup each day.

“Our soups are very popular. We prepare six fresh soups every day and we sell out of at least two each day,” Boucaud said. “For the month of March, we are going to feature beef, chicken, vegetable and chowder soups on Fridays and a different variety every day. Customers can come in and sample the soups. I love to cook soup, it’s very comforting.”

Charles Spathakis, the owner of Mystic Market, said, “Soup is one of the highlights of our business. I think a month like this brings people together. Friendly competition is always fun.”

dfierro@greenwichtime.com