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Soup Sega still providing warm comfort after 15 years 

"One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and it came to me: soup!"

For an idea that came to Patricia French in the middle of the night, Soup Sega has been quite a success.

French, a longtime member of West Homestead's Bulgarian-Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center, had been looking for ways to raise money for the organization. "My husband died 25 years ago, but he always ate two bowls of soup each day," she recalls. "And he never ate canned soup — I made it all. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and it came to me: soup! I swear I could hear his voice."

She took the idea of the Sega (a Bulgarian word meaning "now") to the BMNECC board. "All of the men laughed at me," she says. But after the weekly sale made $10,000 in its first year, 1999, "They stopped laughing."

The Sega has returned every year since, with a menu that's expanded to include specialties like stuffed peppers and strudels. It's all overseen by BMNECC board member Angel Roy, who's been in charge of cooking for Soup Sega for most of its run.

Soup — some frozen, some fresh-cooked — is sold at the Center Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, from September through May. Quarts and half-quarts of the low-salt, low-fat soups are available, and include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

"We make sure they're healthy," French says. "I think that's one reason it's been so successful."

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