Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fun Playing with Soup!

I think that a well done soup is the ultimate comfort food - especially in the dark coldness of winter. Over the years, I've gone from the famous red and white label cans that Mom would make, "progressed" to non-condensed cans, and tried Tabatchnick's, which comes frozen and is made with all natural ingredients. When I get sick and crave chicken soup, I've always searched throughout the town I live in to find great chicken soup. Still, no soup is as good as homemade - and at the risk of showing a little ego here - no one's chicken soup is as good as mine! Still - true soup chickens are hard to come by, and sometimes, one just wants a great bowl of soup without the time and work of cooking it. But where to go? And what about other varieties of soup?

Cleveland is blessed with a number of restaurants that make excellent soup. And we have a Chinatown that can dish up awesome soups 24/7. But what about take-out in the suburbs that is reasonably priced and always ready to go? There is a chain that is relatively new in Cleveland, Zoup, that claims it "makes all of its own soups using the highest quality, all-natural meats and vegetables, and the most appropriate (even if they are most labor-intensive) techniques . . . . " I've tasted Zoup's products twice, and while there was "nothing not to like" - there was nothing to bring me back - there was no question that the soups were commercially prepared (as they must be, for this concept to work) and tasted commercial to me.

Enter a new business that opened right in my home town of Solon Ohio: The Soup Pot. The Soup Pot serves 10 varieties of made-from-scratch soup every day, in addition to a small selection of salads and breads. Breakfast was in the original plan, but was apparently not well patronized, which is a shame because I for one would love to see how they prepare kasha for breakfast!

So yesterday was a very strange day - started in such a great mood, then slipped on the sheet of ice that was the bank's parking lot before I could even get out of my car at about 8:15am and wound up sitting on the ice for a while before someone helped me up (it was too slick for my boots to get a grip). Now sore and cranky, I left the office early and hungry, craving comfort and sustenance. It was about 3:30pm when I wandered into The Soup P0t, not at all sure what to expect.

This small store is cleanly scrubbed and bright. But the first element to engage my senses was the amazing smell of soup cooking - not from a mix, or a freezer bag - but from bones and flesh. The smell assured me this was the real deal.

I struck up a conversation with the owner's mom, who's name I didn't get. A pleasant lady with a Russian accent, she encouraged me to taste the soups, and I sampled three of them. Since I couldn't decide, I wound up bringing home 2 8oz containers. I passed on the crackers, and the server apologized that they had run out of bread, which would normally come with the soup.

My husband agreed that these soups were fantastic - the flavors leaped out of the bowl mixed with intoxicating fumes - this is the kind of soup I have craved! Loaded with genuine mouthfeel from real ingredients - it helped to pull my lousy day out of the gutter.

Turkish Meatball Soup

This wonderful soup was accented with a little lemon and wonderfully fresh and tasty meatballs. You could even tell that the carrots were processed in-house and were not from a bag of shreds.

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Not what I'd normally expect from a soup of this name - a very soup-like consistency (chicken broth, according to my server) packed with flavor and just a hint of the cheese. Yum.

The third variety that I tasted at the store was Chicken Paprikash. It was loaded with shreds of fresh chicken and quite tasty.

Now that I've found the family-owned-and-operated Soup Pot (in my own back yard to boot) - I'll be back! They are open 7 days a week and are located in the Solar Shopping Center, a few doors down from Giant Eagle. This independent provider of lip smacking comestibles deserves the support of anyone in the Greater Cleveland Area who loves great soup! Because as much fun as it is to make soup from scratch - The Soup Pot lets me play with great soup without having to cook it!

1 comment:

  1. Ouch.... the fall, not the soup!

    The cheddar corn chowder looks amesome!