A friend and I were headed to Ikea (glassware for her, drapes for me) and decided to forego our usual Swedish meatballs in favor of Soup du Jour’s extensive soup menu. We arrived a little early for lunch, but were glad we did; the restaurant quickly filled to capacity with patrons enjoying Chef Michael Marks’ daily-made concoctions.
When I saw that we could get flights of soup, my heart soared. Flights of soup! I could try a lot of soup all at once! The soup flights at Soup du Jour are much like wine flights — 3 ounces of any soup of your choosing for $1.40 each. If you’re not in the mood for flights, you can choose a 12-ounce bowl ($4.85) or an 8-ounce cup ($3.55). Soup du Jour doesn’t only offer 18-plus soups per day (find out what will be available by checking www.soupjones.com before you go); they also have salads, sandwiches, desserts and, from 9-10:30 a.m., breakfast. My friend and I chose three flights each and split a salad and sandwich combo meal ($12.95).
I was intrigued by the description of the house salad ($6.85 a la carte), in that it contained cashew brittle.
What an ingenious addition to field greens, dried cranberries, pears, gorgonzola and raspberry vinaigrette. Someone had a heavy hand with the cranberries but, otherwise, the salad was perfect. For the sandwich ($5.85 a la carte), we chose grilled vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, onions) with mozzarella cheese on a ciabatta roll. All of the food at Soup du Jour — the soup, the bread, the desserts — are made on the premises and the ciabatta was excellent. The sandwich was finished with a walnut pesto that could have used a bit more salt but it was still very flavorful and satisfying.
The soups, however, are what will bring me back again and again to Soup du Jour. They make me wish I had this restaurant in my neighborhood. I decided to try a flight trio: butternut squash and Fuji apple; spicy tomato and sausage; and crab bisque. The squash soup was lovely, with just the right amount of apple — not enough to outshine the squash but enough sweetness to balance it. I ended up loving the tomato and sausage soup more than I thought I would. It was quite spicy but not overwhelmingly so and I could clearly taste the tomato. I love good crab bisque and Soup du Jour’s is better than good. My only complaint was that I found two pieces of shell in my soup, though I know how tedious it can be to pick through crab meat.
My friend had the curried carrot, mushroom and bread, and Italian chicken and vegetable soups. The carrot soup was a delightful surprise, full of curry but not so much that it drowned the carrot. I don’t usually like mushrooms but the mushroom and bread soup was rather delightful, bready, hearty and filling. The only disappointment (and it was a small one) was the Italian chicken and vegetable soup. It was a little too oily but really fresh and bright otherwise.
The soups come with a choice of beer bread, which was quite nice, and corn bread, which was sweet and delicious. We also tried the brownie ($1.99) and a chocolate chip cookie ($1.00) for dessert and I was just blown away by the fact that Chef Mike and his staff can make from scratch, such a variety of consistently good food.
I’ll be back. I’m sure I’ll need something from Ikea. Soon.
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