If you’ve ever returned from a booze run on the downtown path that loosely follows the Jackson Creek, you may have noticed a mouth-watering aroma wafting into your nostrils as you approached Charlotte St. “Whence this heavenly scent?” you most likely wondered to yourself. The answer: Soupçon.
This cozy little soup kitchen is made to feel even more so by its pale yellow walls and dark brown furniture. Both eat-in and takeout dining options are available, but seating accommodates less than 20 people, so if you don’t show up at the right time you may have to stand. You may also not be able to order something you otherwise would have, as quantities are limited. Hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At Soupçon, most every soup is the soup of the day. The head chef’s personal fancy determines what comprises the menu’s six or so options, and it’d be unlikely to see any one creation on the menu for longer than three days. You can check out the day’s choices outside, or walk in and have one of the more than courteous wait staff fill you in.
Soups come in three sizes: 12oz ($4.80), 20oz ($6.27), and 32oz ($10.74). There is a daily salad on the menu too and both are served with your choice of sourdough baguette or beer bread, a wonderful buttery loaf of pure goodness. A fair selection of sandwiches is also available for $7 each; to a lesser degree than the soups, these also vary.
Besides the sandwich buns, everything served here is made in-house. The other breads are made by hand, without even the use of a mixer. The soups are MSG and flour-free, and few of them have gluten.
For my primary dish, I tried the soup & sandwich combo consisting of (respectively) Israeli couscous with mint and chicken tandoori with apple yogurt. The latter sounded too unusual to pass up, and the soup was recommended as the most complimentary to the sandwich, so despite a slight aversion to the culinary use of mint, I went for it.
The soup, which also featured a medley of carrots, tomatoes and onions, was a success. I often find mint offensively overpowering in most dishes, but here it managed to be the primary flavour without dominating the entire thing. For a person who only really likes mint in chocolate, this is saying a lot.
The sandwich was completely out of left field, both in that I didn’t expect anything besides soups and that it was quite phenomenal. Served on a sizable focaccia bun, actual apples slices were packed in along with the more commonplace combination of yogurt and tandoori chicken (of which there was a generous amount). Once again I’m salivating at the recollection of this item. If you visit Soupçon and this is still on the menu, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Before my excursion’s end, I sampled another three soups: cream of corn (with cheese), green Thai chicken noodle, and cream of mushroom. The first was surprisingly un-bland; a hearty union of savoury and sweet is topped with shredded (sadly yellow) cheddar which is especially nice if left to soften.
Made with a green curry paste and coconut milk, the Thai chicken noodle is a flavourful concoction which ought to satisfy any fan of spicy food; I had to get a second glass of water for this one. The cream of mushroom had a distinctive taste, but was definitely my least favourite. I am admittedly not a fan of mushrooms, however, so you might want to ask for a taste if you are.
The only negative aspect of this dining experience was the regret I felt afterwards about it having been my first time eating here despite having lived in this city for three and a half years. If you have been tempted by the smells of Soupçon before but something kept you from walking in, let it keep you no longer. I promise that you will not regret the decision.