Monday, October 23, 2017

Zoup! Food Review

Italian Wedding with Turkey Meatballs (& Italian Herb Boule)

Mention soup, and I immediately think of comfort. As in late lunches at the Bread & Chocolate in Old Town Alexandria, where I'd sneak away from work for a (bread) bowl of tomato soup and a few minutes of peace & quiet. To be honest, I hadn't thought about it in years; so when I heard about seasoned boules (available for a limited time) at Zoup!, I got excited. Paired with the fact that this would be my first visit to the national soup chain, I couldn't wait to try them.

The concept is simple. Pick a soup, then pair it with a boule (French for ball, as in the shape of the bread, resembling a squashed ball.) Available year-round, sourdough; but now through November 12, you can also choose between Italian Herb, Olive Oil & Sea Salt and Parmesan Garlic. The first two are vegan-friendly, which is a nice touch. I stopped by their only DC location (1101 Vermont Avenue, NW, at the corner of L Street) for a 2:00 lunch Friday, thankfully after the busy lunch rush. The restaurant is L shaped (pun intended) and clean/comfortable. Temperature was a cool 70° with a classic mix of 80s hits (Chicago, Billy Idol and Janet Jackson.) There's plenty of seating available, but I chose a nice (quiet) spot in the back, on the L Street side. Like most places, you order at the front, pay for it, and they deliver it to your table. In my case, that meant three different soups, and three different boules. Welcome to the life of a food critic.

Chicken Potpie with Olive Oil & Sea Salt Boule

Zoup! offers a dozen soups daily. Best of all, they rotate the lineup, so you're more inclined to try something new on each visit. Normally, I'd go for traditional Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle or Tomato Basil, but neither was available on Friday. That led to my trying Chicken Potpie, a super creamy version with carrots, corn, peas & potatoes, and thick chunks of chicken with ultra fine crumbles of pie crust on top (to emulate the chicken pot pies we all grew up with.) It was paired with an Olive Oil & Sea Salt Boule. Not sure about the oil (any flavor was faint) but it was generously dotted in tasty sea salt, which I confess to eating more of than the soup on this occasion. The crumbles take some getting used to... after all, it's hard to replicate a pie without making a pie. But the soup itself was delectable. Expect tons of veggies and (most importantly) chicken, surrounded by a rich broth.

Ginger Butternut Squash with Sourdough Boule

Next up, my favorite of the day... Italian Wedding with Turkey Meatballs, tucked inside a flavorful Italian Herb Boule. If you like flavor, look no further (both the bread and soup.) The bread was covered in zesty Italian herbs and the soup... chicken stock with lots of carrots, scrumptious/tender turkey meatballs and tiny pearls of pasta. I finished all the soup in no time flat, and almost half the bread. Turkey meatballs are an ingenious add; and (as with all three soups) it was nice & hot. If I had a list, I'd place it in the top-3. Come to think of it, it's about time I added soup to our Top 5, don't you think?

Last but certainly not least, Ginger Butternut Squash, which I ordered in their "standard issue" sourdough boule. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing standard about the bread, but I chose it over Parmesan Garlic, because you should try the most popular items on your first visit, and four bread boules was out of the question, even for a hungry guy like myself. The soup was simple but layered with flavor. Most prominent? Ginger, which packed a glorious punch amidst the combo of butternut squash and carrots. It was hot and thick, but be warned... if you don't care for ginger, you may want to choose something else. It's that strong. That said, I love ginger, so I was in Seventh Heaven.

Zoup! also serves salads and sandwiches (Maple Ham & Bacon sounds very interesting) but you come for the soup, and (overwhelming) odds are, you won't leave disappointed. Prices are downright cheap, given the generous portions... Side $5.20, Cup $6.50, Bowl $7.75 and Bread Boule $7.95, plus you can get a TryTwo! Combo, which includes half a sandwich and a side of soup (or salad, if that's your thing) for less than a tenner. Sounds good to me.