No soup for who?

Several months ago when the last winter was finally winding down I would walk around the underground walkway of the financial district during lunch and see everyone carrying these bags with a mischievous looking cartoon chef on it, the Soup Nutsy.   Even in the cold weather, I never really was motivated to try the place because, like Seinfeld’s Kenny Bania, I believed soup wasn’t a meal.  I had always come to think of soup as an appetizer, a side dish, something you eat when you can’t stomach real solid food.  Then, on a not so special day in July, I decided to give Soup Nusty a whirl and after my first experience my whole perspective on soup had changed.

The shop is located in the TD building almost in the dead center of the RBC food court, Commerce court, First Canadian place, and the good burrito place in the TD food court.  The shop itself is tucked away amongst the retail shops which makes it tough to find, that is if you miss the ridiculously long line of people waiting for soup.

IMAG0115In the summer, the lineup wasn’t too bad but now that the weather is getting a little chilly I walk up and find myself at the back of a long line that exits the little shop, wraps along the wall, around a staircase, past some ATM machines and around another corner with at least 50 people in front of me.  I’m always a little afraid they will run out of soup but I know now that even if they run out of one type, I’m sure they’ll have another one in stock that will satisfy my soup craving.  Now before I go into describing the soups I’ve tasted to date, let me start off by saying a few general things so I don’t repeat myself over and over.  (1) All the soups are hearty and have a ton of stuff in them, (2) all of them have beautifully spiced or have rich and creamy broths, and (3) in most cases, each flavor is the best version of that soup I have ever had in my life (i.e. the chicken noodle is the best chicken noodle I’ve ever had or the corn chowder is the best I’ve ever had etc.).

The first soup I tried was the Moroccan Madness Vegetable Medley.  There were 9 kinds of vegetable (pretty much any kind that would seem appropriate in a soup and some that you wouldn’t think would go into a soup but go surprisingly well).  The veggies were soft and soaked up the broth but weren’t mushy like a lot of vegetable that have been simmering for a long time.  The broth was outstanding.  It was spiked with Moroccan spices that gave it a lot of kick.  At the end of the meal my mouth was left with a slight stinging sensation, but the good and satisfying kind.

For the second bowl I decided to go with something more popular, or something I’ve had a lot of experience eating.  Next of the list was the Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle.  This place definitely doesn’t skimp on the chunks of chicken and there are two types of noodles, fussili and broad noodles.  The broth had a nice consistency to it, it wasn’t a viscous as water but not as thick as a cream soup.  Maybe some of the starch from the broccoli and carrots flowed into the soup.  That’s right, broccoli and carrots in a chicken noodle soup.  Unexpected…yes.  Delicious…yes!

IMAG0127The Tex Mex Turkey-Beef Chili was next.  Compared to other chilies I’ve had, this was just as comforting but in all honesty, this was one of the only soups that disappointed me.  There were a ton of peppers and the potatoes in it were a pleasant surprise.  It was beefy which, mixed with turkey, was pretty interesting.  It has some kick but was not overpowering.  I think I would have preferred more spice but it was a comforting bowl none the less.

Round 4: West African Senegalese Peanut Chicken.  This soup had a very strong nutty flavor.  It was almost overpowering until you get a few bites in and can taste the array of peppers, tomatoes and the very spicy kick.  It must have been the piquant chili peppers that left a tingling sensation in my mouth.  I think all the people on my desk were wondering what I was eating since you could smell the nuts from pretty far away but they could see me perspiring from the spice.

The Aztec Chicken Chipotle Chowder was the fifth stamp of my frequent eater card.  The broth was smooth and creamy with a slight yellow tinge to it.  There was a LOT of corn and huge chunks of potatoes.  The red peppers, green peppers, jalepenos, onions and green herbs gave it a little more color.  There was a definite hint of Tex Mex spice.  Mmmm, Aztec spices are golden.

The first bite of the Caribbean Chicken Vegetable Rice soup had its mix of Caribean spices but there was a hint of sweetness.  I was a little confused since all I could see were an array of peppers.  Then I saw them, orange cubes…is that…sweet potato!? Yes it was.  The soup base was well spiced, not too hot, but again leaving a tingling sensation in my mouth.  There was plenty of rice to soak up some of the soup base but not enough that it took over the dish.  It is soup after all.  Rice bowls are also on the menu but this soup in a rice bowl would be rice overkill.

IMAG0097For the cajun chicken gumbo I figure I only have to list the ingredients for people to understand the awesomeness of this velvety bowl of soup.  Old bay, cayenne pepper, creole cajun spice mix, chicken, tomato, rice, okra, sausage, red peppers, green peppers and jalapeno.  It’s as amazing as it sounds.

I love Thai food so seeing it in soup form got me a little excited.  The Fiery Thai Chicken and Coconut lives up to its name.  It is wicked spicy while still having a somewhat creamy broth.  Before diving in you even see a layer of chili oil on the top.  It also had mushrooms, tomatoes, rice and big juicy chunks of chicken.  There was a hint of coconut like the name suggest but there was also a very faint taste of nuts.  Very Thai.  Very good!  Gulping down the last few bites was like taking a shot of fire.

IMAG0098Mushroom soup has always been one of my comfort foods.  When I saw they had a Cream of Shiitake Mushroom soup, I had to try it.  Shiitake mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables.  The broth was super thick and creamy.  There must have been four kind of mushrooms in it varying in size, texture and taste.  Best mushroom soup ever!  It was also after taking this picture that I realized that soup doesn’t photograph very well.  So take my word when I say this soup is awesome!

IMAG0111The final stamp on my frequent eater card (10 and you get one free) was the Jamaican Crab Bisque.  The broth was velvety and creamy but there was a kick from the exotic mix of spices.  I generally never associated creamy with spicy but these soups have proven me wrong.  Mixed about were minced pieces of celery and large (relatively speaking) chunks of black pepper.  The crab meat was plentiful, soft, tender and tasty.  Some of the crab pieces were solid and juicy while others were a little flakier and melted in our mouth.  There was small hint of that seafood smell but it was overpowered by the richness of the bisque and the kick of the spices.

IMAG0116Today I decided to try the Lobster Bisque.  On the whole it was very good.  Smooth, creamy and rich broth.  The lobster wasn’t as generous as I have found with ingredients in there other soups but they make up for it was other vegetables like potatoes.  There is supposed to be wine or sherry in it or something but I couldn’t really taste it.  Maybe I was just off my soup game today.

IMAG0132

In addition to the soup, the place offers combos were you get a bowl of soup and two of the following: apple, banana, small packet of celery and carrots, a variety of rolls, or an ENORMOUS slice of bread.  The slices are massive.  You can pretty much soak up a whole bowl with one slice.  I usually opt for the sandwich combo.  The grilled chicken sandwich has a honey mustard glaze which is delightful.  I also like the Salami and Mozzarella but that just may be spill over from my Italian cravings after working my way through the entire series of the Sopranos. The sandwiches are like any over the counter sandwich from a coffee shop, maybe a little better and fresher, but it completes the meal.  Let’s be clear here though, the sandwich is a side to the soup.

As the winter is fast approaching, I know I will find myself at this soup stand at least once a week to indulge in some old favorites and also try out the new mixtures the Soup Nutsy is concocting. Soup Nutsy, you truly are the purveyor of world gourmet soups.  Oh, and the people who run the place are much more reasonable than the guy in the Seinfeld episode, although the one older women is a little scary. NEXT!

http://www.soupnutsy.ca/

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~ by jlowjlow on October 7, 2009.

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