Soupbox is, quite simply, soup lover’s heaven. I stopped by the Chicago Street location on Friday afternoon – located on the bustling corridor between Wabash and Michigan, right by the Chicago red line stop; it’s conveniently placed for anyone working in the Loop. With 12 different soups prepared fresh daily – among which about half are always vegetarian, a few are vegan, and one is gluten free – it’s the go-to spot for all your soup needs. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and more than willing to provide samples for those who found themselves struggling to decide among the many offerings. Though a few of the soups are served daily, the rest of the menu rotates through an array of different options, though you’re guaranteed to find at least one tomato, one potato, and one vegetable. I’m told they have between 70 and 80 soup recipes in the line-up, with new ones being developed all the time. I tasted one of the more recent creations, the Artichoke Bisque, which was rich Bisque with a wonderful, slightly nutty artichoke flavor, a perfect autumn offering. You can also choose a mixture of soups – the most popular blends are Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder, or Hearty Beef and Broccoli and Cheddar.
The chalkboard on the wall suggests a mix of the day – a today was Cuban Black Bean and Chicken Adobo. The interior was friendly and inviting, with lively music and a wall festooned with glowing reviews from local papers and letters from patrons that included praise like “You have restored my faith in humanity!!!” Although there was a constant stream of customers – many of who are clearly regulars – there never seemed to be an overwhelming crowd or a long wait.
I sampled half a dozen of the day’s offerings, and every single one was delicious. The Creamy Chicken With Wild Rice, one of their most popular items, was rich, flavorful, and perfectly balanced, the Cuban Black Bean was hearty and wonderfully spicy, and the Tomato Bisque was exactly what a Tomato Bisque should be – delicately tomato flavored and slightly creamy. I finally opted for a bowl of the Lobster Bisque, which was superb, a rich lobster broth with strong accents of white wine and shallots. All soups come with bottomless bread from the Highrise Baking Company, with the choice of either 9 Grain or Sourdough. I opted for the Sourdough, and it was fresh and chewy, a perfect accompaniment to the Bisque. They also sell day-old breads for just 99 cents – an enticing offer, given how tasty it was. Another nice touch was the spice rack, for those who want to add their own spin to the soups – rather than just the standard salt and pepper, there was an array of hot sauces as well as an impressive collection of herbs such as rosemary and cumin. While I appreciated the option, my soup was perfect on its own.
The soups are available in 3 forms – a 12 ounce regular, a 16 ounce large, or a bread bowl. Depending on the soup, the prices range between $5 and $7 – a great deal. I was so full of soup that I didn’t get a chance to sample the salads – but I look forward to doing so on my next visit – once winter settles in here, I’ll probably join the ranks of the regulars.