A soup kitchen is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a reasonably low price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteers from church and community groups. Soup kitchens sometimes obtain food from a food bank or at a low price, because they are considered a charity.
The concept of soup kitchens hit the mainstream of United States consciousness during the Great Depression. One soup kitchen in Chicago was even sponsored by the American mobster Al Capone in an effort to clean up his image. Inventor, Benjamin Thompson, contemporary to the Founding Fathers of the United States, is said to have invented the soup kitchen.
Here is a sampling of some latter-day soup kitchens that are highly recommended for hungry travellers, ne’er-do-wells, and folks everywhere looking for a change.
In New Zealand
1. Delite Soup & Juice Bar
37 Chancery St, Auckland Central Auckland City, (09) 309 3006 Mon-Fri 8:30am-4:30pm
Check out the daily specials of winter favourites including pumpkin, kumara and carrot, chicken and vegetable, leek and potato or broccoli soups for $5.50 or $6.50 a heart-warming cup.
33 Lorne St Ph (09) 303 0429 or 16 Fort St Ph (09) 307 1586 Mon-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-3pm
With daily menu specials, gluten-free and vegan options and membership discounts, both Revives draw the crowds. Check out the Thai pumpkin, Indian lentil or carrot and coriander (all with salad and bun. $11.90 in/$10.90 out).
3. Vinyl Coffee Shop
218 Dominion Road, Mt Eden. Ph (09) 623 3821 Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm
A groovy location. Vegan and dairy-free specialities include roast pumpkin, ginger, coriander and coconut soup (the dairy version has cream) or red lentil vegetable soup. Meat-eaters love the minestrone or chicken sweetcorn. Soup to eat in or take out, with toasted ciabatta $9.50.
4. KK Malaysian Restaurant
463A Manukau Rd, Epsom, Auckland.
Mamak-style laksa with just the right spices and coconut creaminess and just the right tastes of home means homesick Malaysians make a bee-line for this comfort soup.
Betty’s Soup Kitchen
84 Oxford Street
(02) 9360 9698
Good simple food and hilarious staff. I thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant with its quirky decor of pastel walls with odd-ball furniture, and delicious hearty broths and pastas. The salad bar compliments the main dishes nicely and the staff all ooze charisma and whacky charm. For $16 per person this is surely one of the best places to grab a bite in Sydney.
Betty (on the left)
Moroccan Soup Bar
(03) 9482 4240
183 St Georges Rd
Fitzroy North, 3068
Delicious vegetarian food and a great atmosphere. Doesn’t take bookings, so you may have to wait a while for a table. Fortunately there are plenty of places nearby where you can have a drink while you wait.
Her Soup Kitchen
625 S Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA 52240
Came in here one Sunday night with a couple of friends, a half hour before closing. They serve breakfast all day, but we opted to go for the lunch menu. This was by far the best chicken salad sandwich I’d had in I can’t remember ho long. The bread was fresh and perfectly toasted and chicken itself had a great smokey flavor. An awesome twist was the use of a pesto spread on the bread in place of mustard or mayonaise. It was accompanied by a salad with incredibly fresh cherry tomatoes tossed in with it. I had order the iced tea along with my meal which was fresh brewed and very crisp, but the winner was the fact that they serve cucumber water to you at the table. It really is all about the little things, and this one subtle quality of the restaurant was almost enough in and of itself to sell us on it.
On a side note, the layout is very small so be sure to get in there before it fills up. The owner is there working behind the counter and serves you the food herself. Very personable and friendly.
Annie’s Soup Kitchen
Cuisines: Californian, American, Mexican
3107 Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111
I’ve only been to Annie’s twice, but both times it proved to be a gastronomic delight. Make sure to get there before 11 am as this is a breakfasting place. If you’re having soup, you can’t go past their cream of spinach.
The Soup Kitchen
47 E. Tennessee Avenue
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Several writers and musos I know have frequented this joint over the years and by all reports it’s a goer. What they rave about is the variety of soups and great sandwiches. The building seems to have been a house, and has a lot of charm, and the soups come with your choice of fresh baked bread. The mexican cornbread is reportedly awesome. At any rate, a bowl of soup and a slab of bread is enough to fill you up. They also have sandwiches and awesome desserts.
Parking is limited so get there early. It’s a must if you are ever in Oak Ridge.