East Bay Bite of the Week: Soup at SOOP
Unless you've been deadbolted inside your apartment eating non-perishables with rubber gloves for the last month, it's likely you're either on your way up to or down from a rather bizarre kind of flu-cold achey thing that's been ripping its way around town. And that, for better or worse, means we've officially arrived at the peak of soup season.
Molly Gore SOOP may not cure what ails you, but it will soothe your spirits at least.
Enter SOOP: a small and soupy operation smack in the middle of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Every week, the kitchen rolls out six or more soups, including a rotating roster of daily specials. The food represents a philosophy distilled in the name, SOOP -- an old English spelling of "soup" from a 17th century cookbook, Robert May's The Accomplished Cook, one of the first of the kind ever published. Founders Marc Kelley and Linda Della chose the name to represent a kind of throwback to simplicity, harkening back to the days before processing, packaging, pesticides, and profit adulterated our food, chipping away at the integrity of our dinners. SOOP goes back to scratch, and if it isn't just the best on a foggy, coughy night.
The soups are stuffed with gentle, innocuous flavors most of the time, with a few bold players thrown in between. If you're responsible, you'll get the green soup -- an inoffensive blend of all the good things like spinach, split peas, parsley, and zucchini. If you're sick and don't give a crap and want a warm blanket of sweet and spicy goodness, you'll carry out a bucket of the curried butternut squash with pear. It's delightfully sweet and peppery, warmly spiced and gritty enough to feel hearty without the trouble of really having to chew anything, which we all know is a tall order when you're curled up in bed trying to stream all of Downton Abbey back to back.