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There’s more than just soup at the Soup Gallery in Concord. Courtesy photo.




Soup Gallery

Open for lunch daily, tapas and dinner menus on Friday and Saturday evenings
Where: Capital Plaza, 55 N. Main St., Suite B, Concord
Call: 715-1496
Visit: facebook.com/soupgallery




Soup’s on
Creative minds make Soup Gallery’s menu

06/19/14



 Long before the Soup Gallery opened its doors in Concord, owner Natalia Strong was making soup for her friends.

“If you’ve ever read that childhood book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I swear the restaurant business is like that,” she said. “If you give a friend a bowl of soup, your other friend’s going to want one, and the whole thing has evolved that way.”
It began when Strong started cooking soup to share a wholesome dinner with friends at bikram yoga. The owner of the yoga studio suggested Strong sell the soups out of a refrigerator, and not long thereafter, Strong started renting out a commercial kitchen per diem. 
“I would come in at 6 in the morning and just make soup all day long until midnight,” Strong said.
This summer, the Soup Gallery is celebrating its second anniversary in Capital Plaza.
The soup menu rotates, with options like tomato spinach lentil, creamy chicken mushroom with organic kale and vegan minestrone (and that only skims the surface). 
Each weekend there’s a new tapas menu. Recently, the Soup Gallery introduced a dinner menu for weekends. Strong intends for the dinner menu to rotate on a monthly basis. 
The June menu features dishes like grilled portobello, dried apricot and gorgonzola cheese salad with mixed organic greens and balsamic reduction, chicken Madeira and organic crimini mushroom on a bed of organic spinach, wild white risotto infused with white wine and rosemary and topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and orange cheesecake with chocolate drizzle for dessert.
“The local people in the area are starting to realize we have more than just soup,” said Ashley Belbin, a Soup Gallery employee. “A big reason I think it’s been growing so much is we have so many creative people in the kitchen. Everyone kind of pools together and has fun with it.”
Everything on the menu, from lunchtime soups and salads to dinner entrees and breakfast items, has been prepared from scratch, with organic and locally sourced ingredients. Most of the soups are gluten-free, and vegan offerings can always be found on the menu (like a popular vegan pancake that has made weekend appearances). 
“You can’t really have fake soup ... you have to start from scratch,” Belbin said. “You can feel the difference when you eat good, real fresh food.”
For the summer months, cold and fruity soups will appear on the menu, including a cherry lemon zest soup, watermelon soup with lime and ginger or watermelon and mint, as well as tropical gazpacho (“It’s kind of fruity and savory all at the same time,” Strong said). But that doesn’t mean diners should ignore the hot soups this summer. “It’s good for your body temperature to eat something hot when you are hot,” Belbin said.
If you don’t believe it, free samples of any of the soups are always available to taste.
The Soup Gallery’s culinary “rules” are the same for sandwiches as they are for soups.
“We try to create a twist on the classics,” Strong said. “And there are no limits.”
One of the most popular sandwiches puts a spin on the classic turkey sandwich by pairing it with ingredients like whipped goat cheese and apricots.
“The [customers] that are not used to ‘foodie’-type food … become really surprised,” Belbin said. “It kind of opens the door for them to try a little more.”
Ingredients are sourced from local farms including Brookford Farm, Canterbury Creamery and Dimond Hill Farm — and at Dimond Hill Farm you can find Soup Gallery soups in the fridge to go. In the future, Strong would like to apply for the Soup Gallery to become a certified local restaurant. 
Strong said that participating locally, in the kitchen and beyond, is important to the mission of the Soup Gallery, from the tables made by an area craftsman to bread from A Mere Baguette to Bow High School interns.
“We’re definitely trying to be very integrated in the community,” Strong said. “It all kind of goes full circle, because why wouldn’t we eat this way?” 
 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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