A Microsouperie; I am in love with this place before I even have my first sampling of soup. The Soup Cup in Traverse City is quickly approaching their one year anniversary of when they first opened their souptastic doors. Located along the railroad tracks of the historic Train Depot Station, next to the main Traverse Area District Library, the Soup Cup is thriving. The success and exuberant energy found within their walls is all thanks to the passion and dedication put into each batch of soup prepared by Scott and Rita Nitsche.
Eight different kinds of soup are served daily, and it is highly unlikely that you will see the same soup served twice in one week. Each of the eight daily soups offer something for everyone’s palate, with one soup chosen from one of their eight categories. These categories include vegan, poultry, seafood, and a hearty, stew-like soup. To date, over 570 soup recipes lie locked away with The Nitsches. On top of the categorized soups, The Soup Cup loves themes too. I had the pleasure of visiting on St. Patrick’s Day this year and was absolutely delighted. Seven of the soups were green and all featured traditional St. Patrick’s Day items, such as corned beef and cabbage. There were even free cookies, with festive green sprinkles! Other themes include a Thanksgiving Day soup, which literally has everything one would expect at a Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, gravy, and much more.
Believe it or not, the Soup Cup has more than just soup. They feature some variation of the grilled cheese daily. My most recent visit included the hotdog surprise grilled cheese. Customer favorites are the apricot grilled cheese and jalepeno popper grilled cheese. Aside from soup and grilled cheese, the Soup Cup is almost as famous for their gluten-free Belgium fries. My favorite part about these fries is that there are 18 different dipping sauces to choose from. These are in-house creations such as ketchupeno, balsamic ketchup, and chipotle mayo. The Nitsches test everything out on their employees before making anything available to the public. “The best part is watching their facial expressions. Their faces tell it all! Is it good? Awful? We can see it right away,” Rita mused.
Since opening almost one year ago, the number one complaint that the Nitsches have heard is that their soups don’t have as much salt as people are used to. Rita explained that this is because their soups are made daily and are all made from fresh ingredients, “Look around! We have to make our soups daily, we have no place to store anything!” There are no preservatives in their soups since there is no need for them. The tiny kitchen makes it clear that nothing is made ahead of time and stored in bulk. Customers have the option of sampling any and all of their soups before deciding on what they want. Rita could not express the importance of sampling enough, “Just try them! Expand your horizons! Customers can even try all eight and not buy anything, but just sample something different.” I was pleasantly surprised by how knowledgable all the employees were about each individual soup. Not only did they know all about the stock, spices, and ingredients, but they also knew each soup’s history and origin. Nothing makes a dining experience more enjoyable than employees who love their work and clearly demonstrate that love.
The Nitsches are passionate about their food, and they share that passion with local farmers and merchants. They buy local whenever possible, and though this takes more time and effort, the Nitsches thoroughly enjoy this aspect. Rita’s description of the process made it sound like a bit of a scavenger hunt; “We call local farmers and see what they have, what is in season. Sometimes we pick up potatoes on the way to work, other times it’s whitefish and salmon. That’s the fun part, hunting down what Michigan has in season right now.”
A particularly pleasing aspect of The Soup Cup is the fact that if you want to be included in a soup’s rotation, you can be. Rita has an email list for each soup, and will personally email you to let you know if your favorite soup will be on the menu that upcoming week. Other ways to find out about which soups will be “on tap” daily are their website and Facebook page. The Soup Cup is open Tuesday through Friday from 11-3 and Saturday from 11-4 and accepts cash only.
The Soup Cup will be celebrating their one year anniversary on May 15th and plan to make it an exceptional bash. Birthday and anniversary soups will be served and spirits will be high. Do you plan on stopping by? What is your favorite soup from The Soup Cup?