Chef Suzy DeYoung comes from an impressive family of chefs. Her father, Pierre Adrian, was the head chef at the renowned, former Cincinnati restaurant, the Maisonette, and was responsible for the restaurant’s first 5-star Mobil rating. Suzy and her sister established La Petite Pierre, a French bistro which includes a high-end catering business.
So, it might come as a surprise to find out that Suzy’s latest endeavor is a soup kitchen that feeds the hungry. But this isn’t your ordinary soup kitchen.
La Soupe, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Newtown, is a nonprofit organization that also functions as a restaurant and take-out joint. La Soupe takes the concept of win/win to a whole new level:
La Soupe partners with local grocery stores to rescue unsold produce before it is thrown into a landfill.
Suzy and her team turn the produce into delicious and nutritious soups which are delivered by volunteers to local schools, churches, and food pantries.
People like you and me can visit La Soupe for a delicious lunch or buy some soup to take home, which helps fund La Soupe’s operations.
What isn’t there to love?!
After reading a newspaper article about hungry children in Cincinnati several years ago, Suzy felt compelled to do something, knowing from her profession that so much food was going to waste. “The vegetables are imperfect, but they’re totally fine to eat. To stabilize fresh produce, soup just makes sense. It’s comfort food, it’s versatile, and you can be creative.”
La Soupe’s building isn’t fancy. Their website describes it as a French roadside soup shack. And depending on when you visit, you might have to share a table with some rescued produce. But the soup is outstanding–superbly crafted with just the right balance of spices and seasoning. The last time I was there, a chef was toasting spices in a skillet, filling the whole place with a heavenly aroma.
They typically have about eight different types of soup, two or three salads, and two sandwiches on the daily menu. Plant-based eaters will be happy to know that many of the soups are vegan. Occasionally, you’ll find the Maisonette’s Lobster Bisque on the menu. Visit La Soupe’s Facebook page to see what’s on the menu each day.
You’ll also want to follow their Facebook page to keep track of the Soupe Mobile schedule. La Soupe has partnered with local restaurants to expand soup production. They work with some of Cincinnati’s best chefs, including Todd Kelly of Orchids at Palm Court and Andy Hiner of Salazar. Volunteers deliver produce to the restaurants and the chefs use it along with any leftover ingredients from their own kitchens to craft more amazing soups. The Soupe Mobile travels to different locations around Cincinnati twice a week and gratefully accepts donations in exchange for soup.
La Soupe has quite an operation with over 400 volunteers. In 2016, they saved 125,000 pounds of produce from being thrown into the landfill and donated 95,000 servings of soup to Cincinnati’s food-insecure families.
What a delicious way to help people and the environment!
La Soupe is located at 4150 Round Bottom Rd, Cincinnati, and is open 11 am – 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.