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Soop — A Taste of Home, Wherever That May Be

Come in from the rain and get a pint or quart of soup to go. You never know what tastes and memories you might stir up.

For all the praises of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, there are still many diners who regularly bypass Soop, one of the nine gourmet take-out eateries that make up Epicurious Garden 0n Shattuck Avenue.

Soop deals in soup for every taste and time of the year, and the menu changes daily and weekly. But also it deals in comfort and perhaps even memories. Whether it's your family's minestrone, an East Coaster's favorite clam chowder, or a grandmother's spicy Thai tom kha gai, you'll find something familiar here.

Soop's co-owner Linda Della was born to an Italian immigrant farming family in the Central Valley and brings both her understanding of tradition and her understanding of business to this venture, already in its seventh year. Della's business partner, German-born Marc Kelley, was traveling for his previous job when he realized that there was a soup in every corner of the world. Their menu reflects this epiphany.

Among this week's selections are Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup, a Louisiana-inspired Black-eyed Peas and Andouille soup, and Avgolemeno, a traditional Greek soup made with chicken, rice and lemon. There is also a selection of vegetarian and vegan Southeast Asian soups like East Indian Lentil and Thai Red Lentil with Coconut. On weekends there's a featured stew — this Saturday and Sunday, one that combines pork, prunes and apricots.

For traditional Western tastes, a regular here is the mild and brothy chicken soup brimming with chucks of white and dark chicken meat, each cup individually topped off with freshly cooked noodles.

A spicy Chili Con Carne is also a mainstay, especially good with Soop's homemade skillet cornbread. If cornbread is not to your taste, there are handmade croutons, and each cup of soup also comes with a slice of fresh bread.

Soop is located in Epicurious Garden, 1511 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. It's the first counter on the left as you walk through the doors. Open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

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