Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
It's been a while since I've written about a food truck. Even though I work downtown, I still don't see them parked on the street very often, which is a shame. When I do see one, I chase after it like a fat kid chasing after an ice cream truck. Well, technically I guess it's not really "chasing" a food truck if it's parked, but that's a minor detail.
When I found the Soups in the Loop truck last week, it was on an unseasonably cold day—blustery, damp, and in the 40's. I eagerly stood in line while I listened to my coworkers complaining about the weather for ten minutes straight. I had a reason to be excited: the Soups in the Loop truck serves nothing but fermented Mongolian yak wraps in an Ethiopian flatbread, fused with charred Mexican salsas. Just kidding. They serve soup.
Along with the soup they do serve a few small bites, including the BBQ pork slider ($2.00). My coworker grumpily pointed out that the term "slider" is misleading, and he's right. Rather than being a cute little oniony burger, it's really just a miniature pork sandwich. The tender shredded pork is coated heavily in a candy-sweet sauce, and the overly sweet sauce covers up most of the pork flavor. But for $2 they're actually a pretty decent size, perfect for a snack or as part of your soup lunch.
The Buffalo chicken slider ($2.00) is also not a real slider and is just a miniature buffalo chicken salad sandwich. Skip this one. It's somewhat dry and not quite as flavorful as you'd imagine a hot-sauce laced chicken salad would be, and there's an overabundance of celery bits mixed in. I appreciate the concept, but in execution, it misses the mark.
Seeing lobster bisque ($6.00) on the menu of a food truck is a nice surprise. It's on the thinner side, but an honest-to-goodness lobster flavor comes through along with the usual tomato base. The bisque is also sweet, finished with a touch of nutmeg. There's a very tiny bit of lobster meat thrown in, just so you know you're getting the real thing.
The broccoli cheddar soup ($6.00) is the crowd favorite. It's rich and creamy with strings of melted cheddar in it, which makes for fun spoonfuls when you get a bit of stretchy cheese. The familiar slightly bitter flavor of broccoli comes through, but just enough so you know it's there.
The split pea soup ($6.00) is salty, savory, and hearty, with that traditional slightly grainy texture. It's also vegan, which is interesting considering the full-on savoriness of the soup.
There are two types of dessert balls ($2.00 for 2), the Oreo balls and the Oompa Loompas. Both of them are dense, rich, and very sugary, almost like fudge. The Oreo version, is, well, blended Oreos, and the Oompa Loompa is like a peanut butter cup on steroids—sweet, peanutty, and smooth. If you've ever had a cake ball, it's similar to that, but denser.
There is a good deal on the menu for three servings of soup (8 oz. each) for $9.00 if you're curious and want to pop some in the work fridge for later. With summer coming up, I'm not sure if hot soup is something you'll ache for, like Ron Burgundy's poor choice of milk on a hot day. But knowing Chicago weather, I'm sure there'll still be a few days yet for some hot soup.
Soups in the Loop
About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.