You may be familiar with 100 Bowls of Soup from the Reston Farmers Market, or perhaps you have sampled their seasonal offerings from the selection at Mom’s Organic. This month, founder Katharine Mardirosian made the leap from a market booth to a bright and airy retail and kitchen space in Herndon’s Sunset Business Park. The new shop is located near Amphora Bakery and Urban Retreat and just minutes from Reston proper.
I visited 100 Bowls of Soup to see what was cooking and to chat with Katharine about her philosophy and vision for the new shop.
100 Bowls of Soup was born in 2009 from Katharine’s desire to bring the soups she had tasted in her mother-in-law’s kitchen in Bucharest, Romania to the States.
The food she prepared every day (and she made a soup almost every day!) in the most modest of kitchens from simple fresh ingredients was some of the most flavorful, delicious and nourishing I have eaten in my life. There seemed to be more wisdom in her hands than a shelf full of cookbooks.
Katharine realized how few people had actually tasted, much less made, homemade soup or stock from scratch. While raising her children, she began to make chicken soup from scratch a couple times week and then began experimenting with vegetable- and legume-based soups.
As her recipes evolved a business slowly grew. She developed relationships with the farmers and artisans she was sourcing ingredients from and made a conscious effort to cook seasonally “making every ingredient matter.”
Unusually, most of 100 Bowls of Soup’s recipes are vegan. While delicious on their own, Katharine sees her soups as a base for a meal, a starting point. Each customer may choose to add cream or meat, and in some cases salt. Katharine is very careful about the amount of salt she adds believing that most soups on the market cover up low quality ingredients with heavy salt.
Chicken stock should taste like chicken… In vegetable soups, you should be able to taste the full flavor of the actual vegetables.
Making soups without cream or meat also extends the shelf-life and makes them more freezer-friendly.
100 Bowls of Soup also believes in having as little impact on the environment as possible. This can be seen in their use of the whole chicken — from stock to bone broth to schmaltz — and in their commitment to eliminating waste products in the kitchen. Her staff, consisting of six all together, take home composting and recycling at the end of the day because the business park does offer all of these services.
The new retail space will allow 100 Bowls of Soup to experiment with small batches of new flavors. Katharine sees it as a test kitchen of sorts where she can get immediate feedback from customers on new recipes before committing to a large production. She also plans to sell hot soup for immediate carry-out at lunchtime, as well as a bone broth bar. Bone broth has become hugely popular in NYC as an alternative to coffee in the morning because of it’s high nutritional value. Yes, Restonians, you’ll soon be sipping this heart-warming and body-nourishing broth out of to-go cups! (Full-disclosure, I already do.)
The new space is also perfect for cooking classes, which Katharine says they hope to implement this summer with cold soups such as gazpacho. In the fall she sees the curriculum leaning towards hearty soups and homemade stocks.
100 Bowls of Soups has a fabulous selection of soups right now. Stop by for lunch and choose from:
Black Eyed Pea & Cabbage
Harissa Red Lentil
Roasted Fennel, Garlic & Bean
Spicy Black Bean
Look for these flavors as the weather warms and vegetables come into season:
Arugula, Leek & Yam
Minestrone (this one changes throughout the year)
Mushroom Onion & Miso
Eventually, Katharine plans to add take-out salads and sandwiches to her menu.
If you need a sweet treat to go with your soup, 100 Bowls of Soup shares their kitchen space with the gluten-free baker, Deborah Joy. She stocks wheat-free and Paleo-friendly cookies, muffins and bars.
Soup is a meal and I believe it is the most practical and versatile of meals. It can be dressed up or down for any occasion. It can be served in small portions as a starter or, complemented by a salad and a loaf of bread, it can be the main course. Personally, I like the satisfaction of creating a meal, not just a snack or treat. — Katharine Mardirosian
100 Bowls of Soup
279 Sunset Park Drive
Herndon VA 20170
Mon – Sat 11 AM – 5 PM