They’re Hot and They’re Cold: The Soupbox

Locations: 50 E. Chicago
2943 N. Broadway
500 W. Madison
Website: www.thesoupbox.com

I walk along Broadway Avenue in East Lakeview almost every day, and, like most Chicagoans, I’m usually in too much of a hurry to give more than an intrigued glance to the unique restaurants that pepper the street. I mean, I see them. I think, “Hey, I’ll check that out.” And eight months later I’m with a friend who gets me into a new place that soon becomes a weekly stop. It’s my typical cycle, and my relationship with The Soupbox follows suit. Last week, I’m strolling with a friend who chooses the frosty windows of this little restaurant that boasts the “best soup in Chicago.”

Since its opening in 1995, The Soupbox has offered a refreshingly simple experience. Soup is served in a paper bowl with a plastic spoon and a generous piece of complimentary Italian bread in a sandwich bag. Prices range from four to eight dollars and the variety of the menu and quality of the soups are unsurpassed. Their chefs have fiddled with recipes from around the globe to create 64 soups, each made off-site from fresh ingredients.

They’ve got a variety of hot pots to try from Vegetarian to gluten free to heart-stopping meaty — the best seller is the lobster bisque. On that note, Seinfeld fans should note there’s no soup Nazi here. The staff is every bit as warm as the steam rising from the bowl in their window logo. I’ve only been met with smiles and patience for my inane indecisiveness at the counter when I’m ordering. Management chooses twelve soups to serve daily, rotating so the best-sellers are always in the mix. And if you’re not sure where to start, check the suggestions chalkboard.

When you’re walking by on a 90-degree August day on the way to watch a Cubs loss at Wrigley Field (I’m a fan, but let’s be real), soup may not be the first thing on your mind — but don’t worry, you’ll still have reason to stop in. The Soupbox becomes the Icebox in the summer, offering twenty flavors of Italian ice and outdoor seating.

Another Soupbox/Icebox location was recently opened downtown by Chicago and Michigan, so you don’t have to be in Lakeview to try it out. Hopefully you don’t need another person to get you inside. But if that other person is me, I’ll take it.

About Cheryl Thomas

Cheryl grew up in rural northern Indiana, where everyone is somehow related to a farmer and horse and buggy stations are in the Wal-Mart parking lots. She moved to Chicago a few months after graduating from IU and has since fallen hopelessly in love with the city. She likes trying new deep dish places, exploring used bookstores and dive bars, chatting with strangers on public transit, and all sorts of writing - especially fiction and playwriting.

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