Ladle Fingers

Soupergirl's new shop spoons out excellent vegetarian soups

Soups can be a tricky proposition for vegetarians. Even the most harmless-sounding vegetable-based broths can hide meat in their rich, flavorful stocks.

Those in the know–and delivery area–have relied on Soupergirl for the last few years. Now the delivery-only company has come to the brick-and-mortar rescue, setting down roots at a new café in Takoma.

The shop offers a best-of selection of rotating soups, both warmed ($4.25 a cup) and pre-packed in the refrigerator ($6.75 a pint), along with packaged salads ($6 a pint).

Soups rely on nuts, grains, spices and vegetables for the strapping flavor that meats often provide. Owner Sara Polon excels with autumn ingredients, puréeing apples and sweet potatoes, roasting squash with maple syrup and drawing out toasted flavors.

Harira, a hearty lentil-chickpea soup, has a piercing aroma of cinnamon, turmeric, cilantro and pepper. Chunky peanut-squash soup (click here for the recipe) swirls with warming curry and cayenne. The addition of brown basmati rice elevates the bowl from a snack to a healthy meal.

Salads build on filling grains like wheat berries, barley and bulgur. Quinoa gets a fall punch from cranberries and walnuts, while nutty barley salad is punctuated with black beans, fresh corn and lime juice.

Vegetarian dishes this satisfying are a job for Soupergirl.

Soupergirl, 314 Carroll St. NW (at Cedar Ave.); 202-609-7177 or thesoupergirl.com