Sausage, Cabbage, and Potato soup surrounded by Gourds

La Soupe for the Soul: An Institute for Food Partner on a Mission

When the Ohio weather dips below forty degrees for the first time, there’s nothing like a steaming bowl of soup to look forward to as you come in from the cold. My friends and I usually break out the crockpot around Halloween. But if you’re not much of a chef yourself, sick of the same old bland chicken noodle, or looking for a new lunch hangout with heart, you can support the Food Institute and a wonderful nonprofit at the same time by visiting La Soupe—a kitchen that feeds an entire community.

A roadside restaurant in Cincinnati, La Soupe is one of the Food Institute’s community partners. The carry-out “soup shack” is the brainchild of chef and founder Suzy DeYoung and features a positively mouth-watering menu of sandwiches, salads, and of course, seasonal soups. What makes La Soupe stand out is its unique mission: for every bowl of soup sold, a bowl is donated to a person in need.

Each weekend, La Soupe cooks large batches of soup and delivers them to local partners who will share it with the hungry in their communities. To be able to sustain their project, La Soupe gets their ingredients from an unlikely source. All of their produce, from squash to salad greens, is “rescued” from nearby grocery stores and organic farms—among them Miami’s Institute for Food. Vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away are donated to La Soupe to create delicious and highly nutritious meals for the community.

The partnership between La Soupe and the Food Institute is a symbiotic one. Lauren Wulker, manager of the farm, explains that donations help ensure that no vegetable is left behind and none go to waste. “We’ve been donating our seconds, which are just the ugly veggies, to La Soupe,” laughs Lauren. While the “ugly veggies” are crunchy, fresh, and delicious, not all vendors are interested in lumpy carrots or tomatoes that aren’t perfectly round. Misshapen or not, the potatoes that went into my cabbage, sausage, and potato soup were a delectable addition to an unorthodox blend of spicy and smooth ingredients. The result was heavenly and the highlight of my snowy November Saturday.

Donations to La Soupe not only contribute extra veggies to a good cause, but they also help support the Institute’s goal to engage communities in providing everyone with nutritious food. As Lauren Wulker says, community outreach does not always ask the questions “will you buy our produce” or “will you support us financially?” Instead, we ask, “will you just say yes to the importance of this work that we’re doing? Can we get behind this together? How can the Institute for Food support your work?” In the seasonal specialties of La Soupe’s shareable broths, the Institute has found a like-minded partner looking to spread the joy of fresh food in their community.