It’s common knowledge that Mom knows best—especially when it comes to cooking. But it’s certainly not as common to set up a business based on Mom’s wholesome, progressive and earth-friendly food. Just in time for Mother’s Day, meet Soupergirl, which is run by a mother-daughter duo that has brought the passion (not to mention healthfulness!) of a unique style of home cooking to DC denizens.
Back in 2008, owner Sara Polon, a member of the JFE® Advisory Council, began looking for a tangible way to become involved in the area’s local food movement. Sifting through several options, she landed on liquid gold: soup. And Marilyn, her mother, was naturally there to help, as both inspiration and chef.
The two began by renting basement kitchen space in a now-defunct Spanish restaurant for pick-up and delivery orders. In 2012, they opened their own brick-and-mortar shop on a cozy corner of Takoma Park. Here’s the big scoop (or ladle, if you prefer): this month Soupergirl will open a second location right downtown.
Why soup, one might wonder. It’s not trendy, Polon admits. There won’t be a Soup Wars reality show or Cronut gazpacho or lines down the block for the hottest new bowl of bacon-maple-bourbon-peanut butter. But soup has staying power. “Everyone loves soup,”Polon says. “It’s versatile. It has endless potential possibilities. And it’s more than just food. It’s comfort, it’s memory and it’s healthy.”
Most importantly, soup is a convenient, slurp-able vehicle to showcase the region’s diverse, incredibly deep seasonal harvests. As we know, DC has four highly distinct seasons, which produce a bounty of goods. This style of sourcing—local, seasonal, personal—is the backbone of the business. Sweet potato is for the cool months, and tomatoes are only around in the summer. Polon knows all of her farmers by name and works closely with them to offer the highest quality ingredients.
The final component of the perfect soup? All products are vegan and kosher in order to respect our world while enjoying its abundance. A philosophy of kashrut, Polon says, is being aware of our food and our bodies. Because much of what we consume comes from an industrial food system, we don’t usually know who prepared our food, where it came from or how it was made. For this reason, Polon eliminated all animal-based products. From there, it was only logical that everything be kosher as well, not only because of the moral aspect, but also as a nod to the huge support Polon received from the local Jewish community.
Back to mom Marilyn. Deep in the pots of soup she prepared for her own growing children was a commitment to making sure that everyone had enough to eat and that the food she served was healthy. Soupergirl reflects that ethos, whether in the West African Safari Stew or the New Identity Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup. Sara exclaims that Marilyn exudes love, motherly Jewish love. “People simply feel better eating her dishes. If we can get more people eating her food through Soupergirl, the world will be better off.”
Soupergirl Takoma Park, 202-609-7177, 314 Carroll Street, NW, Washington, DC; Monday-Thursday, 8:15 am-8 pm; Friday, 8:15 am-3 pm; Sunday, 11 am-5 pm; Closed Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
Soupergirl M Street, 202-733-4401, 1829 M Street NW, Washington, DC; Monday-Thursday, 10 am-8 pm; Friday 10 am-5 pm; Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Jewish holidays.
Top photo: Soupermom Marilyn (left) and Soupergirl Sara at their Takoma Park store