Dining Review: New soup regime

Zuppa offers five different soups every day, serving overall 40 different flavors in its Tel Aviv shop.

soup 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
soup 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Writing about a soup bar without referring to the Seinfeld "soup Nazi" episode is all but impossible. So to get that out of the way, Zuppa, a new soup bar on the northern end of Ibn Gvirol, is nowhere close to the infamous soup chef who dealt so harshly with Jerry and Elaine. Patrons are actually encouraged to taste the day's five-soup selection before deciding. Koby Bendelek and Ofer Elimelech, known for their previous establishment, Kfar Saba's Bar Corola, opened Zuppa at the start of this winter. Each studied in France before advising Tel Aviv's Café Bialik on its menu, and starting a high-end catering service. Then Ofer and Koby took it upon themselves to turn to soup. Wanting to add something to the rather narrow spectrum that is Israeli street food, the two thought soup would be the perfect complement to a Tel Aviv winter. They created a menu with 40 varieties of soup, of which Zuppa offers five each day. There are five crock pots in the small, neatly designed store-front, though the contents are prone to change should any of the flavors run out during the day. On my first visit, I had the pleasure of sampling a brilliant sweet potato and thyme soup, in which the subtlety of the herb brings out the richness of the root vegetable. There was also a wonderfully savory zucchini and feta, a Thai fish soup, and a surprisingly smooth fennel soup. I only regret that I missed the previous day's cauliflower and cocoa soup and lentil with bacon. None of the soups are made with any artificial ingredients - especially not soup powder, the evil additive that, like margarine, should under no circumstance ever be mistaken for food. The emphasis on fresh and tasty extends to the in-house bread - baked fresh on location - that can be purchased to accompany your soup of choice. The aptly named Zuppa bread has a taste reminiscent of those ubiquitous soup-house oyster crackers, which are about as soupy as you can get. Zuppa opens from noon to midnight each day. For the most part they cater for take-out or delivery, but there are about four barstools in the front window where you can enjoy a steaming bowl. The basic soups are NIS 24 per bowl, while the "special" ones (generally meaning non-vegetarian) are NIS 31. An additional NIS 4 buys you a piece of Zuppa bread, a recommended investment. Zuppa is located at 138 Even Gvirol Street, (03) 602-0291; delivery available by calling 1-700-700-307. Not kosher.