TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

Drop-in Dining: Ladle up a luscious lunch

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Nov. 6, 2009 at 5:08 am | 4 Comments »
November 5, 2009 6:15 pm
Marlene's Market and Deli offers a variety of vegetable soups including this egg plant curry soup.  Their menu varies daily. Photo by Janet Jensen/The News Tribune
Marlene's Market and Deli offers a variety of vegetable soups including this egg plant curry soup. Their menu varies daily. Photo by Janet Jensen/The News Tribune

I’m in a hurry. I need lunch. I don’t want drive-through, and standing in a long line is not an option. My solution: take-out soup. It’s not exactly portable food, but a much more nutritious lunch than hitting your local fast-food joint.
I can think of three places in Tacoma that do take-out soup well: Infinite Soups, Marlene’s Market & Deli and Metropolitan Market. Where’s your favorite place for take-out soup? Comment here.

Click “more” to read about soups at Infinite Soups, Marlene’s and Metropolitan Market.

Infinite Soups
Where: 445 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma (another location at 744 Commerce St., inside Sandford & Son)
Phone: 253-274-0232
Soup Prices: $2.50 cup, $3.50 bowl, $4.50 half quart, $8 quart

Infinite Soups is the perfect name for this restaurant – a seemingly infinite number of soups, and only soup, is what they sell. A revolving menu offers at least 20 daily choices. The soups here run the gamut in ingredients and textures. Vegetarian soups, vegan soups and lots of meat soups. Thin soups, chunky soups, chili and even soups that almost could qualify as stew. A voice mail every day tells diners what’s simmering. Infinite Soups recently began selling chewy, delicious demi baguettes ($2.50) made by nearby Corina Bakery, and the cafe also offers wheat rolls for 75 cents each (crackers in the bins by the door). Disclosure: The trio who run the soup cafe once ran Café Trib – The News Tribune’s cafeteria – but have not worked here for more than two years.
Soups sampled:

Italian autumn soup: A fennel-scented broth provided the Italian part of the equation. Chunky bits of potatoes, carrots and roasted pork added autumnal dimension.
Creamy chipotle: This creamy soup punched the back of my throat with heat from pureed chipotles blended with cream, potatoes and basil. Not for those with timid palates.
Mushroom stroganoff: This soup was a favorite when the owners of Infinite Soups ran the TNT cafeteria. The thin, creamy base held large slices of mushrooms and bow-tie pasta. The best part of this soup was the creamy, deeply flavored broth. It was worthy of an entire demi baguette.
Mushroom, leek and lentil: Overly salty broth came with chunky bits of mushroom and a healthy dose of leeks. Lentils added meaty texture.

Marlene’s Market & Deli
Where: 2951 S. 38th St., Tacoma
Phone: 253-472-4080
Soup prices: $3.49 cup, $3.99 bowl, $4.49 pint

A daily rotation of four to six soups offers something for every diet at this market and deli. If you’re gluten intolerant or a vegan there are soups for you. Marlene’s soups skew to the flavorful, thick side. This is the place to go for hearty fall eating. Some soups are so thick, your spoon practically will stand up on its own. This natural foods store really has increased its café offerings the last few years and recently expanded the salad bar. At this cafe, you order at the counter and pay up front at the registers.
My one complaint about Marlene’s is there are no bread
choices to pair up with the soup. The store offer crackers to go with your soup, and they’re quite good, but no replacement for a chewy wheat roll. If they’re available, the tender cheddar biscuits on the salad bar (70 cents each), can be quickly turned into a dunking vessel. Soups sampled:

Corn chowder: This potato-laden chowder was thick with crunchy kernels of corn. Pepper added kick.
Butternut squash: Thick and rich and with a hint of apples and spiked with cinnamon, this sweet soup was my top pick for soups at Marlene’s.
Chard with lentils: A light tomato broth held chunky bits of carrot, onion and waxy lentils. Large pieces of chard added earthy bite.
Chicken chili: Ground chicken created a healthy foundation for this red bean chili spiked with chilies in a thick, smoky tomato broth.

Metropolitan Market
Where: 2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma
Phone: 253-761-3663
Soup prices: $2.49 small, $3.99 medium, $6.99 large

Metropolitan Market’s self-serve soup counter sits just around the corner from the cheese aisle. The selection usually numbers six, with many soups changing daily. Soups here trend thinner in texture. You’re more likely to find thin bisques than chunky, creamy, hearty soups. I found a few soups short on flavor. Soups here might appeal to those with more timid palates. I liked that the soups were marked with an information card that indicated ingredients, and which soups were vegan, vegetarian or gluten free. Metropolitan Market scores high for offering great accompanying bread
choices. Bins of fresh rolls and baguettes – six kinds – are right above the soups for 99 cents each.
Soups sampled:

Autumn pumpkin: A mild pumpkin base with crunchy bits of shredded carrots. A too subtle pumpkin flavor didn’t hold my interest long.
Corn and green chili bisque: A velvety texture, and spiked with crunchy corn that tasted fresh. Green chilies added mild heat. The flavor was cheesy.
Potato leek: Creamy and rich – a delightful, velvety texture for a potato soup, but where was the leek flavor? All I could taste was potato. Eat with the wheat roll.
Broccoli cheese: This cheesy soup base came loaded with chunky pieces of broccoli. The broth was more thin than most broccoli cheese soups I’ve enjoyed, but the flavor was intensely broccoli cheese.

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