Bowl of Soup

I like soup as much as the next guy. Maybe even a little less. Don’t get me wrong: when a bowl is placed in front of me, I eat it and enjoy it; however, it’s not the first thing I think of when the question, “What do I feel like eating?” arises.

Then I started working at my new job. At least once a week, someone would say, “I’m going for soup. Anyone else?” Inevitably, a horde of hungry salespeople would put in their orders. I’d sit there thinking, “Soup? Really? Oooookay. How good can it be? It’s…soup.” The designated bringer o’ the soup would return 15 minutes later, dole out the orders and there would be absolute silence except for the slurping of noodles and broth and the occasional, “GAWD, this soup is good.”

After a particularly long day at a mid-week company event in September, I showed up at work the next day exhausted and a little grouchy from being overtired.  By the time lunch came around, I was starving and in need of some comfort. P, my coworker, suggested that today would be a good day for soup. I thought, “Eh, why not? I could go for some soup.”  “Get the OMG! You’ll love it!!” yelled another coworker as P and I walked out the door.  Off P and I and went to Sprout, a tiny, family-run Vietnamese spot beloved by the office drones (myself included!) of Yonge & St. Clair.  The line up to order was long, but moving quickly. The air smelled of spicy broths, garlic, ginger and a variety of other warm, comforting aromas. I felt my shoulders drop a little and a smile move across my face. This was gonna be good. I ordered my “OMG Soup” with shrimp (you can get it with any protein you like. Shrimp & tofu are my faves), got my number and waited somewhat-patiently. A friendly woman brought me a bag with my soup in a container and, when we’d collected all the other orders, we headed back to chow down.

Back at the office, the soups distributed, we all sat down and got to the serious business of enjoying the hell out of this soup. I lifted the lid and the spice-infused steam wafted up to my face. All was well with the world. Looking down, I saw a mix of soft vermicelli noodles,  crunchy bean sprouts, delicate basil leaves, mushrooms, bright pink shrimp and green onions. It was quite spicy but not to the detriment of the other flavours in the broth.  Two bites in, it was clear that I had been missing out.  Spoonful after spoonful – and chopstick-full – went down and after awhile I stopped caring that there were soup droplets flying all over the place. Clean up could happen later.  As it happened, we had a meeting scheduled about 15 minutes after we’d grabbed the soup and we asked if we could bring our lunches into the meeting. “No problem.” Well, small problem: all through the meeting, you’d hear “slurrrrrrrrp! Mmmmmmm.” Must’ve been odd to those on the speaker phone…

I have consequently brought several friends to this place and they are now equally addicted. It’s a weekly tradition for me now as I know it is for others. Word to the wise: don’t wear white. You will absolutely end up with an orange stain on it from the chile oil.  It’s a little messy but so completely worth it. I’m telling you, you need to go and get this soup. Sprout only takes cash and is only open on weekdays during the day. If you’re in the area, make the jump over and try the OMG Soup. It’s the best bowl of soup I have ever had.

Sorry, Mom. Your matzoh ball soup is delicious, but this soup is dang-near otherworldly.

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