I’ve been driving by Soup Kettle Grille in Meridian for about a year now, the whole time thinking it was some fast-casual chain concept. You know, the kind of place that offers quick service and a profusion of soups, none of which are actually made there — instead, sent made from the corporate offices, only to be heated up later.
That’s not the case at Soup Kettle Grille, a family-run, independent eatery on Overland Road, across from Zamzow’s, near the corner of Eagle Road.
Owner Shane Leupold and his kin swiftly put out scratch-made soups, salads, cold sandwiches and hybrid grilled cheese sandwiches.
After receiving several encouraging emails about the eatery, I decided to check it out.
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Not long after opening the door, I was greeted by the friendly staff at the front counter area. No “Soup Nazi” here. There’s plenty of soup for everyone, served efficiently and with a big, heartfelt smile. It’s kind of like going over to a buddy’s house for lunch.
Each day, the soups du jour are scrawled on a chalkboard next to the counter. The master list boasts more than 140 rotating soups, but on any given day, expect to find six to eight seasonal selections on the board. (You also can score tubs of soup kept in a reach-in cooler out front — meant to be taken home.)
One afternoon, I ordered two cups of soup that were rolled into the price of sandwich combination deals. Basically, you buy a sandwich (or a salad) and a cup of soup costs $2.99.
The buttermilk chicken salad sandwich ($9.98 for a whole sandwich and soup) was creamy and pocked with tender, chopped chicken breast, toasted almond slivers and plump red grapes (with a hint of tarragon) on a chewy ciabatta roll with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. A cup of velvety red potato-leek soup — vegetarian and gluten-free — boasted big allium flavors and came with slices of baguette.
A meatball grilled cheese sandwich ($10.48 for whole sandwich and soup) paired well with a cup of basil-perfumed tomato soup with a lingering essence of garlic. The piping-hot sandwich — made on tangy sourdough bread with flattened pork and beef meatballs, aromatic marinara sauce and jack cheese — had Parmesan seared into the crispy, golden-brown exterior, and it was expectedly gooey on the inside.
I tagged on an additional cup of cheeseburger soup ($4.39). As you would expect, this hearty soup gleans inspiration from one of America’s iconic meals, with lots of seasoned ground beef, red-skinned spuds and mirepoix (chopped carrot, celery and onion) in a robust, five cheese-infused beef broth.
During another lunch visit, I went for an Italian meats sandwich and a cup of roasted chicken noodle soup ($10.68 for both), a thick and chunky concoction — fragranced with mirepoix and house-made chicken stock — that ate like a stew. The sandwich was built on a crusty baguette, brushed with sun-dried tomato mayonnaise, with layer upon layer of marbled salami, pepperoni, shaved ham, Swiss cheese, tomato slices and shredded lettuce.
The eatery also had a buffalo chicken soup that day, which I rolled into the price of an Asian chicken salad ($9.98), a bowl of fresh tasting mixed greens, green cabbage and shredded carrot with knuckle-sized chunks of chicken breast that was unfortunately a little dry. The salad came with a side of dark and tangy sesame dressing with a backbeat of miso. The soup definitely had me thinking buffalo hot wings, with pieces of tender chicken and mirepoix in a mild hot sauce-kicked chicken broth thickened with cream.
My dining partner went vegetarian all the way with the Gouda grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of asparagus-leek soup ($9.98 for both) that was silky and big on earthy flavors. The properly seared sourdough sandwich boasted a stratum of roasted red bell pepper, caramelized onion and oozy cow’s milk cheeses (Gouda and jack).
Soup Kettle Grille recently started serving breakfast as well. Expect to find tasty grilled cheese-and-egg sandwiches and some morning-inspired soups. How does a cup of ham hash soup sound? Maybe next time.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: scene@ idahostatesman.com.
Soup Kettle Grille
Address: 3675 E. Overland Road, Meridian
Phone: (208) 999-2830
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m.
Menu price range: soups $4-$7; sandwiches and salads $5-$8
Kid friendly? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: April 2015