Feature – The Soup Dept.
Winter has finally cast her wickedly cold spell over the city, meaning that thoughts turn to dishes that warm the body, mind, and soul.
And what better dish to do so than homemade soup? Personally, it is one of my favourite mid-week meals and I often find myself concocting vast cauldrons of the stuff that lasts into the weekend and easily pleases friends who stop by for lunch.
Soup doesn’t have to be boring and there is one guy who is spreading fantastic homemade soup across the city. I chatted to Tom Chadd, owner of The Soup Dept, a growing street-food business in the heart of Brighton, about what makes his soup stand out.
How did the idea for The Soup Dept come about?
I was keen on the idea of setting up a food business and I decided that soup would work well as street food. It’s nice and quick to serve, I am able to cook it all inside the van, and there are so many possibilities for making different soups. I think it works well as a lunch option that people come back to regularly because it’s healthy, inexpensive, and the soups are different each day.
The name comes from one of my favourite bands, The Radio Dept, but not many people have heard of them. I also considered calling it Ladle of Filth, but decided that might be too off-putting.
What are your main influences?
The recipes I come up with can be influenced by any food I come across that has an interesting combination of flavours, whether it’s soup or other meals that I have eaten or ones that I’ve cooked in previous jobs. Other chefs that I’ve worked with have given me some nice ideas, too.
I have come across many great street food stalls, often at music festivals, and I find them inspiring. I also feel influenced and inspired by the growing number of ethical and environmentally-aware food businesses. I try to trade in an environmentally-friendly way – for example, by using local and organic ingredients where possible and by using compostable cups. Anyone who brings their own cup will get 50p off a soup or coffee.
What’s your signature street food dish?
I’ve been making some soups with nice Thai flavours – ingredients like lemongrass, chilli, ginger, coconut, and so on – and they tend to be popular. Thai Red Curried Lentil soup is always a favourite.
If you had to sum up your street food in three words, what would they be?
Healthy. Tasty. Fresh.
Where can we find you?
Currently in the car park of The Wood Recycling Store in Circus Street, open weekdays 9.30am to 4.30pm. It’s between Circus Street Market and the Brighton University Arts College.
Words by Claire Beveridge.
Originally printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent Friday 5th November 2014