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Published: Thursday, 10/22/2009

It's always time for soup

Short on ambience but heavy on taste, Zoup! caters to a budget-minded crowd looking for a filling meal on short notice.

In a strip mall at the corner of Dussel Drive and Holland Road in Maumee, Zoup! is part of a small chain with most of the outlets in the Detroit and Ann Arbor region.

More of a cafeteria than a restaurant, Zoup! allows customers to taste the 12 varieties on offer each day, ranging from Italian pasta and vegetables to seafood bisque to barley mushroom. The selection changes daily, and diners craving a certain variety can call ahead or check online (zoup.com) to see what's available. Portions are served in cardboard cups with plastic utensils and paper napkins. Diners bus their own tables. This is not fine dining, but it's geared toward keeping prices low, and it's easy enough to take the order home and jazz up the presentation with little effort.

No matter what I've ordered, the soup has never been less than tasty, and sometimes it's terrific. It's served in four sizes, 8 to 32 ounces, and prices depend on variety. For example, the smallest serving of chicken potpie is $3.95; the largest is $9.65. For lobster bisque, the range is $4.50 to $11.65.

Among those I've tried, the white chicken chili, seafood chowder, and wild mushroom barley were clear winners; the hearty vegetable beef and corkscrew chicken were more ordinary.

Zoup! also has a decent selection of sandwiches, wraps, and salads, often offered in combination with the soup.

The chicken ranch sandwich, with chicken strips, scallions, romaine, avocado, tomatoes, and ranch dressing on ciabatta bread is one I'd order time and again. The vegetable with provolone, with avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, provolone cheese, romaine, and cucumber/dill tzatziki sauce, is forgettable. A

companion who loves tuna salad (I don't) says the version at Zoup!, with lemon and capers, is a winner. Sandwiches are all priced at $3.95 for a half, $5.95 for a whole.

Other winners are the Sonoma salad, with romaine, spring mix, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and sliced almonds topped with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and the Asian salad, with romaine, chow mein noodles, Asian noodles, sliced almonds, grilled chicken strips, scallions, sesame seeds, and sesame dressing. The salad list also includes, Greek, chicken Caesar, tuna, Baja chicken, and the fairly ordinary American farm. All are $3.95 for a half, $5.95 for a whole, and if they don't include chicken, it can be added for $1.50.

Soups and salads are served with a multigrain, sourdough, or French bread roll, fresh and addictive. Desserts include cellophane-wrapped cookies and brownies.

The restaurant offers several tables and booths in a brightly lit room that's painted in cheerful colors. It's pleasant enough, but I prefer the comfort of my own kitchen to enjoy the hearty soups and sandwiches that Zoup! supplies.

Contact Bill of Fare at:

fare@theblade.com



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