I’m in Love with The Soup Peddler
I love soup. I think it might be my favorite food. Any kind of soup. Warm, homey, economical, healthy. Soup is good for you. I have a new local celebrity chef crush. I must confess that I am in love with the soup peddler.
The Soup Peddler is an Austin, Texas based, home delivery catering service founded in 2002. It is the brain-child of David Ansel, a transplant from Brooklyn who followed a girlfriend here in 1998 and then lost both the girlfriend and his job. Ansel is a former tech worker who turned into a yoga instructor and massage therapist. He didn’t make enough money with his career change to eek out a living. In desperation, with only $60 in his bank account, he sent an email to neighborhood friends.
The email promised homemade soup for ten dollars. He promised to deliver it that Sunday and to deliver it using his bike. Seventeen people initially responded. Thus, The Soup Peddler (pun intended) was born.
Ansel was inspired by the slow food movement. His initial soup offerings were all vegetarian fare. When he began The Soup Peddler he had limited cooking experience but was determined to produce a healthful product that brought families back to the dining table.
A trip to Mexico in his youth gave him an ethic to aspire to years later. David was struck with the contrast between the Mexican culture’s street food vendors making homemade gorditas and the food fare north of the border. All the American options were fast food restaurants where the food was not fresh or even local. The seed of an idea began to germinate.
What started out as an unofficial home business quickly grew, and in a matter of weeks he had twenty-four regular customers and had outgrown his kitchen. David made a deal with a local Thai restaurant owner to use his kitchen to make his soup at night, while the restaurant was closed. He doubled his customers in the first year of business.
In September of 2005, he published his cookbook and slow food manifesto, The Soup Peddler’s Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries. This brought The Soup Peddler a certain amount of notoriety, and Ansel was able to expand his menu beyond soup.
He grew his business with the use of refrigerated trucks in addition to the bicycle delivery. The Soup Peddler had his own kitchens and business offices in the fashionable 78704 neighborhood of South Austin. David had hired employees to do the cooking and manage different aspects of the business for him.
Today The Soup Peddler offers a full menu selection of not only soups but also main dishes, salads, casseroles, and desserts. The bicycles have been entirely replaced by refrigerated trucks. Ansel no longer makes the soup all by himself but does a lot of traveling to exotic locales. The food he ingests on these trips influences his company’s menu.
The Soup Peddler has a huge community presence, sponsoring several charity events. Ansel also communicates directly with his customers and fans through his Facebook page, his blog, and field trips to farms with fans. He believes in keeping it local and in giving back to the town that feeds him by donating five percent of associated Soup Peddler purchases to schools and non-profits.
The Soup Peddler is Jewish, which means he’s clipped, a must. Plus, he’s cute. He blogs. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s socially conscious. He’s responsible enough to own his own successful business.
I think that I could settle for Jewish in this case. We could make it work. We could compromise on the baby Jesus issue. I get Christmas, and he gives up Hanukah. I give up Easter, and he gets Passover. I love Seder meals. I will totally put out for good soup. This could be the best relationship I ever don’t have.