Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lots Of Soup For You

Last week we stopped by Portland's newest soup kitchen. Katie had heard there was a small place built inside a catering facility on Belmont Ave. After a few passes through the area on our way back and forth to other errands, we never seemed to find the place. Last Tuesday was different. We'd been downtown and came up Belmont all the way, making sure to look at every storefront and recessed building.
There it was, a small banner facing us that read: Alf's Soup Haus. We parked. The entry way was facing away from our direction so it would have been impossible to find the "haus" unless we saw the small sign near the street.
"You found us," the receptionist squealed while we stood there looking around. I saw another sign that read "Soup and bread $5.00 Affordable huh?" Katie began asking questions and I wandered into the main room which was more like an industrial kitchen with some tables and benches newly placed around. A large food locker was to the left and a nice chef's work station directly in front. Enter Alf. A large Swede, with red splotches on his face and a passion for soup in his demeanor.
Katie asked about his Chicken Tortilla soup and he noted that today it was fish chowder or mushroom white bean. Neither are Katie.
"I'll come back for the Chicken Tortilla," she said. "Do you make a different soup each day?"
Alf, explained that he made two or three kinds of soup every day, depending on what was available and how he felt.
"I make chile too," Alf noted. With that he took off for the big food locker. An enormous refrigerator, it enveloped him for a few minutes. He returned carrying four pints of soup each in a plastic container.
"Here's two buffalo chile and two black bean soups for you." It was a gift. Alf refused when we offered to pay and wished us well.
"Where do you get the buffalo meat," I asked. I was thinking bison and quite pleased because I enjoy a good piece of bison once every few years.
"It's water buffalo, I get it from a Russian who has a ranch in Estacada. You have to grind it up, he grinds it for me and it's good for chile."
It sure is. Great chile; a bit of zip to it and the ground meat tasted just like beef. It would fool anyone.
Katie is still waiting for the Chicken Tortilla.
Imagine that, Oregon raised water buffalo from a Russian to a Swede.
On the way home, it occurred to me that Alf was the direct opposite of the famous "soup Nazi" from Seinfeld. Instead of withholding, he's forthcoming. He's the soup Commie. "Some soup for you, lots of soup for you."

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