Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Soups and Stews by Lea

I was really tired when I was at the grocery on Sunday afternoon. I spent last weekend in New Smyrna drinking Pina Coladas and Lemoncello between rumbling and tumbling in the surf. Exhausted and standing at the seafood counter deciding on a pre-packaged sushi dinner, I made the decision: I most likely won’t be cooking this week.

So on my way home from work the other night, I decided to do something I rarely do at all, none the less on a Monday evening. I stopped for takeout. I’ve driven by Soups and Stews by Lea numerous times since I moved to this side of town a few months ago. My impression at first glance was to make fun of the name. Kinda like the new Steak and Salad up on Mills. But after a few more drive bys, I started to appreciate the simplicity. Soups. Stews. Paninnis.

Midway through my day and after checking out their website, I decided that fresh soup and half of a paninni was definitely the cure for the Monday-after-a-weekend-at-the-beach blues.

The space itself is clean, well lit and seemingly comfortable although I ordered and received my food in a number of minutes.

I was offered samples of any of the daily soups and started with the Three Bean and Cabbage (which, ironically I had homemade at a friend’s house a few weeks ago). But it was bland and flat with some seriously undercooked beans. I ended up getting my second sample: Pumpkin Soup. I love the pumpkin time of year. Some of the best beers, soups and breads are available. This soup was definitely no exception. When I first sampled the soup I was struck by an unusual earthiness that accompanied the sweetness of the pumpkin. So much so that I asked about the ingredients. I was floored to learn that my arch enemy cilantro was the culprit! My favorite thing about the soup was the generous helping of black pepper. It really gave it a perfect sweet yet savory yet spicy flavor.

I’m a huge fan of the Panini and was pleasantly surprised by my options. I choose half of a Turkey Trot to go along with my soup. Again, simplicity: Turkey, Fontina, Argula, Pear. The freshness of the turkey was enhanced by the spiciness of the arugula and the creaminess of the Fontina cheese. The pears gave it just a touch of sweetness, which is why I originally ordered it with pumpkin soup. The sandwiches are pre-made and they simply press them to order. My only complaint is that the sandwich was very greasy from the butter on the Panini press. Next time I visit I’m going to try the vegetable wrap: Mascarpone cheese with dill, tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, artichokes and apples.

Check out their website at:


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