There is a chain of restaurants known as Soupplantation &Sweet Tomatoes that are well established over many of the western states, mid-west, some of the southern states (48 restaurants in Florida!) . . . and, being a chain, they all feature the same basic menu, which changes certain features on a regular basis.
Mark Evanier, who runs the blog, newsfromme.com, has raved about the Classic Creamy Tomato Soup. I have eaten at Soupplantation maybe three times in my life; then they moved into the town where I live, Escondido, California. I've been there, perhaps four times since they moved here.
Tonight, I decided to try Mark's recommendation of the Classic Creamy Tomato Soup.
Verily, verily, I say unto you. Mark does not speak with forked tongue. He doth speak the Truth.
Classic Creamy Tomato Soup is out of this world. To compare Classic Creamy Tomato Soup to something like Campbell's Tomato Soup is kinda like comparing a Monet to an Etch-A-Sketch. The Classic Creamy Tomato Soup is, like all of Soupplantation's soups, made from scratch daily, using absolutely fresh tomatoes. The soup has bits of tomato in it . . . so much so that it's almost crunchy. It is NOT a tomato broth. It is a rich, hearty tomato soup that is the best I've ever tasted.
I took note of the fact that you can buy soups to go. A Quart for about $6.49. I didn't do that as I figured we'd probably have to freeze some of it . .. though we do go through soups fairy quickly in this here house.
I thought of going back for seconds and thirds but, out of a sense of loyalty, I opted to have my second bowl of Chicken Noodle (tasty thick noodles, with huge portions of chicken, cooked in a tasty chicken broth); my third bowl was my beloved Clam Chowder. There were several other soups I was tempted to try but, no, I went back for my fourth bowl and, once again, dined like a King, having another bowl of Classic Creamy Tomato Soup.
I would reckon that a fella could go in and pay his $7.99 (with discount coupons; normally $9.99) and bypass the salad bar and just head right for the soup kitchen. They have eight different soups from which to choose. They had black bean chili, your standard hearty chili, a rice and bean soup. the clam chowder, the chicken noodle, and one or two others that I don't recall. I think I could easily have an entire meal of nothing but soup and would likely lean toward feasting on Classic Creamy Tomato Soup, with only one or two bowls of Chicken Noodle, for variety. (The word 'bowl" is a bit misleading. I would call them more "cups" of soup; probably about 6-8 ounces max. When I have a "bowl" of soup, it is a large bowl because . . well, I just love soup!)
The only problem with places like Soupplantation is that they are a buffet restaurant, which means all you care to eat; the food is all outstanding . . . made fresh every day. There is a tendency to overeat . . . not only because you want to get your money's worth . . . but more because you see the quality of the food and you want to have a bit of this, a bit of that, and pretty soon, you have a full salad plate, several bakery items, several soups, several drinks, and ice cream or yogurt, or some other dessert. Bottom line? You eat too much.
I do believe next time we go I'm going to bypass the salad bar and head right for the soup kitchen; I enjoyed it that much.
If there is a Soupplantation in your state . . . head in that direction. (You can find out where they are located by going here: http://www.souplantation.com/locations/)
Mark has conducted a one-man campaign to make Classic Creamy Tomato Soup a regular item on the menu, unsuccessfully so far. They only feature it during certain months. Currently, all of March will feature the item so bring your appetite and enjoy!