Santa Fe isn't exactly a mecca for early adopters. We're still in the nascent stages of the cupcake craze that hit the coastal cities in the early aughts; we have yet to use weird contraptions to brew ever-more-artisanal coffee; and the whole Pinkberry thing appears to have passed us by entirely.---
And yet, a recent visit to Sup, the modernist-looking soup joint on the corner of St. Francis Drive and West Cordova Road, nearly disproved my whole theory. Open just two weeks at the time I visited, the place was packed, a line of eager diners snaking through the diminutive dining room, inhaling the blessed scent of mulligatawny.
This, however, was not the end of my Twilight Zone-esque trip to Santa Fe-as-big-city: While my man-friend and I stood in line weighing our options, a friendly, dapper man sauntered up with an iPhone.
"If you're paying with a credit card, I'll take your order right now," he said, flashing the little attachment that would quickly, handily scan my card.
We were sold (literally); six minutes later, we sauntered out the door with two "little boxes"—one containing a cup of green chile stew and half a sandwich, the other holding beef stew and a thick slice of house-made bacon sour cream bread.
The process was quick, painless and relatively cheap—$16.12, including tax—which is pretty much exactly what I look for in lunchtime dining. Eagerly, we dug in.
For a Santa Fe-based restaurant that calls itself Sup (pronounced "soup"), my green chile stew was disappointing. Despite having all the right elements (read: plenty of meat and real green chile), it was bland; man-friend compared it to cardboard. I didn't finish it—which, for me, is rare.
But the sandwich, a simple turkey-and-greens affair on fluffy, house-made dill sour cream bread, was great; the beef stew was divine. Rich, hearty and deeply savory, it provided our meal's crowning glory.
With less than a month under its belt and more than 80 soups on its master list (with nutrition information for each of them available online at eatsoup.net), Sup will likely have some smashing successes and comparative failures. But it bears every mark of a well-conceived, skillfully executed business plan—which, in a way, is what it is.
"It's a prototype, a test restaurant," Brooke Lange, wife of Sup CEO Andrew Hoffman and the restaurant's public relations arm, tells me. "We have an expansion plan."
Hoffman, she explains, previously owned similar, soup-based restaurants in Aspen, Colo., and Kansas City, Mo. "He's always had it in the back of his mind" to re-enter the business, she says; if it works, they'll consider taking Sup to Albuquerque and beyond.
I bring up the subject of Sup's containers. They're plastic No. 5, which means Santa Fe County won't recycle them. We talk briefly about the challenge that presents and then hang up.
Three minutes later, Hoffman calls back.
"The containers we do have are reusable and microwaveable, and that's one of the reasons we got them," he explains. "The better option for us, if we're going to put soup in it, is Styrofoam, but Styrofoam isn't reusable."
The restaurant takes recyclable cardboard boxes and trays to the Buckman Road Recycling & Transfer Station daily, Hoffman adds.
"We're trying as best as we can to be responsible," he says. "I've talked to a lot of people in the restaurant who mention, 'Why don't you this or that?' Well, we're trying to do better than most."
559 W Cordova Road, 819-5775
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday