Soft-spoken Matthew Moore is no Soup Nazi, although the wonderful broths and bisques he creates at his Souper Market (2528 Lorain Avenue, 216-737-7687) are delicious enough to justify a certain amount of arrogance. The Dayton native, whose past experience paired him with some of the area's best chefs (including Michael Tsonton at the now-defunct Tutto a Posto and Karen Small at Flying Fig), opened his little soup shop in December, near the corner of Lorain and West 25th -- an area, incidentally, that is quickly becoming home to the city's most interesting collection of eateries. "My goal was always to have a place of my own," says Moore. "When I started looking for a niche, I noticed that soup kitchens do really well in cities like New York and Chicago. So I figured I'd give it a shot in Cleveland."
The standard menu includes eight soups (six regular offerings and two weekly specials) and four salads, all packed up for carry-out, with a thick slice of Pugliese bread from the East Side's Stone Oven Bakery. There are no tables in the tiny storefront, though a narrow counter provides standing room for those in need of instant gratification. Besides the soups -- which can be had by the cup, the bowl, and the quart -- Moore sells chicken, veal, fish, and vegetable stocks for home use; his wholesale customers include the Old Angle Tavern, Flying Fig, and Fahrenheit.
Which is to say Moore is one busy fella. His day usually starts by 7:30 a.m., when he fires up his 100-gallon stockpot and his 10-gallon kettles, and commences to craft such favorites as rich lobster bisque, spicy jambalaya, and brisk tomato-ginger soup. It's all done the old-fashioned way, with slowly simmered stocks and ingredients that run the gamut from Maytag blue cheese (in the fondue-like blue-cheese soup) to porcini powder (in the earthy wild mushroom). The end products fairly shout with flavor, the popular lobster bisque being a case in point: Imbued with the essence of oven-roasted lobster bodies, fish stock, roux, and heavy cream, the bisque's pure, nutty taste is a revelation to anyone who grew up thinking that the canned stuff is mmm-mmm good.
In time, Moore plans to expand his menu and open additional locations. For now, though, Souper Market hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The kitchen is closed on Sunday.