This Ukrainian Soup Is Made for Walking
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Soup is delicious, but nobody likes to wear it.
Soup requires what many of us sadly lack: time to sit down for a meal. It isn’t a friendly on-the-go option. If you’ve ever tried to eat soup while walking, you know the consequences: the splotch that always lands in a conspicuous place on your shirt, the dribble down your chin, strands of hair getting caught in it, the burn when it drips on your hand.
It’s a hot mess and what prompted a Ukrainian startup to remix the walking-with-soup experience — by serving it in a bread cup.
Across from the Golden Gate in Kiev is the walk-up window for Soupculture. It’s inconspicuous, except for the chalkboard outside featuring what soups are available: mushroom, cheese, Mexican and lentil. You’ll then see the curious and colorful ice cream cone-like bread cups through the window. What you won’t see: instructions for eating. Or a spoon, for that matter, since you’re supposed to drink the soup and eat its delicious container as you go.
The soup doesn’t seep through, the bread won’t break and your nose will avoid taking a soup bath.
There are spoons available if you’re not ready to fully embrace the concept, and I’ll admit that I did ask for one my first time. But the bread cup, which is vertically tailored to your hand like a bottle, is actually foolproof. The soup doesn’t seep through, the bread won’t break (unless you pull or bite off a chunk) and your nose will avoid taking a soup bath. The bread cups are made from natural ingredients that contribute to their coloring: fresh beetroot juice, spinach and curcuma (which produces the standard yellow cup). While each cup has a unique taste, the dominant flavor still comes from the soup.
Designing a suitable bread cup took many attempts, according to founder Kyrylo Puzenko. A major hurdle was creating dough that would not stick to the molds, and the use of clay cups covered in dough and baked in the oven yielded awful results. Work to perfect the bread cup continues, and soon, a new press oven will be able to bake two different sizes.
The mushroom soup is earthy with finely chopped ’shrooms and plenty of herby goodness. And the cheese, a best-seller, is a thick, creamy beast. Puzenko created these recipes when Soupculture launched on the Ukrainian food festival scene in 2014. Now with franchised locations outside Ukraine, in Poland and Slovakia, and plans to expand to Czechia and Belarus, there are 20 varieties of soups available, tailored to each region’s local products and traditions. The carrot-orange soup, for example, is on the menu only in Poland. In Minsk, Belarus’ national cold soup — hlodnik — will be offered. But even recipes that are available across borders may taste different, Puzenko says, because the vegetables are from local suppliers.
The soup flavors may vary, but the edible bread cup is the only way the soup will be served. The company’s culture of responsible consumption aims to “show that there are unexpected ways to make less waste,” Puzenko says, while enjoying a “healthy alternative to popular street food formats.” Not only are you getting a delicious, no-mess, travel-friendly soup for less than $2 (50 Ukrainian hryvnia), but also you’re not contributing to a landfill. It’s responsible eating that makes your belly burst with happiness. And you should consider wearing loose clothing because skimpy portions don’t exist.