Sampler at The Original
Soup to Nuts
I suppose that we’ve been friends long enough that I can share with you my seasonal affliction, brought on by the plunging temperatures and darker days of autumn. Yes, dear reader, when this time of year rolls around, The Sampler is afflicted with S.A.D., Soup Appetite Disorder, which causes me to long for whole hot vats and steaming cauldrons full of soup—a deep-seated need for the soup of life itself.
Luckily for me, there has been a return from the ghostly restaurant past of a local favorite, Soup to Nuts, which has existed in at least three different locations/iterations at various times during recent history. The most recent occurrence is near the Acorn Cottage, hidden down off Honeysuckle Lane in Nashville.
There’s a lot more than soup, of course.
Sandwiches include a honey-baked ham and cheese, all white-meat chicken salad, and smoked turkey and Swiss—available on sourdough or multi-grain rolls. Best of all is the hickory-smoked pulled pork sandwich, (served naked—sauce it your own way) from a tantalizing variety provided. I like the Sweet Baby Ray’s original. The pork is smoked right out back then baked for ten or twelve hours until it’s melt-in-your-mouth good. I mean, seriously, it might be addictive. Someone should look into that. You can have the pulled pork stuffed into a bread boule or on top of a steaming baked potato with cheddar cheese.
They offer a baked potato with the more traditional accoutrements: butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese. Or you can get the “Big Brown County ’Tater” packed with butter, baked beans, pulled pork, cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, and fresh Jalapenos.
There’s a good Angus quarter pound hamburger, and a black bean veggie burger. There’s the iconic chili cheese dog, immortalized in song by local hero John Mellencamp. The Original Soup to Nuts is the home of the “Hot Rod Dog,” a quarter pound dog smothered with—well, you guessed it—baked beans, pulled pork, cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, and fresh Jalapenos.
There’s a great “Soup-er Combo” of a cup of soup (which is a very generously sized, if Styrofoam, cup), a sandwich, and a drink at a very reasonable price.
I had the turkey and Swiss and a bowl of chili. My kitchen companion cleverly opted for the barbecue and the corn chowder.
The sandwich was first rate, on a multi-grain roll with lettuce and tomato, but it was the soup I was after—and it did not disappoint.
“This soup is so good you don’t need crackers,” said Mrs. Sampler. She was having the creamy and delicious corn chowder, whereas I was having the chili. No matter how good the chili is, it’s better with crackers. The chili was hearty and well balanced; tangy but not too spicy.
My better half was kind enough to share a few bites of the pork, having long since learned that no matter what, I’m always going to end up wanting whatever it was she got. It was delicious.
I chatted with the cook (and owner), Christine, who assures me this is the “Original” Soup to Nuts, which is actually the name of the restaurant, “The Original Soup To Nuts,” referencing the Back-to-Back Complex days.
The word on the street is, she can’t make the soup fast enough. Last weekend she blew through ten gallons of potato soup like it was nothing. The mushroom soup has acquired a fanatic knot of devotees who may need watching.
I quizzed her about the probabilities on my soup horizon and learned that there’s enough variety in store to see me through the dark cold days when my condition flares up and my only solace is soup. She said she’ll have chili ever day, and also generally one cream soup, and one broth type soup. There was fine talk of a butternut squash and bacon soup, a BLT soup, and luscious, tempting, lobster bisque.
There were a few tidbits for the sweet tooth lingering up on the counter—some cling-wrapped cake or something looking homemade and delectable.
But I was sated.
My regular readers will easily guess what my final question of the evening would be.
“Where’s the nuts?” I asked the ever-skeptical Mrs. Sampler. “Sure, the soup is good, but if I come to a place called….” Here she started mouthing the words along with me silently, “Soup to Nuts, I expect to eat soup AND nuts.”
“Well, maybe you’ve got it all wrong,” said Mrs. Sampler with a smile, “Maybe, it’s the cook saying, ‘I’m feeding soup to nuts.’”
A long pause while I absorbed this answer.
Then she added, helpfully, “You’re nuts!”
It was not just a good answer—I found it profoundly satisfying.