Comfort food in a rush – La Soupe to open a soup bar in REDI

Fast food cooked patiently over several hours from the seasons’ best ingredients? Once La Soupe opens for business at the REDI in Kalasatama in 2018, the customers of the shopping centre and the residents of the tower blocks alike will get to enjoy delicious soup without a wait.

Born and bred in Monaco but currently residing in Helsinki, Mikael Uhtio realised his long-time dream a bit more than a year ago by opening his own restaurant on Eerikinkatu, Helsinki.

“I got the idea for a soup restaurant one day two years ago when I was hungry and in a hurry. I heated up some soup at home in a paper take-away cup and took it with me in the metro. While slurping it down, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to start a soup bar where people could pick up a quick meal on their lunch break.”

And so it was that, in the autumn of 2015, he opened his soup bar, La Soupe. The idea behind the restaurant is simple: to serve a wide range of soups in different sized paper bowls. Before opening his place, Uhtio was excitedly trying out different flavours: ”Some soups were instant hits – other flavour combinations just simply didn’t work.”

The soups at La Soupe are prepared from the ground up using traditional recipes, and Mikael Uhtio is constantly on the lookout for new flavours. The menu, comprising over 20 soups, follows a 3-week cycle, and there are also tasty quiches on offer.

“Customers have praised our soups for being filling but not causing them to feel stuffed or sleepy.”

Soup for lunch or a family dinner

In 2018, La Soupe is going to open a new soup bar at the trendy shopping and entertainment centre REDI in the Kalasatama area of Helsinki. Mikael Uhtio was fascinated by REDI already back when he started his business in central Helsinki.

“For me, a soup bar is a perfect fit for a busy shopping centre: a bowl of soup is an easy and inexpensive meal to have while taking a quick break from shopping. And the residents of the REDI Towers can fetch some soup for home.”

There are only a few tables at the Eerikinkatu branch of La Soupe.

“There are plenty of offices nearby, and 70% of our customers want a take-away. During lunch hour, our customers are largely business types. After working hours, people often swing by to pick up soup for the whole family.”

Healthy and tasty home-cooking

Mikael Uhtio is happy that people seem to care more about what they eat. La Soupe only uses fresh and – as much as possible – locally sourced ingredients. All La Soupe soups are also gluten- and lactose-free.

“It is very important to me that in addition to being delicious and healthy, our soups are also ecological. Soup is good and inexpensive fast-food – the prices start from five euros – but we start cooking the broths already the day before. We let our soups simmer for 8–10 hours. The secret of our intensive flavours is in a base made of quality ingredients.”

The founder of the soup bar keeps an avid eye on new trends in the world of soup.

“We vary our menu according to the season. In the autumn, we make pumpkin soup from seasonal ingredients, and a warm bowl of goulash warms the tummy nicely in the cold of winter. There is something very homely about soup – it is the perfect comfort food.”

Customer favourites include spicy chicken soups, such as the Indian chicken soup and the chicken and coconut soup. Vegetable soups also sell like hot cakes. One of the owner’s personal favourites is a warming bone broth – based on granny’s recipe, of course.

“My grandmother used to make this amazingly tasty, clear soup out of bones. You can drink bone broth just like that, but it works equally well as boiling water for pasta. It is one of my favourite flavours from my childhood.”

Why REDI, Mikael Uhtio?

  1. “Soup is delicious, healthy and fast food for people on their lunch break as well as for busy shoppers. There are also a lot of people living in Kalasatama and the surrounding area who can grab some soup after work to take home for the family. It is also easy to come by from the flats in the new REDI Towers to fetch some soup for home.”
  2. “I like the concept of REDI, the idea of offering new experiences to the people of Helsinki and the opportunity to create a fresh new urban image. Just like REDI, La Soupe wants to be a pioneer of new trends. I find the urban culture fascinating: people are health-conscious, and even though they are busy, they want to eat good nutritious food.”
  3. “REDI is located at a passenger hub, and there is a metro stop inside the shopping centre. A huge number of people come to REDI on a daily basis. I want to maintain the high quality of my soups even as the number of customers soars.”