Early this fall, a Soup Goddess shop sprung up in the Burbank media district, becoming the area’s go-to spot for comforting, plant-based soups. Though the store was new, it marked the next phase of a vegan soup business that started simmering for Lizzie Meyer over a year ago.
Before converting the storefront to Soup Goddess, Lizzie had been operating there as an I Love Juice Bar franchisee. With her passion for healthy foods and creating recipes, she was also making soups and offering them on a special menu alongside the juice bar’s fresh juices and smoothies. “People were coming in our store when it was so hot outside, and they kept asking for soup,” Lizzie recalled. “My son said, ‘You’re like a soup goddess, Mom!’”
As the soups grew more popular, Lizzie’s oldest son Dillon Meyer and his girlfriend Gianna DiDonato helped spin off Soup Goddess into a separate business last fall, selling three or four varieties of jarred soups across nine local farmers markets. With her soups gaining momentum and the juice bar losing business to a new Whole Foods up the street, it was a logical step for Lizzie to reinvent her shop and establish a fixed location for Soup Goddess.
“I can’t tell you how many people stop in because they’re excited to see soup,” said Lizzie. “They ignore the whole vegan part of it and just come in because it says soup!”
To live up to such enthusiasm, the new grab-and-go eatery offers 15 varieties of soup, plus sandwiches, salads, and an array of novelty dishes—all of which are vegan. Several soup selections carry the appeal of popular flavors, such as the Pot Pie, Mushroom Heaven, French Onion, Broccoli Cheddah, and T-Basil. But instead of using dairy, creaminess is achieved with ingredients made from cashews, almonds, or coconuts. A few gazpachos offer cold alternatives, including Wa-wa-watermelon and Avocado Mint.
Soup Goddess soups are densely concentrated with vegetables and packed with flavor, borrowing from some of the produce-pulverizing techniques that Lizzie mastered with the juice bar business. Thanks to top-of-the-line extractors, she can easily remove skins and seeds or liquefy vegetables to use as natural soup sweeteners.
A mirepoix, or flavor base, of carrots, onions, and celery goes into almost every soup. “The way I caramelize it, and the way I make it and spice it up is what builds each one of these soups,” Lizzie explained.
In the mornings, you might catch the staff chopping away at fresh produce that was delivered moments ago. Mounds of diced veggies get tossed around in pans before they fulfill their soupy destiny inside the towering stock pots simmering on stove burners.
Because customers often stop by to pick up a soup for lunch at the office or for dinner on the way home, Lizzie crafts each soup to be filling and satisfying. “They want a soup, they want it to be good for them, but they don’t want to be hungry an hour later,” she said. “I put a lot of asparagus in my soups, a lot of cauliflower. I think it may actually be too much produce, but I want it to taste good.”
Ingredients like lentils, beans, potatoes, or broccoli also add substance to individual soups. The Chili is a popular hearty choice, packed with five different beans and fresh ground pumpkin.
Another nourishing option brimming with seven vegetables is the Cabbage Fit Soup, which at only 85 calories per serving, is also the cornerstone of a weight-loss and detox diet that has been well received by customers from nearby offices. “You’re not starving yourself, you’re not hungry. So you don’t have those pangs. And then you’re doing your body a really good deed,” Lizzie said.
Recognizing that the appeal of soup is often driven by health conditions, Lizzie can offer simple vegetable broths or create customized orders in small batches on request. With so many soups that are comforting and easy to eat, Soup Goddess is a happy find for those who’ve recently had dental work or who can’t handle coarse foods or certain ingredients.
“It’s good for ailments, too, so that’s the kind of thing that I’m focused on, trying to reach people for health aspects,” said Lizzie.
As a health-conscious vegan with three active sons to feed, Lizzie spent many years crafting recipes with items that were easy to find in grocery stores. Now she can feature more of these dishes at Soup Goddess, mixing and matching a range of flavors and textures that pair well with soup. In addition to the salads, sandwiches, and wraps are items that sound indulgent without the guilt, such as nacho chips, cheesy potatoes, and cheesy pasta. The menu continues to evolve as Lizzie comes up with new creations, including Italian tacos, pizza rolls, and chocolaty breakfast oats.
The brazen names for many of the dishes—the Skinny Ass-paragus soup, the K-Booty pasta salad, and the Bae-rito burrito, to name a few—convey an attitude that resonates with young workers from nearby entertainment offices. The hashtag #VeganAF written in large letters on the window also reflects the lighthearted atmosphere inside. Regulars enjoy the energy and welcoming vibe that greets them when they visit Soup Goddess. “For me, it’s not just about what we’re serving, it’s also about how we’re serving it,” Lizzie said.
At the shop, the soups are sold in 16 or 32-ounce mason jars, and other menu items are conveniently packaged to go. You can pick up a refrigerated jar of soup to enjoy later or request a warm jar to devour right away. Though the store isn’t currently set up for dine-in service, a bar counter along the window offers space to enjoy your meal on the spot. And if you bring your jar back for recycling, Soup Goddess will apply credit toward your next purchase.
You can also find Soup Goddess jars on the shelves of three independent grocery stores across LA: Rainbow Acres in Marina Del Rey, Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park, and Handy Market in Burbank. Though Lizzie had to leave the farmers markets during the transition to open the store, she has since brought Soup Goddess back to the Malibu and La Cañada farmers markets, and she aims to return to more next year.
One of the underlying motivations that pulled Lizzie into the food business was to make healthy foods more available, but an even broader aspiration for Soup Goddess is declared in its slogan: “Feed the world!” True to this cause, the team regularly works with charities to feed the homeless and those in need, setting aside time to serve their soup at places such as the Midnight Mission shelter in downtown Los Angeles. Last month, Soup Goddess fed Malibu residents who lost their homes in the destruction of the Woolsey Fire.
“That’s actually very gratifying. And it’s one of the reasons why I really want this to spread. Not for me to get credit, but to help and support people who need it,” said Lizzie.