Grateful Bread’s tomato basil soup is like a magnificent marinara, served with chunks of house bread and fruit salad. (photo by Brian Clarey)
I have a digital thermometer in the dashboard of my car, giving a reliable readout every time I start my engine. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a tiny snowflake appears on the display, accompanied by three pleasant electronic chimes.
I am not sure what the function for this neat little piece of engineering is — perhaps it subtly affects the way the car’s engine or cooling system works — but what it invariably signals to me is that it is time for some soup.
So when I heard those delightful dings on my way to work this morning, I immediately made plans for hot soup at lunchtime. The problem, of course, was where to get it.
Sure, I could go get a can of soup from the grocery store and run it through the office microwave. Or I could hit one of the many Asian eateries near where I work — though I’ve been hitting the pho a bit too hard lately.
But I just want some plain, old soup, maybe with a little good bread on the side. And there are no places in the Triad that specialize in my favorite cold-weather comfort food.
Entrepreneurs take note! Believe me, I’ve been down this road before, and I know that there’s just one place for me on a cold day like this one, and it’s just a piece to the west near downtown High Point: the Grateful Bread.
I could go on and on here about the Grateful Bread’s sandwiches, which are fresh, creative, healthful and delicious. I could dedicate a few hundred words to their salads, which are tasty enough to induce cravings even in the most staunch of carnivores. I could, if I so chose, write full paragraphs each about their desserts, their granola, their coffee and tea. And of course, there’s the matter of their bread: baked fresh every day using local, natural ingredients, with bark-like crusts and perfect rise and very little left each day to consign to the day-old bin.
But today is all about soup, and not very fancy soup at that. Grateful Bread usually runs two soups a day, and towards the end of the lunch rush on my visit the only choice left is the tomato basil.
Oh well… tomato basil is not my favorite soup, but I’ll tale Plan B at the Grateful Bread over Plan A anywhere else in town on a cold day like this one.
The good thing about ordering soup — one of them, anyway — is that your order comes out fast. Real fast. I barely have time to pour my coffee, ground from exquisite Larry’s Beans out of Raleigh, and settle down at a Formica kitchen table that looks exactly like the one that was in my great-grandmother’s apartment kitchen before my name is called at the window.
The soup is beautiful, redolent of fresh tomatoes and just-picked basil with notes of balsamic vinegar and perhaps a hint of oregano. It holds up well with generous chunks of dense, brown bread that on warmer days could make a meal all by itself.
On the side is a portion of fruit salad that was surely chopped this very morning.
It’s a fine repast for a midwinter lunch, and before I leave I pick a big, round sunflower oatmeal loaf and a brownie for the ride back to my office, warmed against the rest of the day’s weather.
Grateful Bread 1506 N. Main St. High Point. 336.884.4424 www.gratefulbreadbaking.com