It was sweltering yesterday as I walked up from the Free Street parking garage to Monument Square. As I'm on my way to meet Mike and Sarah Jerome of Kamasouptra I keep thinking it's too hot for soup. It was the perfect day for the Portland Farmers' Market though which was winding down as I opened the doors to the Public Market House. As I crest the stairs to the second floor and take a look around I am forced to reconsider. I should know better by now; there are no bad days for soup.
What was once only a wholesale business in the basement of the Market House has burgeoned into a restaurant space, and a very attractive one at that. The open kitchen is picturesque and inviting. I was so wrong before, I was craving soup at this point. Fiending might be a more apt description. There was a list of 9 soups on that board, 6 of them vegan, and I wanted at 'em. The most difficult decision now was which to try first.
There was a vegan interpretation of a Scotch Broth made with a touch of lavender. Or should I try the gazpacho? Cool soup. Hot day. Logical, right? There was also a potato and fennel offering, crafted with just the right amount of fennel as to not be abusive, coming on subtly at the end. All were delicate, well crafted, and finely balanced.
Standouts for me ended up being the Maple Spiced Sweet Potato which is a right proper mix of sweet, savory, and heat; and the Chilled Fiddlehead and Rhubarb, of which I consumed a whole bowl. It took a minute to get my head around the idea of pairing fiddleheads and rhubarb, not that I felt that they were disperate flavors, just that I had never seen them employed together. It was indeed a pleasant surprise that they worked so well together. It was definitely the highlight of my visit. The ingredients were sourced right at the Farmers' Market that day and the freshness was evident. Look for the recipe to be posted here, generously offered to us by the creator, Mike Jerome, in the near future.
After chatting with Mike for a bit I was all the more behind their soup and mission. He's intent on letting fresh ingredients speak for themselves and believes it's really the vegetables and herbs that make the flavors we love, and that the meat is actually quite superfluous. He's obviously passionate. After having trained in 5 star restaurants it was actually The Soup Peddler of Austin, TX that set him on his way to soup dominance here in Portland. Soup as art? I'm with it. Check out Kamasouptra at Public Market House, 28 Monument Square in Portland.