Waiter, there's WHAT in my soup?

When I'm in an area and can't find an appealing independent purveyor of fast eats, Au Bon Pain is typically a favorite choice of mine. They're clean, fast, friendly, and their food is made of, well, food. They have lots of great made-to-order salads, wraps and sandwiches, and they have such options as imported cheeses (all unprocessed), cucumbers, sundried tomatoes, avocados, grilled portabellas, roasted peppers, olive tapenade, and, as the name implies, a number of fresh homemade breads from which to choose.

The place is particularly liked by many of my fellow vegetarians because it has so many interesting vegetarian options. It isn't meat-centered like many sandwich shops tend to be. Also, all of the packaged salads and wraps are labeled with all of their ingredients, the made-to-order sandwiches only contain what you ask for and don't have any default "special sauces" or anything on them, and the staff are very aware and willing to grab you the label from the mayonnaise or soup or tortillas to tell you exactly what is in it.

The thing I find really disappointing, especially given that the place tends to be centered around fresh, whole foods, is that most of their soups have meat ingredients in them. Granted they do have a good vegetarian chili and a good vegetarian lentil soup, as well as the boring, overpriced generic "vegetable" soup. But they also have a corn chowder -- a common vegetarian staple -- that contains bacon. I've almost always found corn chowder to be vegetarian, even at places like truck stops and concession stands and hospital cafeterias. They also tend to use meat broth in several of their vegetable soups. On a typical day, they will have five or six soups at the larger locations, and some days there won't even be one vegetarian option. Other days there might be one vegetarian soup, one meat soup like chicken noodle or beef stew, and three soups that do not contain meat, but are rendered nonvegetarian by chicken or beef broth. Or pieces of bacon.


Jodie said...

Smaller locations suck for vegetarian options.

eeka said...

Oh, totally. The ones with only a couple soups have like clambaconbeef stew or something every day.