The Menu – October 25
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Story and Photos by Leah Kennedy
Amidst the scurry of students making their way to class along Kincaid, heavenly aromas waft through the air. They make heads turn and mouths water. What appears to be just another food cart cropping up next to campus is much more than a small, red shed on wheels. It is the Soupe Carte of Café Blanche, a Eugene-based catering business that serves up daily soup specials 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday next to Prince Lucien Campbell Hall.
Carte Blanche has been sitting on Kincaid street for thirteen years and attracts a variety of customers with its famous soups. The cart also offers an array of sandwiches, wraps, and salads that can compliment a small cup of soup or stand on their own as a filling lunch.
All of the food for Carte Blanche is made in the company’s production kitchen in West Eugene and is delivered to the food cart just in time for lunch. While they have their standard salads and sandwiches every day, the soups are constantly changing. Chef Mark Stern has a list of 80 soups that are rotated through the daily lunch menu.
On any given day there will be four or five soups available, with their famous Three-Cheese Tomato as the only regular choice. This creamy blend of Parmesan, cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses added to everyone’s favorite tomato soup. Even first time Carte Blanche customer UO sophomore Caroline Martin couldn’t resist trying this orange concoction at lunch Wednesday.
“I was a little apprehensive at first because I’m really picky and I usually only like Campbell’s condensed,” Martin says. “But I was pleasantly surprised and it was really, really good. My favorite part was the bread that came with it because I love baguettes with soup.”
As Martin mentions, each cup of soup comes with a slice of a French baguette, which is the same bread the sandwiches are made with. Each of the cart’s four salads, ranging from a Greek salad to their classic spinach salad, also comes with a slice of bread. Still, it’s typically the soup that steals the show and keeps people coming back for more.
“I have a lot of regulars,” Carte Blanche employee Stacy Armstrong says. “Most people I don’t even have to ask what they want, I just get it. It is nice working for a small company.”
Some classic cart soups include Campfire Beef Chili and Matzo Ball, but the majority are unique and creative liquid masterpieces. One of the most original, the Blue-Velvet, combines cauliflower, potato, and bleu cheese. Other distinctive options include the Five-Spice Tofu, Thai Coconut Veggie, White Bean Pesto, and Smoked Salmon Potato Cheddar.
For a small company, Carte Blanche is able to provide a lot of food options, and with soup ranging in price from $3.50 for a cup to $5.00 for a 16-ounce large bowl, a warm lunch time treat can fit into any student’s budget.