Soup, mmm mmm yum
9222 Kingston Pike
(near the corner of Cedar Bluff and Kingston Pike)
West Knoxville, TN
On my way to back from working in Asheville, North Carolina, and after dining in really excellent restaurants in Asheville, I wasn't ready to give into the typical fast-food available on the highways across the USA. Luckily, as myself and a co-worker were approaching the lunchtime hour, we were closing in on Knoxville, TN where I heard of the Soup Kitchen Express for years. I decided that I would like to go there for a little TLC and a break from the road. The Soup Kitchen Express is less than 1 mile south off off I-40 at the Cedar Bluff Blvd exit in TN. It was so easy to get to. We took the exit off the highway heading south on Cedar Bluff Blvd, cross over Kingston Pike, and take the very 1st right into the parking lot of the strip mall.
It was grey, cool and stormy day in East Tennessee, and it was wearing me out driving in those conditions and nothing sounded better than a bowl of hot soup to take the damp chill off the day. We got in the restaurant, and I noticed it is cafeteria style. Standing in line, there was a cool case with salads in it, but there appeared that these were not a popular item on this rainy day. It seemed that if you get a bowl of soup, you can get a giant piece of bread or a really great old fashioned grilled cheese made with white American cheese on white bread. If you want reduced fat soy cheese on whole grain wheat bread, you are out of luck. The elderly couple sitting next to us opted for the giant piece of bread each, and they only managed to eat part of one chunk of bread. The gentleman called over an employee and told her that the bread portion was way too big, and they could save a little money by cutting down the size of the bread they give each patron.
There were about 8 or 9 different soups offered this day. One woman behind the counter said that the soups were made fresh daily. It is possible the soup base might be canned veggie, chicken or beef stock, but the veggies looked like fresh and hand cut, and the veggies did have crispness to the tooth that suggested fresh veggies are used in the soup. I could not decide on just one soup, so they let me have two half bowls at the cost of one bowl. I got a veggie bean in veggie tomato stock, and a cream based seafood chowder. To accompany these 2 fine soups, I got the great old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich. That sandwich was toasty on the outside and oozy good on the inside. I could imagine this is what kids ate with delight in the 1960s and 1970s. I ate it first, never stopping to dunk it into my soup. My veggie bean soup, although all veggie, was quite hearty with a tomato soup base that seemed to mimic the classic combo of the grilled cheese and tomato soup combo that Campbell's had promoted for many years. The seafood chowder was good too, but by the time I got to eating it after the grilled cheese and veggie bean soup, I was already full. I am already working on my next strategy on how to order the perfect soup and grilled cheese lunch. It may be a small side salad, grilled cheese and a half bowl of soup. Believe me, this is going to be a regular stop for me when I am traversing the state of Tennessee from east to west or west to east and I find myself near Knoxville around the lunch hour.