By Jayson Merkley
Prowling the sidewalks of historic downtown Pocatello, pondering the rich history and culture there, a person can get awfully hungry. Luckily Bouillon Soup and Catering Co. is there to add its own richness.
Bouillon Soup, located at 302 E. Center Street, is just the place to kick back, relax, and enjoy some fantastic soup after a long day in class. One of the first things to notice is a refreshing lack of formality and conformity. At any given table, it is quite a challenge to find two pieces of matching silverware, or two matching bowls, or two chairs with the same design.
Owner Tom Cashin described the chaotic process of furnishing his restaurant as organic growth.
"Everything you see here is fully functional," Cashin added. "We're not trying to set a style. If you try to be random then you won't be random."
The decorative chaos lends itself to Bouillon Soup's distinguishing atmosphere. In one section of the dining area, a customer can sit halfway between a modern wall decoratively covered in chairs, and an antique soda fountain counter. The building itself has undergone several transformations since its opening in 1914, according to Cashin. It was once a bank, a drug store, a real estate office, and a bagel shop.
While the unusual historic atmosphere of the dining area may make one feel at home, there is nothing chaotic about the food, which is a refreshing change from the humdrum soup and sandwiches from the kitchen of a typical college student. Nothing at Bouillon Soup is pre-made or even pre-cut. All foods are made from scratch, by hand, with fresh ingredients without interference from processing machines.
All recipes are Cashin's own creations. He has cooked for some 26 years in more than 40 different restaurants. He estimates that in the six years Bouillon Soup has been in business, he has created over one thousand soup flavors. He says that many of his ideas for soups leap out at him while shopping at the farmer's market or supermarket, seeing what's fresh and available.
"You can make soup out of just about anything. It's great," Cashin said.
But don't hope to learn just what he puts into your favorite recipe.
"My new employees are always surprised by just how simple my recipes are when they are being trained," he said. "I think when you find out what goes into the soup it loses some of its magic and mystique."
Cashin says that Bouillon Soup also offers the best variety for vegan and vegetarian foods in Pocatello. As a general policy, they usually offer at least two vegetarian soups and two purely vegan soups.
"When people think of vegetarian dishes they assume something is missing," Cashin said. "But when people eat my vegetarian soups they don't find any lack of substance." For the more omnivorously inclined, Bouillon Soup also has a variety of meaty fare.
But for college students, perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to dining is cost. Cashin says that one of the biggest draws is the fact that Bouillon Soup offers healthy food at fast food prices.
So for those looking for a healthy, inexpensive, and relaxed place to come in out of the cold this fall, try warming your belly with some Bouillon Soup.