ZIP code 75208 just got a new soup delivery service. Chef and founder of Oak Cliff Soup Co., Dina Light-McNeely, trained as a classic French chef "in the old school apprentice style," but her soup career actually started when she was about 6 years old. Her mom tells the story that pint-sized Dina picked some not-quite-ripe carrots out of the ground, maybe washed them off (but probably not very well), then tossed them in a pot with water, gave it a solid stirring, then served her first pot of muddy carrot soup.
Light-McNeely's foraging and culinary techniques have progressed significantly since then, for better or worse (that soup probably had great character). However, after putting her cooking career on the back burner for a few decades, this week she relaunched it via the Oak Cliff Soup Co.
Using Bolsa Mercado's kitchen, Light-McNeely is foraging from different gardens around North Texas, including the football field garden at Paul Quinn College and Tom Spicer's FM 1410 to make from-scratch soup. Soon she'll add chicken-based soups to the menu using poultry from Windy Meadow Farms.
"I'm trying to do my best working with different local sources. Graham Dodds is a good friend, and he's been helping me find a lot of those contacts," Light-McNeely said.
I mentioned an impending arctic front that the Texas Storm Chasers blog teased us with this morning -- good soup weather.
"I already saw that too. I can't wait. Please let winter happen," she said.
As far as staring a new business, a food delivery service at that, Light-McNeely is jumping right into it -- more like cannonballing. "It's happened really fast. It's all come together in just a few weeks," she said, even though she's been making soup all her life.
As for starting her own small business, "Everything has been a whirlwind, but you just do it. Whatever comes up, you just deal with it."
Light-McNeely makes all of her soups from scratch with as many local and organic ingredients as possible. The soup is delivered in 32-ounce containers and cost around $13. The weekly menu will be driven by what's in season.
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Each Monday a new menu (usually three soups) is posted online. Customers place orders online by midnight Wednesday. Light-McNeely then cooks on Thursday, delivers to the 75208 ZIP code on Friday, or customers can get their soup at Bolsa Mercado (634 W. Davis St.) between 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Light-McNeely said that Oak Cliff Soup's delivery area might expand at some point, but that depends on how business goes.
This week's soup menu includes kale and white bean with Bolsa Mercado sausage; creamy organic butternut squash; and kale and white bean with FM 1410 mushrooms and peppers.
Probably not as good as a 6-year-old's muddy carrot soup, but it'll do.