The Original Soup Man can be found in 'frozen'
I go way back with Al Yeganeh. Yeganeh, the elusive Soup Man who once caused people to line up on 55th Street near Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, has in recent years branched out into franchises and sales of five frozen soup flavors at King Kullen under the moniker The Original SoupMan.
Curious about the relaunch of frozen soups, in microwavable bowls instead of pouches, I went to a tasting of lobster bisque and tomato basil at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
The welcoming aroma of lobster bisque nearly stifled the casino scents of cigarette smoke and room freshening products as I walked toward the Soup Man concession. I looked around for Yeganeh but saw only a near-life-sized cardboard cutout of him.
Bob Bertrand, chief financial officer of the Soup Man company, said that he had never met Yeganeh. Arnold Casale, president, has not met him. Lloyd Sugarman, owner of the Johnny Rocket's chain and the Mohegan Sun location, has not met Yeganeh, either.
Seb Remetto, SoupMan executive vice president, has met Yeganeh. I have, too. In 1997, he called and offered me an exclusive interview. This was after the "Seinfeld" show that parodied him as a "Nazi" and after the original International Soup Kitchen, a takeout shop, got a higher rating than Le Cirque 2000 in the Zagat Survey, 27 points to the sit-down restaurant's 25.
Back then, Yeganeh wanted to get out the message that he was not "mean," just misunderstood. His simple rules, authoritarian to some, were intended to make the line move faster: Have your money ready, place your order, move to the extreme left. How hard is that?
In the recent tasting, the lobster bisque took me back to the days when I braved cold winds to stand in line. Maybe it tasted a little better then, because it was harder to get, but this was close enough. (Broccoli and cheese, Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs and chicken vegetable are the other flavors.)
Have your money ready ($3.49 each; bisque $4.49), OriginalSoupMan .com.
SPICY BEEF AND TOMATO PASTA
You can stretch the soup into a pasta dish for two.
1/2 pound ground beef
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
1/2 pound penne, cooked
1 (10-ounce) package tomato basil soup
1. Brown beef in a skillet and add a few red pepper flakes and a little salt, if desired.
2. Add penne and soup and cook until heated through. Makes 2 servings.
1 pound linguine or other pasta of your choice
1 (10-ounce) package seafood bisque
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat soup. Add to pasta, toss, and if there is not quite enough sauce, add a few tablespoons of cooking water. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Makes 4 servings.