The Soup Quest

Jan 6, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Healthy Eating in the Valley, Tom Sims

by Tom Sims

The question is irrelevant.

The answer is soup – actually, vegetarian soup with more liquid than solids.

Sometimes, I eat alone. When I do so, my options are broader, brighter, and easier. But I do not always eat alone. When I eat with others, it is not necessary for my health that I eat. I have other ways of getting nutrition, but it is more pleasant and more of a celebration if I can order and savor something from the menu. It also means that I do not have to stick out like a sore thumb, feel like a party-pooper, or explain a very long and complicated medical history. For that reason, I am always compiling a repertoire of restaurants that cater to the carnivorous, bread-eating, hard-stuff-chewing “normal people” in my lives while offering quiet options for folks like me.

The answer is soup.

There are 375 million vegetarians in the world. In the United States, in 2008, the number was 32 million. It is a market. So, in my quest for just the right kind of options that I can suggest when my friends ask where I’d like to eat, I have three new suggestions of places where I can be happy, and they can have whatever they like.

The first was a surprise. I have been dropping in to Delly Beans for decades for coffee. Recently, they have morphed into Delly Beans Sandwiches and Gourmet Coffee. Kathryn Gunn bought the place from Jim Chi two and a half years ago. The coffee was always a notch above the rest, and they seemed to have a soup and some sandwiches on the menu. It was back in my sandwich eating days, and I enjoyed several.


Behind Delly Beans Counter

What won my heart recently as I returned, was Kathryn’s declaration that, “We try to have a vegetarian soup every day.” She did that day, and she does every day. The minestrone is delicious. She says, “I make them all here, and I can tell you every ingredient that is in it.”

When Kathryn bought the already thriving establishment from Jim, she decided to add menu items including more sandwiches, soups, and salads as well as her own favorite pastries. She also brought her own smiles, willingness to converse, and eagerness to listen. She delights in hearing, collecting, and retelling the stories she hears from her regular customers. There are many. On my last visit, Kathryn’s mother, Yusan Gunn, was working. She downplayed her role and told me she just helps out so that she can hang out with her daughter.

The food is good. The atmosphere is comfortable and casual, and the service is prompt and friendly. Many will like the tri-tip, chicken, and ribs. Others will love the “croissantwiches,” salads, and paninis. Breakfast is also served. Most prices are under $10. I continue to relish the coffee, specialty tea, espressos, and other fancy coffee beverages.


Delly Beans

Visit Delly Beans at 2141 Shaw Avenue where Shaw and Armstrong avenues intersect between CVS and SaveMart. Call them at (559) 323-8054, and check out Delly Beans on Facebook. They are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Noah’s Ark Restaurant & Bakery is another location with great soup. In fact, two of their soups are intentionally vegetarian: the lentil and the Russian borsch. In addition, there are many other vegetarian and vegan items on the menu. Humus is always an option. Noah’s is an Armenian restaurant with wide Mediterranean options as well as Russian influences. food

Yelpers are nearly unanimous in their praise. One said, “I have eaten at several Fresno Mediterranean Restaurants and Grilles. I won’t bother to name them all. Noah’s Ark is by far the best. The Chicken kabob…”

Hanging on the wall, prominently, is a picture of an Ark. In case anyone is unaware, the owner is happy to explain that it is to remind folks that Mt. Ararat was the landing place for Noah when the flood waters subsided.

People speak of the food being served with kindness and love. Vegetarian tabulie with tomatoes parsley mint, bulgur, and onion. Tzatziki, cucumber and yogurt salad, hummus, and yalanchi tantalize the senses and awaken the appetite. Stuffed grape leaves, chicken salads, and a variety of salads, sandwiches, and entrees invite hungry souls to an Armenian feast. Beef, lamb, assorted kababs, seafood, and bountiful platters will satisfy the folks you bring along in your quest for small portions of soup. Coffees and teas reflect well upon Armenian tradition.

One Yelper said of a recent visit, “It felt like we were eating at a friend’s mom’s house.”


Inside Noah’s Ark

Noah’s Ark Restaurant & Bakery are located at 783 E Barstow Avenue in Fresno at First Street in the same shopping center as Kristina’s Market. Closed on Sunday and Monday, they are open 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The prices are very reasonable, and there is room for small parties and large groups. Call them at (559) 225-1045 to inquire about catering and large parties. Check out Noah’s Ark Restaurant & Bakery on Facebook.

The third option is the Corner Bakery Café in Fresno and Visalia. While it is a chain, it also features fresh ingredients and healthy options including soup. The seating is spacious and comfortable, and there is some very inviting patio dining. The deserts look tantalizing.


Corner Cafe patio

I first discovered and liked it because, like the first two restaurants, it has very good coffee. I also discovered that they always have at least one vegetarian soup. It is usually tomato, but it is good, and it can be ordered alone at a reasonable price. Breakfast is served all day. My eating companions tell me that the sandwiches, salads, and pastries are scrumptious. I must admit, that I have tried the pecan maple bar, and I intend to have the pumpkin spice oatmeal one of these days. There is some attractive pricing of combinations for those with a heartier appetite than I have.

I have tried the hummus, and it is very good. I have also had the quinoa and pico as well as the Asian edamame. Other menu items are more exotic and filling, but I am on a soup quest. Their menu can be read online. While one can gain some weight at Corner Bakery Café, they also boast 100 combinations with 600 or less calories.


Corner Cafe

Corner Bakery Café offers catering and WiFi. It is possible to order online at the Fresno location or Visalia location. Visit them at 8464 N Friant Road in Fresno at Park Crossing or at 4021 S Mooney Blvd. in Visalia at Packwood Creek. Check out Corner Bakery Café on Facebook.

What discoveries have you made? Answer in the comment section below or on Facebook. The quest continues.

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. His congregation, “The Fellowship of Joy,” is part of a larger collaborative called “4141 Ministries,” of which he is Executive Director & he is an active Toastmaster. You can also find him on Facebook.


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