Soups warm us up after a long day playing in the snow and refresh us after exploring one of Colorado’s hundreds of beautiful trails. Soups are one of our favorite ways to sample the delicious flavors of the region, whether it’s a hot and chunky stew made with local roasted green chilies, or a rich bisque full of farmers market vegetables and at Da Kind Soups there is a little something for everyone.
Next time you find yourself coasting down the hill from the mountains, stop by Da Kind Soups in Evergreen. This counter-service café, with an ever-changing menu, serves 10 soups and hot, pressed-to-order sandwiches. It’s one of our favorite spots for a quick and easy supper or a light lunch while checking out the foothills.
The recipe box at Da Kind overflows with more than 350 recipes. Every day, Dustin Speck and his staff prepare vats from scratch, roasting meats, boiling stocks and sautéing vegetables to umami-rich perfection. Dustin opts for fresh herbs and spices to season soups in place of salt. Every day, the soup menu includes vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and meaty options.
Flavors range from simple standbys like creamy tomato and chicken noodle to sophisticated options like fresh corn chowder with smoked sea salt and French bean green lentil.
”As a family, as locals, as parents, we’re cooking for people we know,” said Ariane Speck, Dustin’s wife and manager at Da Kind. “It’s important to me as a mom that my kids eat well. If there’s a place I can grab something fast and healthy to take home for my family, that really works for me. I want that to be available for these people I’ve known all my life.”
Late one wintry afternoon, customers were already lining up at Da Kind’s soup counter, sampling soups and chatting about the cold front rolling in. Customers thumbed through freezers of popular boil-in-bag containers of soups as they waited for their turn at the counter. More than 15 flavors of frozen, to-go soup bags were available, including some that were on the hot line and others from the previous days’ batches.
Ariane uses the frozen soups as a base ingredient for home recipes like creamy spinach Florentine soup over angel hair pasta and grilled shrimp, or Boulder Brewing Company beer cheese soup macaroni and cheese.
The staff working the counter helped me sample every soup on the line. Dustin keeps descriptions of the soups of the day on hand, so the staff can tell you exactly what you taste in each sample.
We pored over the delightfully tiny sample cups. Our top pick: mushroom herb, a brothy soup generously studded with large chunks of cremini and field mushrooms sautéed with onions, seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, and finished with fresh rosemary and thyme. This vegan option is loaded with hearty flavors and textures, yet light and healthy. The broth is so rich with roasted flavors, you’d swear it was a beef or veal stock.
To make up for lost fat and calories, we indulged in the hot pastrami sandwich, one of five hot grilled sandwiches on the menu board at Da Kind. We dipped, dunked and finally sopped this thick meaty stack of toasted rye, lean pastrami, cool creamy coleslaw, and melted Swiss cheese in our favorite mushroom herb broth, congratulating ourselves on a perfect pairing.
We were also tempted by the mozzarella tomato and basil on sourdough and the house-roasted turkey sandwich with bacon and Swiss, but were disappointed that the grilled cheese was made with American slices rather than a more grown-up option like sharp cheddar or Swiss.
Heartier soup favorites were (Colorado-style) pork green chili spiced with chipotle peppers, New England clam chowder made with fresh clams, and three potato — a mild and creamy tomato soup made with Yukon gold, red bliss and sweet potatoes. Beef up a simple meal with a fresh bread boule, supplied fresh from Blue Point Bakery in Denver.
We’re excited to return to Da Kind this summer when Dustin makes chilled soups like tomato gazpacho, avocado and lemon, and tomato, cucumber and lime.
Four times a year, Dustin orders a big box of fresh Maine lobsters and makes a batch of lobster bisque. This delicacy is so popular with the Evergreen locals that Ariane creates a waiting list for the soup, so that customers can reserve a bowl or a bag to go before it’s all gone.
Ariane and Dustin Speck and the staff at Da Kind live up to the shop’s motto, “Spreading Kindness in Soups,” by using healthy recipes, donating food to local community kitchens, and providing discounts and a welcoming environment to local high school kids on their lunch periods.
If You Go
Da Kind Soups
27883 Meadow Drive
Evergreen, Colorado 80439
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday–Saturday
Bowl of soup: $5 -7