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Let’s Eat: A soup for every occasion

Warm up with some of the best soup in Thunder Bay.

“Soup Mama” Annalisa Shorrock says her career in soups started unexpectedly.

She was working at the Bean Fiend, helping her friend, the owner Brian Hamilton. “We had no food that day, because the manager had quit. Brian goes, ‘Can you make a soup or something?’’ Shorrock recalls. “I’m Italian, so if you give me a fridge full of food, I will make something,” she laughs.

She made a big pot of vegetable soup, which the customers loved. Eventually, she settled into a routine of making seven different soups a week. After a year, it was 14 soups a week. “The customers just started calling me Soup Mama, and it stuck,” she says.

Seeing how popular her soups were, Shorrock started thinking this could be a business opportunity. When the owner of Kelly’s Nutrition called to say a customer was looking for Shorrock’s soup, and offered to carry some for retail, she said yes. The name for her new business, of course, was Soup Mama.

That was seven years ago, and Kelly’s Nutrition still keeps a freezer full of Soup Mama soups. There are usually six or seven varieties, some of which change with the seasons. Beefcake Burger Factory also carries Soup Mama, and Windy Shores Cafe serves her soup. “I do direct orders from customers as well,” she adds.

Shorrock makes all her soups from scratch, using homemade stock. They are gluten-free and contain no soy, and she can accommodate a wide range of other dietary restrictions as well. “95% of the soups are vegan anyway. I make a vegetable mushroom stock, I use a lot of coconut milk, cashew milk. I do keto soups, I can do pretty much anything,” she says.

Her Italian heritage is evident in her best sellers. “The Tuscan bean soup is one of my grandma’s recipes that I grew up on. She always made it vegan,” she says. “I also do a sausage and potato and kale soup that I grew up on too.”

“Just like how my nonna made it,” Shorrock says, describing her soups. “Really good olive oil, really good homemade stock. You can taste the difference.” Over the years, she thinks she has made over 40 different kinds of soup.

After seven years in business, Shorrock feels comfortable with where her business is at now. She has been voted best soup five times in a local magazine. “I really love my customers,” she says. “Once I have a customer, you’re pretty much kinda like family,” she jokes. “That’s just the way I was raised.”

Shorrock still juggles a full-time job with Soup Mama. “I don’t know how I manage,” she laughs. She reminisces about the time she was making soup at the Bean Fiend Cafe 12 hours before she gave birth to her son. “And four weeks later, I was back, with my son in a Baby Bjorn, making soups!”

One day in the future, she might want her own storefront. “Something super small,” she says. In the meanwhile, “people know where to find me,” she says. She posts updates on her Facebook page, where people can find the menu for ordering.

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