Interview: Sara Polon, Soupergirl

Photo Credit: Geoff Chesman

When it comes to soup, Sara Polon’s got it covered – even in the summer.

As the founder of Soupergirl, Polon has spent the past five years bringing delicious vegan and kosher homemade soups to the DC area, ranging from cool summer gazpachos to hearty winter stews and everything in between. The fresh, seasonal recipes are developed by Polon’s mother Marilyn, who is affectionately known as Soupermom and Soupergirl’s Chief Anxiety Officer.

The business began with informal soup tasting sessions in Polon’s living room and has blossomed into a veritable soup empire with a robust online delivery and grocery retail business, stands at multiple area farmers markets, and, of course, Soupergirl’s flagship store in Takoma Park.

We talked to Polon about her inspirations, her advice on getting into business with family, and why you’ll never see potato gazpacho.

Q:  Who (or what) has been the greatest influence on your approach to food?

A: Michael Pollan and the entire local food movement. He (it) completely changed my approach to food and eating. I now realize the impact that my food choices have on everything! The planet, farmers, farm workers, water, my community…me!

Q:  When cooking for yourself, what are some of your go-to recipes?  

A: I’m a huge fan of Isa Moskowitz, the vegan cookbook author. I think homemade cashew cream makes the world go round!

Q:  What led to the opening of a second location in downtown DC?  

A: Lots of lots of requests from customers! People seemed to want more healthy, convenient lunch options downtown.

Q:  In the summer, Soupergirl offers a wide variety of gazpacho – watermelon, peach, beet, etc.  How do you come up with these flavors?  Which flavors are you hoping to offer in the future?  

A: We basically experiment! If something is available locally, we’re going to tinker with it in the kitchen. And we’ve definitely had a few failures! However, we look for things that are going to be refreshing, healthy, and satisfying. You won’t see a potato gazpacho anytime soon!

Q: There was a recent Slate article about the perils of starting a business with a family member.  What has been your experience as a family-run business – and what tips would you give to those considering opening up a business with a family member?

A: I read that article and knew Laura well. YOLA was a Soupergirl pick up location. I would recommend clearly delineating your roles. And tread very, very carefully. My mom and I are very fortunate. We’ve only grown closer. However, we knew from the start that I was always going to manage the business end, so she never had to deal with that stress.

Q: What’s next for Soupergirl?  

A: Getting soup to more and more people every way possible! We believe in this business and the food we are cooking. We want to share it with as many people as possible!

Soupergirl is located at 314 Carroll Street NW in Takoma Park and 1829 M Street NW near Farragut North in Washington, DC.  

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