This tiny room tucked into one of downtown Amherst's main strips redefines the term "hole in the wall." A few tables and chairs are all that will fit into this diminutive food stop, which serves lunch only, and only on weekdays. Souper Bowl's got its clientele (downtowners on lunch breaks) as narrowly calculated as its simple fare (soups, salads, and sandwiches-that's it).
The food is basic, but the ingredients are fresh. Bread bowls add a particular Souper Bowl touch to the high-quality soups. A cream of broccoli is tasty but must be eaten quickly to prevent congealing. Lobster bisque, meanwhile, is a soup that's often misinterpreted, especially in the Pioneer Valley, but here, it's a delight: the intense creaminess is still somehow delicate, and it's properly counterbalanced by the right amount of salt and spice. Bravo. There's no guarantee that it'll be available, though: Souper Bowl's menu changes daily in an unpredictable way. Clam chowder, however, is always available on Fridays.
It's hard to create much atmosphere in such a cramped space, but the bustling lunchtime crowd seated at tables with bright blue tablecloths, wolfing down lunches that are handed over from the back- room kitchen, lends the place a pleasant feel. Souper Bowl is certainly a local lunchtime standby, and it keeps the midday soup fans reliably happy.