Best of the CRANDIC Spotlight: Her Soup Kitchen

Barb Farnsworth in front of Her Soup Kitchen in Iowa City, November 2020. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Her Soup Kitchen was voted Best Gluten-Free-Friendly Options in Little Village’s 2020 Best of the CRANDIC awards.

Barb Farnsworth, 60, owns and operates Her Soup Kitchen alongside her two kids and husband, Dick Farnsworth. Prior to opening the South Dubuque Street restaurant, Barb worked in the printing business and Dick owned and operated a mechanic shop for 30 years.

“We decided 11 years ago to open our restaurant because we’re all foodies,” Barb said. “When we went on vacation we always took our kids to five-star restaurants, whether that was in Chicago or New Orleans or other cities.”

But their little lunch restaurant, complete with a kitchen visible from the dining area, is all about home cooking. Unlike most comfort food restaurants, Her Soup Kitchen serves a range of healthy, non-fried and gluten-free options within their menu of sandwiches, salads and, of course, soups.

“When we decided to open the restaurant we said ‘hey, let’s take our knowledge of cooking and recipes and turn it into something great,’” Barb said.

Barb Farnsworth
Barb Farnsworth, owner of Her Soup Kitchen in Iowa City, in 2016.

Dick smokes all the meat they use for soups and sandwiches, while Barb makes their broths and sauces from scratch, in-house and gluten-free. Their gluten-free bread is purchased from Rich’s Bakery, originally based in New York.

“I believe we are definitely more well-known because of our gluten-free menu,” Barb said.

Prior to opening a restaurant, Barb had no professional culinary experience: “I have just always been a wonderful cook.” She does admit it is sometimes hard working with family. When her daughter had a baby, Barb and Dick were left to run the restaurant by themselves.

Before COVID-19 hit, Barb said Her Soup Kitchen — which is open for just four hours a day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., four days a week — was making $1,500 a day. Now she says they’re taking in about $300 a day.

“COVID hit us hard,” she explains. The majority of their patrons are older, and at higher risk for serious illness due to the virus.

Their dining room and patio have remained closed, but the restaurant offers curbside pick-up and catering.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.

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