Until now tomato soup served mostly as a kind of dip for grilled cheese. (RIP Bite Cafe and their grilled cheese, by the way. A moment of silence.) But that is not the case with Protein Bar & Kitchen’s tomato soup, which is a complete dish in its own right—not that it can’t be followed by a wrap or one of their protein bowls. Thick and chunky, creamy and packed with flavor, PBK’s tomato soup is garnished with melted parmesan and nut-free pesto. According to Kate Rettker, PBK’s director of marketing, their tomato soup has nutritional value beyond the “comfort factor”; it is fortified with nutritional yeast, giving it 17 grams of protein with 210 calories per bowl. For an added nutritional boost, riced cauliflower can be added.
Speaking of nutrition, PBK is a bit of a local gem in terms of chain restaurants, offering both convenience and healthy meals. Founded in Chicago in 2009 by Matt Matros, Protein Bar & Kitchen opened the first restaurant across from the Willis Tower with the goal of serving “fast fuel” as opposed to fast food, providing foods packed with protein—including unconventional ones such as quinoa. Protein Bar is definitely not the only healthy food chain around—gladly there are many other options available, such as Sweetgreen, Freshii, and Just Salad. But PBK is the one that serves some of the most comfort-y items, with a certain juiciness that makes eating healthy foods a bit more enticing. According to Rettker, some of their best sellers are the Mexicali bowl, the PB&J shake, the kale caesar salad, and the egg roll bowl. The tomato soup, which sells for $5.99 a bowl and $3.49 a cup, is also one of their most popular items. But it’s seasonal, served exclusively during fall and winter months—so run before it’s gone. It’s worth it.
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