Soup, as Merrie Bechtold knows all too well, is the ideal vehicle for feeding a lot of people without spending a lot on ingredients. As a former organic farmer, sheep rancher and mother of three, she made from-scratch soups and stews for dinner at least once a week.
"I'm a big believer in 'You are what you eat,' " says Bechtold, 53. "They never ate out of a box," she says of her family.
Soup also can be a strategy for filling up on vegetables, a fair amount of fiber and a bit of protein with minimal caloric consequence. Infinitely adaptable, soup also can be made vegan and gluten-free with a little time and effort, of which Bechtold spares none at her hole-in-the-wall Medford restaurant, Spoons.
She starts Spoons' stocks three days before they become soups, particularly if roasting and boiling bones is involved. Vegetable stock she can pull off in a day, but Bechtold guarantees that her broths never come from a box. She finishes soups in the morning before opening Spoons at 11:30 a.m. and ladles portions as long as they last.
"It's the alternative to fast food," says the Medford resident. "I know it's good for you."
Bechtold's oldest daughter, an "organic health nut" who resides in Eugene, originated the idea of a small storefront that would serve just a few, simple, wholesome items that could be eaten with a spoon. Looking for a business opportunity after years as a full-time mom, Bechtold opened Spoons Friday, Jan. 13, at a spot no bigger than a snack bar in the lobby of downtown Medford's Woolworth Building.