By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – During a global pandemic, where physical and mental health is of the utmost importance, in a place that is regularly blanketed by multiple feet of snow, accompanied by subzero temperatures, soup may just be the secret ingredient to lift the spirits of the weary. The Soup Shack, located in the small grab-and-go building in Wilson Plaza in Big Sky Town Center, is serving up fresh, warm, healthy homemade soups from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily by none other than Jen Steele, the woman behind Steele Pressed Juice and Java, which operates out of the same location during the summer months.
“Last winter I learned that being open during the days, everybody’s just in a rush to get up to the resort to ski, so I decided this year, let’s try something different, and tried opening at night and doing soup, which is kind of like my other passion,” Steele said. “I’m able to take everything I know about the ingredients that go into juices and apply them to soups. And it’s warming, so it just makes sense to do that.”
It’s extra handy, perhaps, that the location is grab-and-go, offering a COVID-safe way to snag a warm, mobile meal and some toasty naan for dinner after skiing or riding all day. Inside the shack, Steele has four crock pots bubbling, three full of her daily rotating soups—this week it was sausage, white bean and kale, carrot ginger, and vegan chili—and a fourth for her to cook and experiment while she’s working. With a background in culinary arts, the Cocoa Beach, Florida, native moved to the area five years ago, leaving briefly to live in Hawaii, only to return after she realized that she missed the snow.
When concocting her soup recipes, she says, there’s some overlap with the juices she’s familiar with. Her carrot ginger soup, for example, is a savory version of her Pacifier juice offering during the summer months, which includes detoxifying elements.
“I just kind of remember things that I love a lot, or take a juice … like right now I’m experimenting with the ingredients in the detox juice—beet celery, carrot—taking that and adding savory ingredients like onion and garlic and broth and seeing how that comes out as a soup, and that’s been fun,” Steele said.
She gets her produce locally—much of what she’s cooking with right now was carefully preserved from the Big Sky Farmers Market.
The Soup Shack opened two weeks ago and will serve homemade, steaming hot soup until the resort closes for the season. Working in tandem with the soups to warm her patrons, Steele offers hot beverages including coffee and her signature juices as well as bone broth from the Cauldron Apothecary.
“No one really has soup as their main event, you know, so my goal is to have that as the main show since … I can make the juices in my sleep,” Steele said.
To stay in touch with Steele’s daily rotations, follow her on Facebook or Instagram and the next time you need something to warm both your body and soul after an exhilarating day on Lone Mountain, swing by, wave hello, and grab a soup from the little east-facing window in Wilson Plaza.