Soup of the Week / Lentil Soup at Amy's Place
Jenny Wilson, longtime cook and manager, shares her thoughts on Amy's signature soup
Photos by kc kratt
3234 Main St., Buffalo
832-6666 or amysplacebuffalo.com
Amy’s Place, the beloved Lebanese-American diner located in Buffalo’s University Heights neighborhood, has been turning out wholesome, unique, and satisfying dishes for over three decades. The popularity and success of Amy’s can be attributed, in part, to the realization that constant changes made to menus and recipes aren’t always alluring to loyal customers. There’s a sense of tradition here, and their ever-popular lentil soup is a perfect example of that. We sat down with Jenny Wilson, longtime cook and manager of the North Buffalo destination.
Can you tell us about your lentil soup and why it is so highly regarded?
I think people love our soup because we let the ingredients speak for themselves. We keep the recipe simple and don’t try to mask the flavor with anything unnecessary. We subscribe to a vegetable share program from Native Offerings Farm in Little Valley, so good portions of those veggies go into our soups. Slow cooking is also important, in order to fully develop the subtle flavor of the ingredients. We allow a few hours for this process, and the end result is one that our guests really seem to enjoy. It’s just a hearty, flavorful, comforting soup that makes people feel happy and satisfied.
Is this soup one of the best selling items on your menu?
Lentils, in general, seem to be a huge seller for us. We serve them in a variety of ways, and they can be found on anything from our salads and curly-q-fries to the filling for many of our sandwiches. We also offer the Bruce Bowl, which is a gussied-up version of our lentil soup topped with red onions, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. I estimate that we prepare about 125 pounds of lentils a week.
What are some of your general rules of thumb for making soup?
I feel that simple is usually best. Complicated techniques and flavors don’t make sense when clean flavors and fresh ingredients turn out delicious results. Trusting your instincts and your palate is something that will lead you to a satisfying end product. When it comes to our lentils, I like to take the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach. Amy’s Place has been open for over thirty-four years, and our lentil soup recipe is almost exactly the same as when Amy Betros, the restaurant’s original owner, started making it. There was really no need to make changes, so it’s been nearly the same for all these years.
Are there any soups that you hold near and dear to your heart?
I love cabbage and soups with it as an ingredient. I really enjoy chopping up a wide variety of Native Offerings’ vegetables and cabbage and cooking them down in a tomato-based broth for a hearty and healthy soup. I’m a big fan of borscht, as well, and broccoli and cheddar soup will always be one of my favorites.
Jennifer Boye is a frequent contributor to Spree and the chef at Mansion on Delaware Avenue.