There are few things more comforting than a hot bowl of soup. Last year, Amy Markman of Virginia Beach followed a long career as a geriatric social worker and volunteer for the city’s rescue squad by launching a home-delivery business featuring made-from-scratch bone broths and soups. She’s always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, she says, and Soup Love feels like a natural extension. Now she’s serving up love and care from her home-based commercial kitchen.
When did soup become your thing?
I am Jewish and I grew up in a fairly Jewish-influenced family. We’re not orthodox by any means, not even conservative, (but) we’ve embraced our heritage. Every holiday, we had matzo-ball soup and I always just loved it. As a young teen, even after school, I would come home and I’d always make matzo-ball soup and some other things that my brothers and sisters and my parents were like, “Hm, we’re gonna have that again?”
And it started with your grandmother’s recipe?
I’ve changed it because her recipe had a whole chicken with the skin and the meat. I use only organic bones from local farmers. I use a pot full of bones and a pot full of fresh vegetables, and it cooks for 24 hours. So that is my stock for my matzo-ball soup, and the matzo ball I’ve played with. When I was young, I didn’t make it from scratch; I used the box. The inspiration maybe came from her, but her recipe, it’s evolved into a whole other kind of matzo-ball soup.
Would you say you’re self-taught?
I was inspired by my late father who cooked all the time. He loved to cook. He taught me about cast iron, and he had this big, flat, round cast-iron pan on the stove all the time, whether it was clean or dirty. Most of the time it just had remnants of olive oil and cooked garlic and onions in it. And then from there, he would cook, like, meats and things. The house always smelled garlicy and oniony and good when you walked in. I will say at this point currently, it’s pretty much self-taught.
So, you’ve learned along the way?
I read a lot about cooking and – I hate to say it, but I’m going to say it – television and YouTube has taught me and social media and all the blogging. I’m not a trained chef from an institute, but I have learned. My friends tell me, “You know, you’re no longer a home cook, you’re a chef.”
Do you still have your father’s cast iron pan?
I do. And all his wooden bowls.
You started working from home before many of us were forced to, right?
I did it that way because I knew that I didn’t want to be going back and forth to a kitchen late at night or early in the morning. I kind of wanted this to work in my life. I mean, I’ve worked, I’ve given to the community, I’ve raised my boys. I’m a very present daughter. I have an incredible role model: my mother is a powerhouse, you know, she finds something she wants to do, and she does it. And I feel like this kind of model that I’ve been doing with this soup has also been inspired by her drive and watching her my whole life. She’s played a significant role in my understanding about not just existing, not just being here, you know what I mean? But making a difference – that’s important to me.
Has the pandemic affected your business plans?
Everything I’m doing I would have been doing and have been doing before the pandemic, and I have been doing during the pandemic and I will continue to move forward in the same fashion. I was doing doorstep delivery from the day we started to sell soup and even before we were selling it and delivering it for free for friends, families and associates. I wanted this business model to be very simple for the customer.
Did people seek you out after lockdown?
COVID hit and I’m telling you, people called nonstop. And not only were they buying soups, but mostly a lot of bone broths. A lot of people, whom I’m sure went out and bought mega vitamins, were also drinking this bone broth in hopes to keep their immune system up.
Are you still just delivering in Virginia Beach?
After the holidays, my intention is to deliver one day a week to Norfolk. My soups are also available at some of the local farmers markets on Saturdays and B & L Farm Market in Virginia Beach and The Farm Life General Store in Pungo.
What’s one of your popular soups?
Lemon chicken with orzo. For some reason people just love it. You know, it’s almost like a chicken noodle on steroids. It’s kind of a Mediterranean base, but it’s simple. I try not to over-complicate and over season my products. I feel like the customer can do that themselves. I mean, they’re flavorful, you can eat them just as they are, but I try to have a balance.
Tell me about your 24-hour bone broths.
They cook for every bit of 24 hours. And that was another bonus of having my kitchen adjacent to my house is that I can go down at midnight and check on my pots. So, there’s no 20-hours, 18-hours. It’s 24 hours; I know when I put them on, I know when we take them off.
You’ve said bone broth is the new coffee. Are you telling me to give up my coffee?
No, you do not need to give up your coffee, but I have people that drink the bone broth every morning and they still have their coffee. When I find bone broth very comforting is at night before bed. You know, you’re watching a movie, or you might even be a little hungry, a cup of bone broth is really satisfying, and it’s good for you.
You say love is your soups’ first ingredient.
I don’t mind being called when I’m needed. I like that. I like to be able to help somebody that is not well or is tired and just wants a great bowl soup or whose son is sick or whose mother’s ailing or somebody who has cancer. I mean, it’s very rewarding. So, it’s definitely done from the heart and with love and I don’t take it lightly.
–Interview condensed and edited for space and clarity by Victoria Bourne.