Not Just Good, SO Good!
~ by Denise Gierula
Hum the Jeopardy “think” countdown music in your head, and answer the following trivia question:
How did So Good!, a weekly vendor at the Antietam Farmers Market, pick their business name?
A. Because that is what customers exclaim when they taste their delicious samples
B. Because it just sounded a great business name
C. Because they are both Boston Red Sox fans
(Keeping reading – the answer is at the end of this spotlight)
Berks County natives Liz and Justin Lally, (Justin’s family descends four generations in Berks County), bought So Good! Homemade Soups and Salads on New Year’s Day, 2010 and immediately started gathering old family recipes like Chicken Corn Noodle from Justin’s grandmother. Liz remembers, “The recipe had no quantities on it, so his mother had to teach us how to make it measuring by eye.” Their idea was to establish a place where they could cook their family’s recipes and enjoy the freedom to create new ones. They strive to provide their customers with soups that taste ‘just like their Mothers or Grandmothers use to make’ as well as introducing new and delicious tastes.
Liz and Justin met in 7th grade and continued a friendship through high school and college. “Justin graduated from IUP and me from Penn State, we ended up living in Manayunk and started dating as we both entered the corporate world. Justin proposed on my 26th birthday and I was laid off from QVC a month later, and Justin from Penske a month after that. We found ourselves engaged, unemployed, and realizing that the corporate world wasn’t for us. So we started So Good! because we both love to cook, wanted to try something new, and we realized there was no option for fresh homemade soups in the Reading Fairgrounds Farmers Market.”
Justin makes all of their soups in their market kitchen at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market fresh each week with most of their ingredients come from local suppliers. Experimenting with new recipes like Cheeseburger Soup and Buffalo Chicken Soup, Justin takes his favorite foods and translates them into soup form such as Stuffed Green Pepper Soup, Chicken Marsala Soup, and Shepherd Pie Soup. Liz has translated her art degree into creativity to come up with salads. “I love putting interesting ingredients and flavors together to create a cohesive salad. I try to offer one salad with carbs in it and one without”, said Liz. I am a huge fan of any pasta salad So Good! creates and love to put a scoop on my lettuce salad, making it feel a bit more indulgent.
I asked Liz what we could expect to taste in the following weeks and she replied, “As the weather gets colder we will transition to offering hot soups, seasonal salads, as well as baked oatmeal and other goodies. Some fall favorites are Roasted Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup, and Harvest Chili (it has butternut squash & Granny Smith apples in it!). In the fall, we also love to offer soup toppers – Spicy Maple Pretzel Bites go great with our Roasted Pumpkin Bisque. And homemade Old Bay croutons are a perfect addition to our Tomato Basil Soup.”
With tailgate parties on weekends and the holidays fast approaching, remember So Good! for all your party and catering needs. Did you know that they also offer a bag lunch option for schoolteachers and offices? It includes two choices from their bag lunch menu, paper products, and a small piece of chocolate in a paper bag with your name on it. Feel free to contact them through email at Sogoodsoups@gmail.com.
Need something before the weekend? Visit So Good! at the Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, Thursday 8-7, Friday 8-8 and Saturday 8-4. But don’t look for their homemade ice pops that everyone, young and old have come to enjoy: they are an outdoor market specialty only and can be found at our Antietam Farmer’s Market on Saturdays (8 to noon) and West Reading Farmers market Sunday( 9-1).
I asked Liz the question I ask all our vendors…what she thinks of the Antietam Farmers Market. She exclaimed, “I Sooooooo enjoy your market. The ambiance is fantastic with the large trees and open green space. The customers are very friendly and eager to chat. The Vendors all support each other. The availability of the staff has helped the market work like a well-oiled machine.. in its first year!“
When I asked Liz about some of the challenges of handling three farmers markets plus a family, she replied, “We have a 5 month old, Flynn, who is the smileyest, happiest little guy in town. And Jude, who is a very curious and energetic 2 and a half year old little boy. They are just the cutest things ever and I am in constant awe of them. On Saturday mornings, Justin’s mother watches them both so that I can come to market,” said Liz, “I truly look forward to coming each week. That being said I hate that I don’t get to spend more time at Antietam!”
Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good. So good! So Good! So good! Yes, the trivia answer is C. Liz and Justin really are die-hard Boston Red Sox fans. And as any Boston Red Sox fan knows, the 7th inning stretch at a home game means singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. As Liz states, “We do attend at least one game a year, we LOVE the city of Boston and Fenway even more. Our children call my father in law Papi after Big Papi and Wally (Red Sox Mascot) was our son Jude’s first word. He also says “Go Sox!” whenever he sees an uppercase B.”
The Lally’s garden is currently overflowing with tomatoes of every shape, size and color. If you are drowning in tomato abundance too or if you are planning to buy them at market, the recipe below, a favorite quick side dish from Liz’s grandmother, is a perfect way to enjoy them.
TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD
No measuring necessary, chop up 2 cucumbers and 2 tomatoes in similar size chunks. Place in a bowl with 10 ice cubes, a 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 2-4 Tbsp. of sugar (depending on your taste) toss together, add salt and pepper and place in fridge for an hour. I like to add any fresh herbs I have on hand, but it is delicious as is! Enjoy!