No soup for you, at least until June

The famous "Soup Nazi" episode of the sitcom "Seinfeld" first aired almost 13 years ago, yet half of America can probably still correctly identify the source of the phrase "No soup for you."

That's the kind of recognition that franchisee Michael Barr has to be banking on as he plans to open a branch of the Original SoupMan in June on the skyway level of the Capella Tower in Minneapolis (225 S. 6th St.,, across the street from Eddington's (200 S. 6th St.,, downtown's longtime soup source.

The chain serves the soups of Al Yeganeh, the New Yorker behind Yeganeh's Soup Kitchen International and the inspiration for the "Seinfeld" Soup Nazi. The quick-service operation will offer a constantly changing line of soups -- all served with a chunk of crusty baguette -- along with sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Stop in early; Barr is conducting a contest in which the winner walks away with a free daily cup of soup, for life.

Going up

Think gas prices are out of bounds?

"Flour prices have tripled in the past eight months," said Steven Horton, co-owner of Rustica (816 W. 46th St., Minneapolis, "A [50-pound] bag of flour used to be around $9 to $11, and today it's $28."

To compensate, Horton recently raised most of its bread prices by about 10 percent (although he held the line with prices on pastries and cookies). It's the same story in bakeries all over town, as fuel surcharges are pushing up costs of other ingredients, from eggs to butter to chocolate. At the Franklin Street Bakery (1020 E. Franklin Av., Minneapolis,, the price of the bakery's fabulous chocolate ganache cupcakes just went up 50 cents.

"It wasn't a drastic increase, but we had to do something," said Lynne Hackman, the bakery's pastry chef. "It's either raise prices or skimp on ingredients, and I don't want to compromise the integrity of our products." Some good news at the Franklin Street: Because the bakery's retail counter is connected to a high-volume wholesale baking operation, bread prices have remained stable. Bargain hunters should stop by on Thursdays, when most loaves are just 99 cents.

Don't expect prices to fall anytime soon. "High flour prices are probably here to stay," said Horton. "It's been driven by fuel price increases, crop shortages and increased worldwide demand."

Farmstead dinner

On May 18, Slow Food Minnesota is inviting folks to get a real taste of spring in the great outdoors. Check out wild mushrooms, native spring plants, a rehabbed trout spring and more at a farm on the bluffs overlooking Lake City, Minn., then enjoy a picnic dinner featuring braised boar with nettles, ramps, fresh mushrooms and wild asparagus along with locally produced wine and beer. Tickets are $25 for nonmembers, $15 for members and $5 for children under 17; call 952-953-3342 for reservations.