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Yes, soup for you ... at The Original SoupMan

By Rick Koster

Publication: The Day

Published January 17. 2013 4:00AM   Updated January 17. 2013 5:10PM

One of the most famous episodes of "Seinfeld" is about some misanthrope who makes really good soup. As everyone now knows, the dude - known on the show as "the Soup Nazi" - is actually real and so are his soups.

I'd have liked that episode a lot better if the Soup Nazi, instead of merely banning George Costanza from his restaurant, had withdrawn from his chef's whites a pair of tin snips and severed Costanza's nose. I really hate George Costanza.

My bride and I like soup a lot, though, and were well pleased to learn that the in-the-flesh Soup Nazi, whose name is Al Yeganeh, was opening The Original SoupMan restaurant at Mohegan Sun. Why, we could luxuriate under his baleful gaze and sample soups like a wine-tasting! And who knew? Maybe Costanza would show up and we could dunk his head in a vat of boiling gumbo like that immortal scene in "Angel Heart" with Mickey Rourke and the devil worshipping Southern plantation guy!

There are some problems with that idyllic scenario, though.

First: The Original SoupMan resaurant isn't a restaurant, per se, but rather a small kiosk in the food court of the Sun's Casino of the Earth. There are community tables for purposes of on-site dining, to be shared by folks eating soup or savories from other kiosks in the food court.

Next: I don't think the Original Soup Man actually works at this location. That's probably obvious - but it's also possible that "Seinfeld" kooks might in fact make the pilgrimmage to the food court just to giggle and point at the real Soup Nazi.

Here's the good thing, though. If you're at the casino for a show or to gamble, and you're not up for spending a few hundred bucks in one of the high-end restaurants, it's probably interesting to try this place.

A staple in the world of soup-ness at large, and a daily offering at the SoupMan, is Broccoli Cheese. This is an odd soup in general, because you think it can't possibly be bad - it's cheese-based, after all - but about every other version you encounter seems like a party dip served a few hours after the party has ended. Almost congealed, really, like that unnaturally orange cheese product ladled over tortilla chips to make ballpark nachos.

But SoupMan does it right. Sure, it's thick, but not so much that a spoon will stand upright in it. However, if you dip a spoon into it and pull it out, the soup stays on the spoon and slowly drips back into the bowl, the way it should. It's also got a hint of spice and smokiness that other BC soups do not. It's not a soup you order when you're watching your waistline, but there is plenty of crisp, green broccoli bobbing within so you can fool yourself into believing it's good for you.

A compelling but curious choice from the rotating specials was "Jambalaya" - curious because jambalaya isn't soup but a rice-based dish similar to paella. Attention, world-revolves-around-Manhattan Soup Nazi: I think you're trying to say "gumbo."

This is actually quite tasty and is indeed reminiscent of traditional gumbo - even though it's not. There's certainly a dusky roux and happy chunks of smoky sausage and chicken, not to mention a few tiny shrimps, but any of the requisite signature vegetables like okra or celery are absent. That's the perfectionist in me; let it be said that, whatever it is, it has great flavor and packs a bit of spicy torque.

Lobster bisque is one of the company's signature offerings. But while there was a reasonable flavor and a few toothsome bits of actual claw and tail meat, the implied and anticipated creamy density of the dish was absent and, instead, had a consistency more like a broth.

There are also sandwiches. A high point was the basil/mozzarella/sun-dried tomato (for a very reasonable $4.99). It was a sizable construct on what appeared to be a baguette that sported deep grill marks, guaranteeing the insides would all be warm and melded together. The mozzarella had been warmed to ooziness and held everything in place. The pesto had a real kick and didn't remotely taste as though it came out of a jar. And the basil was indeed fresh. Very nice.

Less successful were the pulled pork ($7.95) and corned beef ($7.95) sandwiches. The former boasted a hearty clump of shredded, not-too-dry pork with a mild tang, a dollop of yellow mustard and a sprinkling of ho-hum coleslaw - but the whole thing collapsed on a rapidly disintigrating bun.

I asked for the corned beef on rye with Swiss cheese. The meat was plentiful and lean - but very tough so that I had to play tug-of-war with my own jaws.

The Original SoupMan presents interesting and different options for a soul wandering through a casino food court.

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The Original SoupMan

Casino of the Earth, Mohegan Sun Resort Casino
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville
(860) 862-9758

Cuisine: 10 soup options - four perennial choices and six that change daily from a rotating menu of over 50 recipes - along with deli and specialty sandwiches, designer salads, and rice bowls.

Atmosphere: It's in a casino food court.

Service: Nice folks. On two visits, different servers happily did some research on whether particular soups were vegetarian in nature.

Prices: soups $4.99-$7.99 cup/$7.99-$11.99 bowl; salads $3-$8.59; sandwiches $4.99-$8.95.

Hours: 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 9-3 a.m. Fri., 8-3 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.

Reservations: No, but you can always call ahead to see which of the 50 soups are available on a given day.

Credit cards: All majors

Handicap access: Sometimes the lines in the food court can make it difficult to maneuver through, but generally it's pretty comfortable.

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