Metro, Food, Features, Newton

Family-Run Soup Shop Brings a Feeling of Warmth to Newton

Family owned and operated since 1995, New England Soup Factory has warmed the hearts of Newton residents with its inviting atmosphere and homemade soups and sandwiches.

“It’s the thing that sets us apart from the other 30 restaurants on the street … that you’re able to walk in here and we know you … versus walking into an average store and just kind of getting a robot on the other side [that] doesn’t care whether you come or not,” Paul Brophy, owner and founder of New England Soup Factory, said. “We kind of put a little bit more into it.”

Paul has run the business with his wife Marjorie Druker for over 30 years. Druker and Paul met while attending Johnson & Wales University for culinary school, before opening up their restaurant using Marjorie’s recipes, according to Paul.

The Brophys opened the first New England Soup Factory in Brookline in 1995 before moving to their current location at 244 Needham Street in 1998, according to their daughter Emily, event coordinator and front house manager at New England Soup Factory. Over the years, the most rewarding aspect of the family’s success, Paul said, has been getting to spend 75 hours a week working together.

“That’s what you’ll realize, like it’s all about not necessarily running around and doing other things,” Paul said. “It’s being able to spend quality time with your kids and your wife, and that’s what we do.”

The customers are what keep the Brophys going, according to Emily.

“I have great customers who keep me busy constantly but are so caring, so nurturing, and we just have a great community,” Emily said.

Emily said she has been working for her parents’ business since she was 13, growing up to eventually follow in their footsteps by attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales and coming back to help run the business. According to Emily, customers frequent the Factory so often they do not even need to order.

“We can see people in the parking lot, and I already know what to put in their bag and they haven’t even walked into the restaurant yet,” Emily said. “So that’s how regular our customers are.”

The Factory is adjacent to the sit-down side of the restaurant, the Modern Rotisserie, and often customers will stop by to get soup for lunch before heading over to the Rotisserie for dinner. 

The Factory has daily soup specials ranging from spicy chickpea and butternut squash to double onion and sherry. Stocking the fridges are a wide range of quart to-go soups, chicken pot pies, and pasta salads.

House soups include classic chicken vegetable, New England clam clam and corn chowder, and chili con carne—a house favorite. Paired with a piece of multigrain or french bread, these soups make the perfect meal for a cozy fall night in. Fresh salads complete with homemade dressings ranging from roasted red pepper vinaigrettes to simple mixes of olive oil, parsley, and lemon juice, are another healthy option.

Local resident Nina Butong said she keeps coming back to the store for its plethora of soup flavors.

“I like that they have a lot of varieties and not just for you know, takeout like ready to go, but also frozen so that I can take stuff home,” Butong said. “So it’s very convenient for me.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Brophys to rethink their business model, according to Emily. Instead of having a sitdown restaurant, Emily said New England Soup Factory became more takeout-oriented.

“It was almost a weird blessing because we pivoted our whole concept and we went from sit-down dining into more of a marketplace to fill people’s refrigerators and fill people’s cabinets and make it more of a one-stop shop,” she said. “It’s actually been very successful for us to move in that direction.”

Paul said the pandemic allowed his family to shift its focus toward spending time together and life outside of the business.

“That was actually a good thing for us where it helped us regain our quality of life, and things changed,” he said. “For us, business became even stronger as we refocused and turned things around.”

New England Soup Factory serves soups and grab-and-go items including fresh sandwiches, salads, and sweet treats. It is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at 244 Needham Street.

November 5, 2023