Soup and I have never had a great relationship. As a child, I spent countless hours moping over yet another meal of soup. Anytime someone is sick in my family, my mom digs her stainless-steel pot out of the cabinet and makes my grandmother’s “famous” chicken noodle soup recipe. Personally, if I’m feeling under the weather, soup is by far the last thing I will reach for to restore my health. I firmly believe that NyQuil cures colds, not a pot filled with chunky vegetables. (Sorry mom)

To say that I hate all soup though would be a lie. You see, there’s one soup out there that makes my cold, soup hating heart light up. It came into my life in a surprising way and I haven’t been able to forget about it ever since.

In my family, it’s a sin to go to southern California and not stop to eat at Katella Deli in Los Alamitos. As a seventh-generation Californian, I grew up going to the family owned deli my entire life. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I found my signature dish at the restaurant.

My family and I were on a vacation from Arizona visiting relatives in southern California. Upon our usual stop at the deli, my uncle somehow convinced me to try a bite of his clam chowder. Before I continue, I just need to make two things VERY clear. One, I hate soup and two, I hate seafood possibly even more than I hate soup. Just the smell of fish makes me nauseous. So why I decided to sample his meal was beyond me. I went into the bite with my nose plugged and prepared myself to have a gag reaction. After my first taste however, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure what voodoo magic the chef had done to that bowl, but I couldn’t taste a trace of fish. All that I could taste was a mouth-watering blend of potatoes and cream sauce. Was everything that I had ever thought about soup and seafood a lie? I began to help myself to more as my uncle looked on, upset that he had lost his bowl of chowder.

Clam chowder soup. Photo by: Kate Hopkins on Flickr

Ever since that day, the only thing that I will order at Katella Deli is a big bowl of clam chowder soup. My family even has a running joke anytime someone asks what I want for dinner to say “Oh, she wants Katella Deli”. If it weren’t for the 300 plus miles in between myself and the deli, they’d be spot on. I have yet to cheat on Katella Deli and try clam chowder anywhere else. To be quite honest, I’m afraid that if I try it somewhere else it won’t taste the same and I will go back to my full-fledged soup hating ways.

While I don’t think I’ll ever see the day that I love soup, I can say for sure that Katella Deli’s clam chowder will always be my only exception.

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