Toronto’s Favourite Soup Kitchens
RaviSoups offers a little refuge. Alas, autumn is upon us again and it's time to pack up picnics and patios for yet another year.
As a balmy summer shifts to cooler autumn temperatures, there is definitely a need for hearty, soul-warming comfort food.
This feted Mildred Pierce saucier and soup sous opened RaviSoups in the former clubland location of Black Camel last spring and, despite the lack of foot traffic, quickly developed a devoted following.
The slick space hasn’t changed much from its Camel days – a takeout counter and cash up front, a 25-seat room at the rear, plus backyard patio when weather permits for those who want to dine in situ. By noon there are lineups.
An uncanny assortment of menu items like Chicken Hot Pot and Apricot Curry soup, along with a plethora of perfectly pressed wraps catch the eye. Each item bears a straightforward Western name, but ingredients are inspired from the Far East.
And for good reason! Kanagarajah’s swoonsome curried apricot and red lentil soup ($6.99, all 12 ounces) is more velvety veggie purée than mere soup, its subtle flavouring intensified by fresh coriander leaf and citrusy crème fraîche.
His roasted butternut squash proves even more impressive, thick with shredded duck confit and dressed with Chinese chives.
When you opened up the Dundas West location you asked me to write up a short bio about you and you were so pleased with it.
Keeping your legacy and story alive always. Xo Soup connoisseur Ravi Kanagarajah was born on July 22 1970 in Sri Lanka.
Ravi was raised in Kilinochi where he grew up surrounded by family in the restaurant business.
His father owned Nathan Cafe which was well known and employed up to 40 people as staff.
At the tender age of nine Ravi’s curiosity had got the best of him which caused him to patiently stand around and watch the chef’s work their magic.
The different aroma of spices and ingredients used to make such huge pots of curry soon convinced him that this would be his career in the near future.
Unfortunately a few years later his father had passed away and at the age of fourteen Ravi was granted permission from his mother to run the business.
Little did he know that his dream of being a chef was short lived in the cafe. All was going well but the war in the Sri Lankan economy caused the restaurant to be demolished.
Ravi was never an individual to give up on faith and hope. His mother sent him to go seek a better life and broaden his opportunities in Germany.
Ravi then travelled across Europe in different countries working at various restaurants in the food industry.
This wasn’t fulfilling enough so he decided to take his endeavors across the world and decided to pursue his dreams in Canada.
In 1991 Ravi arrived in Canada and upon arrival went straight to meet his uncle who was working at Mildred Peirce in Toronto.
His uncle seemed to be overwhelmed with work so Ravi jumped at the chance to help him out and started washing the dishes.
The owner immediately noticed his nature of being a hard worker and on the spot offered him a job as a dishwasher.
This soon turned into fifteen years of hard work at the Mildred in which the passion Ravi had for food gave him the drive to obtain the highest rank as the Saucier.
He made many different types of soups which were fusions of the western culture and his Sri Lankan background. Ravi never did forget his roots and started playing with the spices which led to creating delicious concoctions.
One fine evening in the year 2000 as Ravi was creating the menu for New Years at the Mildred, he let his owner and executive chef test out his shrimp bisque.
Both of the individuals were blown away at such exquisite taste and said that this was definitely a Ravi Soup! This inspired the young man to take a step forward and he marvelled at the idea of opening up his own restaurant.
He knew it would not be easy and left his job of fifteen years in hopes of achieving something much greater. Ravi started working for the Black Camel which was a sandwich shop on 322 Adelaide St West.
After about nine months into the job, the owner decided to close up shop because business was not as expected.
Ravi convinced the owner that he wanted to take over the lease to start his own restaurant. He soon had the keys to what would be one of the best things to have ever happened.
All the backlash and lack of support did not seem to bother Ravi. He was aware that over the past 10 years there were 7 failed businesses in the very same location.
Keeping his head up high and with the help of his wife Ravi spent all of his time in his new restaurant that he simply named RaviSoups.
Word travelled quickly about his delicious soups and before he knew it, busy business folk and downtown people alike were enjoying soup and wrap combos in his new establishment.
This was all followed by rave reviews and business started booming.
Kanagarajah was interviewed by several different types of media and publications who were pretty much keeping his word of mouth mentality intact.
In the first five years of opening, Ravi never once printed any takeout menus or even had a business card.
Ravi is now the proud owner and founder of three RaviSoups locations across downtown Toronto.
He is very pleased to say that hard work with a lot of dedication surely does pay off. Never give up on your dreams and remember life is way too short.