Sorry, Ballard: Seattle is always most beautiful when seen from the south. Even from a neighborhood as relatively close as Georgetown, downtown is a breathtaking sight, a spray of beautiful shining towers peeking over the warehouses and rail yards of South Seattle. As you're walking to LECT's Soup Stop (5327 Denver Ave S, lectssoupstop.com), downtown's skyscrapers leap out at you from between a line of uninteresting buildings with mildly menacing names printed on them ("White Satin Sugar," "CCI Automated Technologies"). The visual dissonance is a little bit unsettling.
LECT's is visually closer to the fairy tale of Seattle off in the distance than the industrial blahs of its Georgetown surroundings: It's a tiny little magical cabin. Inside, three or four chefs work quietly in a space no bigger than a modest walk-in closet. The only seating at LECT's is a line of picnic tables outside facing a brick warehouse; the downtown skyline is only visible if you eat while standing. It's better to sit with your back to the industry and face the charming little hut where the soup is made, instead.
LECT's name isn't some casual dismissal of the laws of grammar. It stands for the 7028 Life Enhancement Charitable Trust, a Lynnwood nonprofit that provides "glasses, hearing aids, and dentures to people who would otherwise have to do without." Profits from the stand benefit the charity; rather than a tip cup by the window where you place and pick up your order, there's a donations bucket instead.
Lunching for a good cause is a wonderful thing, of course, but it would be a weak gesture if the food at LECT's was bad. Oh, but it's good. If soup is your religion—and at this blustery time of year, we're welcoming new converts to our ranks every day—you owe yourself a pilgrimage to LECT's. I tried a chicken pot pie soup ($6.50, or $1.50 for a cup with a sandwich) and it was fabulous, with crunchy carrots and chunks of potato floating alongside the chicken in a thick and salty broth. Devotion to the concept was key: Floating on top of my soup was a dense, round biscuit "crust" that soaked the flavors up better than any cracker could. (Check lectssoupstop.com/soup-calendar for a monthly schedule, which generally features a rotating menu of one meaty, one vegetarian or vegan, and one gluten-free soup every day.) I also had a barbecue pork sandwich ($8.50; the sauce was a little too tart for my liking, but it was sloppy and satisfying), which comes with a side of Famous Amos cookies and a delicious macaroni salad. But next time I head south to visit LECT's, I might have to skip all the extras and buy two cups of soup instead. Seriously, soup this good is its own side dish and dessert.