Students enrolled in culinary arts institutes learn how to prepare a wide range of soups, taking the time to make flavorful broths filled with delicious ingredients. In the busy life of a restaurant, however, the pot containing the soup of the day often receives less attention than it deserves. Luckily, if you’re interested in eating something more exciting than an unremarkable bowl of chicken noodle or tomato soup, there are a number of establishments that produce amazing and comforting bowls every day. Here are some of the best soups being ladled out across the U.S.:
Perfecting the classics
There is a reason soup has so often been used as a home remedy for various ailments. There’s something uniquely comforting about sipping spoonfuls of an old favorite. Many restaurants specialize in bringing impressive skills and quality ingredients to make those familiar tastes seem fresh and exciting.
“There’s something uniquely comforting about spoonfuls of an old favorite.”
The Soupbox in Chicago caters to customers looking for those old-school tastes, offering a varied selection of beloved items daily. For example, there’s a classic chicken noodle with carrots, celery, peas and semolina noodles. The broccoli and cheese features white cheddar, carrots, onion and garlic. The minestrone’s tomato broth is full of penne pasta, garbanzo beans, garlic, onions and spinach. And if soup isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger, the restaurant also serves grilled cheese and salads.
French onion soup is a hearty French tradition. As Bon Appetit shared, the recipe used by chef Ludo Lefebvre at the Los Angeles bistro Petit Trois is true to its origins even as it stands apart from many other versions. First and foremost, the soup is made with veal stock instead of the more common beef. The bowl comes topped with the cafe’s exceptional toasted baguette, plus both Gruyere and Emmenthal cheeses. The combination ensures a dish that is fully loaded with strong, but perfectly balanced, flavors.
Though you can find versions everywhere, chowder in all its regional varieties is deeply tied to New England culture. Yankee magazine pointed to the fish chowder served at Helen’s Restaurant in Machias, Maine as an example of a simplicity that brings consistently excellent results. There, the kitchen staff makes broth by using potato water to cook North Atlantic haddock. With onion, heavy cream, butter and some seasoning from kosher salt, white pepper and dried dill, you have one irresistibly straightforward dish.
Bold new broths
While some chefs turn out excellent soups without departing from the expected flavor combinations, others take more chances. There’s plenty of room to explore unusual techniques and ingredients, and these innovative items might give you ideas for your own recipes.
Portland, Maine’s Kamasouptra always has some intriguing selections on hand, starting with its grilled cheese and tomato soup. Rather than the standard soup and sandwich pairing, this concoction is a pureed amalgamation of the two. The jalapeno beer and cheddar is made with a red ale from a local brewery and flame-roasted peppers. Most popular, however, is the loaded potato soup, featuring butter, chives, garlic, cheddar cheese and sour cream.
At The Bazaar in Beverly Hills, chef Jose Andres brings creativity and attention to detail to the Spanish-influenced cuisine, including the selection of soups. The wild mushroom features a raw egg yolk, an assortment of herbs and the sheep’s cheese Idiazabal, imported from Spain. Then there’s the foie gras floating island, a rich, cappuccino-like cup featuring corn nuts and chives, topped off by a foam of corn espuma.
Ivan Ramen in New York City offers a number of innovative and acclaimed takes on the Japanese noodle soup. The spicy red chili ramen comes in a broth made with dashi – a seafood stock commonly used in Japanese cuisine – and chicken. It features rye noodles, minced pork and an egg. A vegetarian soup is also available, including a soy sauce and vegetable broth, enoki mushrooms and roast tomato.
Whether you prefer sticking to old favorites or exploring new ways of constructing delicious soups, there’s plenty of inspiration out there for culinary academy graduates. The best broths require careful choices of ingredients and plenty of patience. However, if you use your skills to put together great flavors, then you’ll find that soups can be far more than a simple appetizer. Instead, they can become a major attraction for your restaurant.