The tree has been taken down, the ornaments stored for another year and empty bottles of New Year’s champagne tossed in the recycling. For many, this is about the time where snow is no longer pretty, and the chill is no longer refreshing. Unfortunately, it’s now the beginning of the coldest time of year, and there’s really only one cure: hot soup. Since you’re probably all cooked out from the holidays, we put together some of the best soups and stews from around White Bear Lake for you to try—so when you’re done skating, sledding, or shoveling that snow, hunker down with a hot bowl and thaw out.
OK, time to step outside of your Swedish grandmother’s kitchen and try something new. If you haven’t heard of the dish that has recently become popular in the United States, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup bursting with that new flavor, umami, or “savory taste.” At Orchid, their pho is made with rice noodles in a beef broth, and is served topped with bean sprouts, basil, lime, Sriracha and hoisin sauce. Your choice of protein consists of chicken, meatballs, beef, or a combination of the three. This broth-based soup will make you forget that chicken noodle even exists. Chicken or meatballs, $9.95; beef, $10.50; combo, $11.25.
Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Let’s start with a Minnesota classic. It’s creamy, it’s delicious, and it will stick to your ribs so you can go back out into the deep freeze. In a cup or a bowl, it’s got a good wild rice-to-soup ratio that keeps it hearty and will remind you of childhood dinners at home. And if you’ve been working extra-hard that day, get it as a meal with a salad and garlic toast and you won’t leave hungry. Cup, $3.75; bowl, $4.75; salad and toast, $7.95.
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Basil Soup
It’s the grown-up version of your childhood favorite. Forget the soup from a can; this version will have you tasting familiar flavors, but your matured palate will thank you for the added seasonings, basil being the star. And the grilled cheese accompaniment is not your average white bread with individually wrapped “cheese-food” slices. Here, cheddar cheese is sandwiched between grilled brioche, and for a few extra dollars they’ll add some shaved country pit ham. With this meal, the ice forming on your bones will melt away. $10; add ham, $12.
Asiago Cheese Soup
The Coffee Cottage
The only thing better than cheese is hot cheese. This is the epitome of soul-warming soups, perfect for bread-dipping and staring out the window at the falling snow. Ask anyone who’s had this bowl of deliciousness; they loved it. The Coffee Cottage’s soups change daily, but you really can’t go wrong with whatever they’re dishing up—especially when you know there’s the option of a cinnamon twist for dessert.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
If you’re looking for a bit lighter take on soup, this perfectly seasoned bowl of love is a must-try. This broth-based beauty is served with a dollop of sour cream and utterly meltable and delicious cheddar cheese; and if you love a good crunch with your soup, it also comes with a side of tortilla chips. Close your eyes and maybe, just maybe, you can imagine the sandy beaches of Mexico. Cup, $4.25; bowl, $5.45.
French Onion Gratin
Rudy’s Redeye Grill
If you had to pick a soup to truly thaw out from a Minnesota winter, it might have to be French onion. The top layer of cheese and bread covers the heart of the dish—the onion-rich broth is concealed with no chance of cooling until you make that decision to dig in and reveal the caramelized onions below. At Rudy’s, get it as a starter to warm you up before the main meal, or make it the meal. Cup, $5; bowl, $7.
Eat!@Banning and 5th
Sometimes, soul-warming soup needs a kick. At Eat! you can get some added heat with their Texas-hot chili, homemade from their soup-filled recipe book. The dark, meaty, chunky chili is just as chili should be—with a perfect mix of meat, beans and veggies and enough extra heat to keep you coming back for more. Cup, $3.95; bowl with bread, $6.25.
CHEW ON THIS:
• Pronounced “fuh,” pho is said to have its origins in Northern Vietnam, specifically, Hanoi.
•Pho is the most popular breakfast dish in Vietnam.