Right up at the top on the list of universally favorite things, along with warm woolen mittens and snowflakes, is... soup. Not the over-salted, viscous mess you dump from a can and heat in the microwave. I'm talking long-simmering stocks, thoughtfully added herbs, and a perfect blend of grains, veggies and proteins. Soup from scratch that warms the soul on a blustery day. Admit it—you're craving some right now, and wishing you had the time and culinary skills to get a stock pot simmering on the stove. Take heart! The restaurants of Bend are brimming with fresh, savory, made-from-scratch concoctions sure to warm you from the inside out. Here's our list of soups to sample this fall:
Slow food served up fast
Because the lunch hour rarely encompasses 60 full minutes, an order of soup delivers the best of both worlds: fresh and nutritious slow-cooked food, without the wait. At Jackson's Corner, a cozy spot known more for its creative use of local produce than for speedy service, their soups make a quick lunch feasible. Expect seasonal flavors, such as roasted pumpkin, and go early before the lunch crowd beats you to it!
When the Soupcon cart disappeared from the streets of Bend, soup lovers mourned the loss of a quick and delicious lunch source—but the Soupcon guys are back at it, working their wizardry at Barrio, on Minnesota Avenue in downtown Bend. The soups are original, like the butternut squash curry with garbonzo beans and basil, and authentic, like the salmon chowder made with from-scratch fish stock and in-house smoked salmon.
Take-out, take home, or take to a friend
Devore's Good Food Store keeps a rotating palate of soups packaged in quart containers, ready to heat at home. The soups are intentionally thick, meant to be thinned to taste with water, milk or broth. Some soups do double duty as a sauce, like the West African peanut soup, which begs to be stewed with vegetables and meat and served over jasmine rice. Others pack an umami punch all on their own, like the pea-coconut-spinach blend.
Feeling under the weather? For a soup that cures what ails ya', stop in at Village Baker's eastside or westside location. Kale adds a healthy bonus to the chicken-wild rice rendition, and the included pandura roll sops up the rosemary-seasoned broth nicely.
The Global Comfort Food
Soup as comfort food crosses all cultural boundaries, and in Vietnam the quintessential comfort food is Pho, the beef and rice noodle soup from which Pho Viet & Café takes its name. Creating the soup is no small undertaking—the broth alone requires over 10 hours of simmering beef bones. Fresh bean sprouts, jalapeno, basil and lime top off the soup.
El Burrito, the tucked-away gem just off Third Street, has long been the standard bearer for chicken tortilla soup. In fact, all their soups, salsas and sauces fall into the from-scratch category. The lesser-known Sopa de Albondigas features beef meatballs, a comfort food in any culture, swimming in a vegetable-laden broth with a solid chili pepper kick.
Soup After Dark
What could be cozier on a blustery fall night than a steaming bowl of brothy goodness? Yet soup on the dinner menu is far less common than as a lunchtime staple. Summit Saloon provides a welcome break from this trend, thanks to the talents of the Downtowner soup gurus, who moved their operations from the breezeway location (now home to Boken) to the Summit Saloon, on Oregon Street, in 2009. The daily soup menu is wide-ranging, from options like braised pork with chiles, which was almost a stew—spicy and satisfying—to Cuban corn chowder, a vegan option with a strong curry kick balanced by sweetness from the corn and coconut milk.
Stepping up the elegance doesn't mean leaving interesting soup behind. At Trattoria Sbandatti, at the corner of Newport Avenue and College Way, you should order the Zuppo del Giorno, not just for the chance to say those words with gusto, but for the complex, subtle flavors that are chef Juri Sbandatti's signature. But for some of the best and most delicates soups in Central Oregon, visit Ariana's on Galveston Avenue, where the dishes change regularly with the seasons. A personal favorite is the mushroom soup drizzled with truffle oil, but no matter what's on, it will be delicious.