Soups are sometimes the undeservedly neglected items on a restaurant’s menu. But, in the case of these dining destinations, whether plain or fancy, they are the stars of the show. Be sure to take time to explore the surrounding areas when you are in each location. But keep in mind, it is all about the soup.
Corn Chowder, anyone? For this taste of traditional New England, head for Soup to Nuts, 559 Main St, Inside the Mill Building, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Valerie, the owner and hostess at Soup to Nuts takes great but simple ingredients of corn, onion, celery, milk or cream and butter, and combines them to create a bowl full of heavenly deliciousness. Sensibly priced, created from scratch, it is the best corn chowder anywhere and has been for thirty-five years and counting. Located in a renovated historic cotton mill filled with retail stores, restaurants, and offices, you can have lunch here, but not dinner. So plan ahead.
Crab Bisque is a rich and famous feature at Tracy’s King Crab Shack; 432 S Franklin Street, Juneau, Alaska. Tracy’s is without question the most famous restaurant destination in Juneau. And once you have had their Crab Bisque, you will understand why. It is a homemade cream based bisque with all fresh ingredients. The main one is King Crab. Tracy’s serves this soup with their fantastic signature garlic rolls. Be sure to check beforehand, to see if they are open; they do close during the winter season.
Napa Valley, California
Not just any Pumpkin Soup. Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup, from the Silverado Resort and Spa, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa Valley, California. Silverado elevates the pedestrian pumpkin into a delicious highlight of your dining experience, with this flavorful soup, garnished with crème Fraiche and sautéed fresh chanterelle mushrooms. Dine at The Grill at Silverado, or the Mansion Lounge. As of this writing, the resort is open following the terrible area fires, thanks to the heroism of the firefighters, for whom we are all deeply grateful. So go, help the local economy bounce back, and have your soup, as you enjoy all the amenities, history, and charm of Napa.
A cool choice for soup, and nowhere cooler than at Pita Jungle, 4340 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona, or any one of several Pita Jungle locations in and around Phoenix. Gazpacho traces its origins to the Spanish region of Andalusia. It began with stale bread, olive oil, garlic, and salt. It was not until the 19th century that this soup included its now characteristic main ingredient of tomatoes. Pita Jungle’s gazpacho, with its vibrant red-orange color and confetti of vegetables, is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. On top of that, it is a delicious vegetarian and vegan dining option.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
New York, New York
Manhattan Clam Chowder simply must be enjoyed in Manhattan, the city where it began. For the best traditional red Manhattan Clam Chowder, head for Aquagrill at 210 Spring Street, New York, New York. It is a warm and wonderful setting with a long marble bar and linen-draped bistro tables. According to food expert Molly O’Neil and others, the creator of Manhattan Clam Chowder was William H. Winters. Winters was born in East Marion, on Long Island. During the Civil War, he and his brother James were blockade runners. After the War, they went to Brooklyn and opened a fish store on Fulton Street. After the Brooklyn Bridge was built, they moved across the East River, to Manhattan, but retained the name, Fulton Fish Market. Famous and successful, it was where they came up with a new way of making chowder. The expensive milk and cream were substituted for less expensive tomatoes. The new recipe was a hit, and the rest is history. The Manhattan Clam Chowder at Aquagrill continues the tradition with flair and savoir-faire.
Pasta e Fagioli
Make your way to Amelia’s, at 235 South Main Street #107, Gainesville, Florida. There you will experience just how to elevate basic pasta and beans to the heavenly realm. Amelia’s knows how. The ingredients include, pasta, white cannellini beans, white wine, chicken stock, and a hint of their marina base, seasoned with salt and oregano, and finished with a basil leaf, made according to the skilled attention of Amelia’s owner, Executive Chef, and University of Florida alumni Andy Fass.
Snapping Turtle Soup
Snapping Turtle Soup is a specialty of The Pines Tavern, 5018 Bakerstown Road, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, served Friday and Saturday only. Rich and savory, turtle soup is a delicacy that is very hard to find on any menu. The ideal place in the USA to enjoy it is at this best-kept-secret dining destination, hidden out in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. It is a special occasion dining place, with a combination of elegance and coziness that makes for a memorable evening. A meal at The Pines Tavern is not complete without the Snapping Turtle Soup, which contains alligator snapping turtle from farms, not wild populations. It is a rich, dark, flavorful soup, served traditionally with a small glass of sherry, to add or not, to your taste, in the Pennsylvania manner. Fun food fact: Turtle Soup was probably on the menu at the first Thanksgiving.
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Mushroom Soup is always on the menu, dubbed State Street Mushroom Soup, at Portabello’s of Kennett Square 115 West State Street, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capital of the World. So any Kennett Square restaurant worthy of its location ought to offer the very best in mushroom soup. The State Street Mushroom Soup at Portabello’s is the crème de la crème in the region. The ambiance is great; be sure to say hello to the chef at work in the open kitchen.
Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup begs the question is it really a soup or is it actually a dessert you can have early in the meal? At The Asylum Restaurant, 200 Hill Street, located in the historic Jerome Grand Hotel, Jerome, Arizona, it is the start of a great meal that you ought to finish with their bourbon pecan pie. The view from your table is also a big part of the rich experience at the Grand Hotel. Take it all in while you sip your soup!
Baked Potato Soup
Baked Potato Soup is a treat at the Machine Shed located at N14W24145 Tower Place, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. At the Machine Shed, all of their excellent soups are made from scratch and served with freshly baked bread. There are two size choices for your soup, but don’t stop with the ladle portion. Go for the hearty bowl of The Shed’s World Famous Baked Potato Soup. It is a creamy white baked potato chowder, loaded with tender Idaho red potatoes, and generously garnished with savory Colby cheese, fresh green onion, and crisp bacon.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup is a favorite flavor sensation at Fido’s 1812 21st Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee. Music makers, savvy tourists, and in-the-know locals rub elbows and bend them eagerly to enjoy this dish, created by Karla Ruiz. She grew up in the small Mexican town of Zamora between Guadalajara and Mexico City and learned to cook from her mother and grandfather. Ruiz uses her appreciation of fresh local ingredients to bring flair to this amazing soup. It is served with avocado, fried corn tortilla strips, cilantro, and sour cream. No wonder the soup gets raves and encores.