Get Souped Up for National Soup Month
With the holidays over, it's time to buckle down with health-minded resolutions while simultaneously attempting to pad your ribs for the gloomy January forecast. Fortunately, there's always soup, the ultimate panacea for wintry woes. With January being National Soup Month, it's high time to get your hearty slurp on around town. Here's where to nourish your soul this month for National Soup Month.
Kanela Breakfast Club takes a charitable approach to National Soup Month. Throughout January, the restaurant is doling out free loukoumades (Greek doughnuts) to patrons who donate canned soup or non-perishable food items. Anyone who brings donations in to the restaurant will be rewarded with sweet, treacly fried dough, and goods will be given to a local food pantry.
Soup & Bread picked the perfect time to return. The annual soup series makes its seasonal return January 7, holding court each Wednesday for the next several weeks at The Hideout. For those not familiar, 1). what's wrong with you and 2). it's a free soup and bread event with focused themes each week and soups prepared by Chicago chefs, restaurants, and Soup & Bread supporters, with provisions donated by nearby Local Foods. Bread is donated by Publican Quality Meats. Donations are encouraged, with proceeds going towards local food pantries.
If you're keen on umami, it's impossible to out-mushroom the wild mushroom soup at Eduardo's Enoteca. Part of the new winter menu, the soup contains a forest's worth of shrooms, including porcini, morels, chanterelle, black trumpet, lobster, oyster, cremini, and champignon, along with scallion and white truffle. It's likely the earthiest vegan soup you'll ever encounter.
Kudos to La Sirena Clandestina for single-handedly capturing and updating our childhood yearnings. The South American-inspired restaurant's new lunch offerings include a couple soupy supplements, like a rib-sticking black bean medley blended with crema and served with housemade saltines. There's also a three-cheese fugazzetta panini served with tomato soup, which is a nice riff on that classic comfort combo.
For those who resolved to keep things healthy in 2014, at least for the time being, Heartland Cafe has something that is equal parts hearty, comforting, and healthful: buffalo chili. The restaurant prides itself on responsibly sourced, healthier alternatives to gluttonous comfort foods, offering more nutritious renditions of things like chili, burgers, and chips. By eschewing beef for buffalo, the restaurant automatically reduces fat without sacrificing flavor. Each bowl of buffalo chili is positively brimming with beefy flavor, minus any of the innate, binge-y side effects that come with beef. There's also a bean-filled vegetarian chili for those who'd like to take it a step further.
When it comes to soupy comfort food, there's a whole world beyond chicken noodle and split pea. Let's not forget that quintessential Asian warmer, pho. The preemeninent ethnic noodle soup, pho can be found all over Chicago in various forms, studded with all sorts of meats, seasonings, and garnishes. One of the most cultishly adored is that at Tank Noodle, the largest and most popular restaurant in Uptown's Vietnamese enclave. And for good reason. Bowls of pho here are colossal, awash with succulent noodles, anise-scented broth, crisp herbs, and any cut of beef imaginable. For those who'd like to take a more pedestrian route, there's always Big Bowl. Pho here is a little more elegant and a little more chicken noodle-y, but no less delicious. Speaking of elegant, pho doesn't get any ritzier than the version at Le Colonial. The glistening Asian gem in the Gold Coast serves up a luscious version made with oxtail, beef tenderloin, and pungent herbs, in a setting that will make you feel like Anna in Siam.
- Matt Kirouac