Warm soup has a soothing quality. During the fall, we crave its comforting aroma. Just about every culture has a version tailored to suit local tastes and showcase regional ingredients. In Edina you can find Mexican tortilla soup, Italian wedding soup, French onion soup, Japanese noodle soup, American baked potato bacon soup and so many more. Take a look at this soup sampler of sip-, slurp- and savor-worthy soups served Edina-style.
This tortilla soup brims with Latin warmth. Grilled chicken gives dark pasilla chile broth a meaty bite. The heat from the chili peppers melds into the chicken along with tomatoes, avocado chunks and crispy tortilla strips. This traditional Mexican soup remains popular year-round but is even more appealing on cold days. Enticingly robust with welcome spiciness, the tortilla soup can stand on its own. Still, you’ll want to begin your meal with a round of famous Barrio tortilla chips, fresh guacamole and ancho salsa, or maybe a margarita. The combination of hot soup, snappy chips and a sultry cocktail will warm any weather-weary soul. $9; chips, guacamole and salsa $9.75.
HOUSEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP
The housemade vegetable soup is an old standby at the new Hilltop. Many Eden Avenue Grill favorites remain on the menu of this renovated restaurant, and this soup is a keeper. Chef Bruce Bjorkman perfected the tried-and-true recipe over 35 years. “The longevity kind of speaks for itself,” says Brett Johnson, co-owner. Housemade beef stock is loaded with carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and corn. “People feel like they’re getting their vegetables,” says Johnson. The piping-hot vegetable soup brings to mind Mom and memories of home. A side of moist, dense, scratch-made corn bread adds some starchy heft. Cup $4, bowl $6, cornbread $3.
JAPANESE NOODLE SOUP
In Japan, noodle soup serves as a full, nourishing meal and you’ll find variations of the dish throughout the country. JK’s Table holds to high Japanese standards but lets you customize your soup. Pick from two kinds of fish broth, soy or curry. The chef makes his own stock, so every dish tastes authentic. Next, select a protein from grilled chicken breast, tofu, shrimp tempura or fried chicken (karaage). A mix of carrots, green onions and chili pepper jazz up the soup with color. Bits of wakame seaweed bring out fish flavors. The noodles are the fun part. Select from thick white udon wheat noodles or thin earthy soba buckwheat noodles. A spoon will not do for this loaded soup. Chopsticks are the way to go! $6.99-$9.50.
FRENCH ONION SOUP GRATINE
Patrick’s Bakery & Café
In France, onion soup is a mainstay meal. Americans add “French” to the name, but its charm is universal. At Patrick’s, onion soup stays true to its continental origins. Slow-cooked onions in housemade chicken or veal stock require only a touch of salt and pepper. Toasted French bread and a topping of caramelized mozzarella cheese makes a regal finish. Basic ingredients transform this dish into a gourmet experience. French onion soup gratine is a straightforward, time-tested dish. “The best things are simple,” says owner Patrick Bernet. $6.
MINNESOTA WILD RICE SOUP
The nostalgia for old-time food passes from generation to generation. Wild rice soup is a beloved Minnesota classic. The namesake dish is always on the menu at the Lakeshore Grill. “Wild rice for this region is huge for us,” says area director for menu development Susan Johnson. Erroneously called rice, the grainy grass seed is part of our heritage, with Native American origins. Imagine hand-harvesting wild rice in the marshy waters up north. It’s the stuff of legends, outdoorsy living and wholesome eating. It’s only fitting to put wild rice into soup. Macy’s version hails from the Dayton’s retail days and was published in the cookbook, Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dayton’s, Marshall Field’s, Hudson’s. The thick, creamy soup has a hearty mix of whipping cream, tender chicken and chewy wild rice with a hint of sherry. A scatter of toasted almonds offers a contrasting crunch. With a delightfully crackly-eggy popover and honey butter alongside, a complete Midwestern meal is assured. Just what you need to power up for some indoor fall shopping.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
The fall harvest brings a bounty of butternut squash and seasonal soup. In a nod to the farm-to-table movement, Patisserie Margo snares a supply of squash from a local farm. The squash lasts through the cold months and provides the base for a mouthwatering autumn-inspired dish. It’s a substantial soup with a very slight kick from ginger, says Sam Bredeson, head baker and soup maker. A touch of cream brings out subtle flavors and smooths the texture into liquid velvet. A side of fresh, toothsome French bread makes a useful sponge. Soak up every drop. The butternut squash soup appears a few times a month until the squash is gone. 12-ounce $6, quart $13.
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Can soup bring good luck? Italian wedding soup is said to do so. In Italy, it’s a custom at weddings, according to Michael “Sal” Salvatore. As owner of Sal’s Café, he proudly serves the dish in a rotating menu of soups. The recipe came from his Italian grandmother. “It was a winter dish, always a good hearty dish. The meatballs are the best,” he says. Every ingredient has an Italian note: small hand-rolled meatballs, folds of cavatappi pasta and bits of escarole leaves cook down in housemade chicken stock. A topping of grated Romano cheese makes the broth slightly creamy. Does the soup contain garlic? “Is the pope Catholic? If it is Italian, it’s got garlic in it,” says Salvatore. Cup $3.50, bowl $4.50.
BAKED POTATO BACON SOUP
With meat and potatoes serving as the cornerstone of many meals, it only seems fitting to have the pairing in a soup. Enter the baked potato bacon soup. Ordinary fixings simmer into an extraordinary soup tasty enough to justify a second bowl. The soup is all-natural and with a clean profile, according to senior marketing manager Phillip Higgs: “A lot of care is given to the ingredients.” The baked potato bacon is one of many soups featured in a rotating menu and appears more often during cool weather. Enjoying soup is convenient here. A hot bar features six soups daily and pre-packed to-go containers are in the deli cooler. Soup bar small $4.49, medium $5.99, large $9.99.