Editor’s note: Bill of Fare is a feature on St. Paul dining that runs on the first and third Thursday of each month. Capitol Report is building an online dining guide, which is available here.
It’s time to break out the bowls and spoons. Several local eateries offer soups to keep you feeling warm and nourished on chilly fall days.
From chicken noodle soup to borscht, every cuisine has a homey soup made by doting moms. Steven Pen, owner of Cambodian-themed Kolap Restaurant, credits his own mom, Sopheang Phorn, with the authenticity of his restaurant’s fare, including its soups.
“She is the mastermind,” he declares. He says her Siem Reap soup, named for her hometown in Cambodia, is an inspired riff on a traditional soup known as samlar machu yoon. The fish sour soup is a popular choice, especially since New York Times’ reporter Lucas Peterson praised its “powerfully tangy broth” and described it as “the single best thing I ate” on a trip to St. Paul this summer.
With what Executive Chef Todd MacDonald calls “a reinvigorated soup menu,” there’s more reason than ever to try a cup or bowl at Red Cow. New daily featured soups include chili verde, Thai curry sweet potato and smoked bacon, potato and leek. Tomato basil and beer cheese soups are always on the menu. Garnished with popcorn, the beer cheese is made with cheddar and Summit Pale Ale.
“The quality of the beer you use translates to the quality of the soup you’ll get,” MacDonald says. “This beer gives a great sharpness to the soup, and it will warm your soul when it’s cold outside.”
One thing you’ll always find on the menu of The Happy Gnome: chicken wild rice soup. Chef Scott Brink uses homemade chicken stock and portobello mushrooms to add richness to the Minnesota favorite. “It’s nostalgic, well-executed, and it hits the spot,” says his wife and restaurant operations manager, Emily Brink. Tuscan white bean soup, on the menu for autumn, is a cream-based soup topped with crispy kale and ham hocks. Recent daily choices have included tomato bleu cheese, beef chili, and butternut squash carrot ginger. “It’s all about what’s fresh and seasonal,” she says. A popular lunchtime choice is the soup and salad combo, which is a half-salad and a bowl of soup for $12.
“Soup gives us an opportunity to be creative and improvisational,” says Nathan Docken, general manager and executive chef at The Buttered Tin. The Lowertown eatery always offers a soup of the day and tomato basil, served with grilled cheese croutons. Ingredients include San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, yellow onions, red peppers and butter and a “secret ingredient” — feta cheese. “It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, a little bit of everything,” Docken says. “All our soups fit into our philosophy to be scratch-made and as local as possible, and to have fun in our cooking.”
601 Dale St. N.
Type of cuisine: Cambodian
Two most popular soups: Kuy teav (Cambodian noodle soup) and fish sour soup
Cost range of soups: $5.95 to $8.95
Contact info: 651-336-6108
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closest Green Line station: Dale
393 Selby Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to midnight.
Type of cuisine: 21st century tavern
Two most popular soups: Beer cheese and tomato basil
Cost range of soups: $4.50 cup, $6.50 bowl
Closest Green Line station: Western
Delivery: chownow.com and doordash.com
The Buttered Tin
237 Seventh St. E.
Type of Cuisine: Contemporary American breakfast and bakery
Two most popular soups: Tomato basil and loaded baked potato
Cost of soup: $4.95
Contact info: 651-224-2300
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day
Closest Green Line station: Union Depot
The Happy Gnome
498 Selby Ave.
Cuisine: Gastropub with 89 craft beers on tap
Two most popular soups: Chicken wild rice and Tuscan white bean
Cost of soups: $5 cup, $7 bowl
Contact info: 651-287-2018
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Closest Green Line Station: Western or Dale