Versus: The Ides of Starch

Baked potatoes, souped-up.

The Dish: Neither a bowl of soup nor a baked potato, on its own, typically constitutes an entire meal. But what if they joined forces, a la Cagney and Lacey, Abbott and Costello, or LeBron and Dwyane? Turns out they already have, and baked-potato soup absolutely suffices as a filling supper should you be in the mood for such all-American fusion. So between a grocery store and a soup house, which had the winning spud, and which was a dud? The Rivals: Nana's Soup House, 225 N. 36th St., 829-9416, FREMONT. Nana's is a quaint little house turned soup kitchen in Fremont. It's cozy, warm, and smells good when you walk in. After that, things get a little fuzzy. Do we seat ourselves? Do we order at the cash register? Someone tell us where to go! How we placed our order may be hazy (you order at the register), but we do remember staring at a blackboard filled with scrumptious-sounding soups. The selection rotates fairly often, but the soup that stays the same is Nana's most popular: baked potato, a heavy, cream-based soup with potatoes (skins and all), cheddar cheese, and green onions, served with two slices of rustic potato bread. A cup will run you $3 and some change. Our soup tasted all right. It was a little too milky and there wasn't much depth of flavor, but it did taste like baked potatoes. We just wish we'd been able to detect more of the toppings, like the cheese and chives. QFC, 4550 42nd Ave. S.W., 923-6390, WEST SEATTLE. We've got to give it to QFC—they make good, palate-pleasing soups. Not only were people swarming around the six varieties the Alaska Junction location had on tap when we arrived Saturday afternoon, but the store was nearly out of several flavors. Luckily, we got to the loaded baked potato before the pot ran dry. A generous cup of this soup was well worth the $3.29 we paid. It's loaded with large chunks of russet potatoes and everything else we love on our baked potato: cheddar, minced onions, butter, bacon, and chives. This soup's whole-milk base gives it a nice, silky texture—not too runny and not too thick, with a consistency almost like a melted cheese sauce. The sprinkling of bacon adds a soothing, smoky taste, while the cheddar delivers a richness we did not expect. Our only complaint is that there's a bit of a synthetic cheese taste to this soup, like the stuff that comes out of a pump at 7-Eleven. The artificial flavor wasn't so off-putting that it ruined our lunch, but it was noticeable. The Champ: Nana's has a great lineup of soups on their menu, and we have every intention of going back to try their seasonal pumpkin and broccoli cheddar. But when it came to their baked-potato soup, we were not impressed. We found it too bland for our taste. We do appreciate that their soups come with bread, a necessity when you're eating hot liquid. QFC's loaded baked-potato soup doesn't come with a starchy counterpart, but it does come with loads of flavor, which left us surprisingly insatiable. We don't know how much TLC went into the making of this large-batch soup, but it's good. QFC for the win. jperry@seattleweekly.com

 
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