Soup season goes on and on in Seattle, but we're surely>"/>
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Soup season goes on and on in Seattle, but we're surely in the thick of it. These are the weeks when it feels perfectly reasonable to have pho for breakfast, tomato soup for lunch and mulligatawny for supper.
*See Also Seattle's Top 10 Teriyaki Counters
Fortunately, there's no shortage of great soups in Seattle from which to assemble your menu plans. Here, our picks for the 10 best of them, listed -- as always -- in no particular order, with contributors' comments compiled by Erin Thompson. And try not to get too hung up on the accompanying images: Most of them don't match the soups listed here, which gives you a sense of how many handsome soups are out there for the sampling.
PCC's hot food bar and deli is a quick and high quality option for those nights when you're too tired to cook. Their selection of soups is a popular favorite, and the beef minestrone is always a winner. It's hearty and stuffed with fresh veggies (celery, onion, carrots, tomatoes) plus two kinds of beans (kidney and garbanzo), and a few tasty extras that make all the difference--red wine, parmesan rind, fresh basil. Of course, this being PCC, a good percentage of the many ingredients are organic.
9. Cream of mushroom, Budapest Bistro
The wonderful food at Budapest Bistro is so authentic that it routinely draws nostalgic tears from Eastern European expats, and has helped make this ethnic Lynnwood bistro the default meeting spot for the Austria Club of Washington. Hungary is rainy in the summer and snowy in the winter, which may explain the national affection for soup. Budapest Bistro's velvety mushroom soup with the alluring fattiness of slow-cooked pot-roast gravy is especially good. Thick and creamy, the stout soup is bolstered by a paprika tang and seeded with bits of carrots and diminutive pasta shells.
Buddha Ruksa is remarkably delicious and affordable, one of the premier Thai restaurants in a city full of them. Their tom kha makes for both a tasty meal and an effective cold cure--the milky coconut broth is bright with hot and sour flavors, herbally infused with the fresh tang of cilantro, galanga, kaffir lime leaves, and lemon grass, and they don't skimp on the mushrooms, either.
Saimin Says is Kent's Hawaiian plate-lunch storefront named for the islands' indigenous noodle soup. The saimin broth is lip-swellingly salty, and grows more so as matchsticks of Spam, scrawls of darkly roasted pork, and strips of fish cake wallow in it. The Papa Jim Min, perhaps the best saimin on a list of a dozen different preparations, scores texture points with creamy patches of scrambled egg and a flurry of crisp green onions. The soup needs nothing, but the kitchen makes a dazzling, sunshiny hot sauce that would be silly to ignore.
For eaters who fancy themselves above the tourist fray, Elliott's Oyster House's enviable waterfront location, location, location are the three biggest problems afflicting the seafood institution. Prospective diners have to navigate through a scrum of pleasure-boat ticket holders just to reach the front door, but serious bivalve lovers shouldn't be deterred. The white clam chowder is almost a mandatory choice--it has a lovely light creaminess, and you'll get clam meat with every spoonful. And a bowl of it plus a Caesar salad is just $9.
Hana on Broadway is known for across-the-board quality sushi, as well as a well-deserved reputation for outstanding service and affordability. There's also a good selection of hot food on the menu, including a few varieties of udon--nabeyaki, curry--but the most satisfying version is the simplest, the tempura udon. The broth has a deep, rich flavor that you can choose to augment with spices, the noodles are fresh and thick, and the shrimp that floats on top is fried just right in a crisp and light tempura batter.
Le Pichet's popular gratin Lyonnais is the same delicious soupe a l'oignon gratinee served at Cafe Presse, masquerading under a fancier name. It's a tasty variety that uses chicken instead of beef stock, thickened with comté cheese and sourdough from Ballard's Tall Grass Bakery. It's thick and filling enough to serve as a meal on its own rather than a starter.
Pho So 1 serves an outstanding pho, distinguished by a vigorous beefiness. To assuage any doubts about the origins of the broth's full-bodied flavor, they plate the long-simmering beef shanks they fish out of their enormous pho pot. The meaty, marrow-filled bones are caveman comfort food. And the soup is extraordinarily balanced: Fresh scallions give the soup a good snap, and the noodles are clearly articulated.
The small café with a simple sign of peeling letters saying only "Canton Wonton Hou," and a menu that reads "Noodle in soup (Hong Kong style)" offers cuisines consisting of every imaginable combination of the house dumplings and fish balls, served with wheat or rice noodles, in a broth glittering with oil droplets. The wonton soup with tender beef brisket is a particularly rich and meaty variety--just don't forget to order double wontons, because three dumplings a bowl won't be enough.
If you've mastered Subway, you're ready for King Noodle, which assembles wonderfully warming soups according to your specifications. There are half-a-dozen different broths and noodles for mixing and matching; add-ons such as leeks, dumplings and mushrooms and every conceivable meat, from roasted duck to tripe. It would take a very sophisticated abacus to calculate all the possible noodle, meat and trimming combinations at King, but a base of spicy Sichuan broth is especially fine when garnished with smoky brisket and meaty roast duck.