By Alison Bailin Batz
The dip in Valley temperatures during winter months doesn’t warrant ski jackets or snow tires. It does, however, give you an excuse to dive into hot, hearty soups – and their history – all month long.
The word soup itself derives from the French word “soupe,” and evidence of the cold-weather favorite can be found dating back to 20,000 B.C. when our ancestors used animal hides to help waterproof vessels so they could boil water needed for the base of their version of soup.
Thankfully, chefs have upgraded both their vessels and recipes over the years. Here are a variety to try this month.
A perfect wintertime favorite starter, this soup features full-bodied flavor and a velvety-smooth texture thanks to a surprisingly simple medley of freshly pureed butternut squash topped with earthy, buttery sauteed oyster mushrooms. $10. www.jgsteakhousescottsdale.com.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Made with the bold flavors of curry and coconut, this chunky vegan soup is perfect for spicing up a chilly day. Lentils round out the dish for a protein-packed bowl that’s even better when used to dunk locally baked Noble bread. $4 (cup) or $8 (bowl). www.phxpublicmarket.com.
The restaurant’s famous recipe is made with pepper jack cheese, boneless country-style pork ribs, onions, jalapenos, dried New Mexico green chiles, and garlic. The sharable dish is served with warm buttered tortillas and a charred serrano pepper on top. $10. www.saltysow.com.
Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup
This is a creamy, spicy, veggie-packed chowder that includes three types of peppers as well as mashed potatoes, corn, salsa, cilantro and Southwest spices. You can also add one of Gadzooks’ house-braised meats, including pork shoulder and bison, to make it even heartier. $5.50. www.gadzooksaz.com.
The Collins Small Batch Kitchen
Available all month long for lunch or dinner, slow-cooked onions and housemade beef stock are topped with a crunchy crouton and bubbling Gruyere cheese, resulting in a savory bowl of comfort. $8. www.thecollinsaz.com.
Slow-simmered, the Posole Rojo is a spicy kick with flavorful, warming layers from the charred tomato and roasted chile-based broth, pork, hominy, lime, jalapeno, onion and cilantro. $9. www.crutacos.com.
Sierra Bonita Grill
Perfect if you’re feeling under the weather, the Azteca Soup is like a Mexican version of a classic chicken noodle soup. A smoky, spicy broth of chipotles, onions, roasted tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock is mixed with slow-roasted chicken, then topped with avocado, cilantro, panela cheese and crispy tortilla strips. $8 (cup) or $11 (bowl). www.sierrabonitagrill.com.
A classic winter veggie – butternut squash – is this soup’s foundation. Pureed roasted poblanos, cumin, coriander and coconut milk are added as well as tri-color hominy and crisp garbanzo beans, all garnished with cilantro oil. $10. www.gertrudesrestaurant.net.
For those who prefer to chill out even when there is a chill out, don’t miss Delux’s gazpacho. The cold soup has a tomato base packed with seasonal vegetables. It’s garnished with avocado and goat cheese for an added dimension of flavor. $7.95. www.deluxburger.com.
The Market by Jennifer’s Restaurant & Bar
Using both pureed and grilled corn, the addition of bacon bits and creme fraiche provide crunch and richness. Garnished with a parsley leaf, this bisque can also be prepared vegetarian-style upon request. $9. www.themarketbyjennifers.com.
Artizen at The Camby
A selection of ingredients with a kick – fire-roasted tomatoes, poblanos, chipotle in adobo, and cumin to name a few – are sauteed in olive oil and simmered in chicken stock. Tortilla chips are then blended in until the soup is thickened. Lime juice brightens the spiced flavor, and it is garnished with fresh avocado, crema and a blue corn crostini made in-house using Hayden Mills blue corn meal. $9. www.artizenaz.com.
To get this iconic dish just right, a five-onion mix is sauteed until caramelized. A rich housemade broth is then added and simmered for hours. Once ordered, freshly cut croutons and Gruyere cheese are the crowning delicacies before it’s baked until melted. $5.95 (cup) or $9.95 (bowl). www.eddiemerlots.com.
This delectable soup is everything you want for your seasonal comfort food. The creamy endive base, topped with caramelized portobello mushrooms, is equal parts earthy and sweet. It’s served with toasted Noble country bread for dipping. $10. www.ogphx.com.
A guest favorite, it’s a creamy, spicy blend of chicken, chipotle, chilies, jalapenos and colorful peppers. A bonus: Guests can order it while dining in, to go, or through the drive-thru window (great for days when it’s too chilly to leave the heated car). $4.25 (cup) or $5.75 (bowl). www.32shea.com.
Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill
Blending traditional comfort food with Asian flair, this savory, slightly spicy soup broth is served with jasmine rice, chicken, cilantro and green onions. It is both oh-so-good and oh-so-gluten-free. $4.25. www.lingandlouies.com.