Soup Weather

I woke up early Saturday morning to rain thrumming on the roof and pouring down the drain spout outside our bedroom window, and those sounds made me smile. I am an autumn girl, these things make me happy—cool breezy days, scarves, boots, the leaves changing colors on the Gingko trees along the Esplanade, and soup. Glorious, glorious soup.

When rain starts falling from the sky, I send silent thanks up to the weather gods because this means that I can justify having a steaming bowl of soup. My husband is not a big fan of soup, and so I don’t make it at home as much as I would like to—but when it is cold and rainy, I feel justified in saying “Look, babe. It’s soup weather!” I could eat soup at least once per week, even in the summertime, but I know that is just crazy talk. I also realize that by the time this article is published it may be 92 degrees outside again, but this mama has soup on the brain, so bear with me!

I have a pretty solid arsenal of soup recipes that I can whip up at home, but sometimes I lack the motivation to make that magic happen; sometimes all that shopping/chopping/ cooking business is too much to bear. When I’m feeling this way but have soup solidly on my brain, I know of a handful of dependable local places from which to pick up a savory and fragrant bowl of soup to eat at the restaurant or bring home to enjoy—preferably on the couch, wearing yoga pants, with Orange Is The New Black on the telly. On Friday nights at Sierra Nevada Brewery, you can get an amazing, creamy bowl of clam chowder. Bacio Catering, Great Harvest, Wild Oak Cafe, Tin Roof Bakery, and Upper Crust Bakery also offer a few tasty soup options each day.

On Saturday, I picked up a bowl of Cream of Broccoli soup from Wild Oak Cafe. Formerly “Grilla Bites,” the owners just changed the name to break away from the franchise, but the quality of the food and the menu have stayed the same. They usually have three or four soups to choose from and if you are there on a lucky day, they may have as many as six. Saturday’s options were Cream of Broccoli, Chicken and Cheese Enchilada, or Rockin’ Moroccan. I have had all three of these delectable soups before and they are all delicious, but I was feeling a little more on the “healthy” side (cream? what cream?) so I chose the Cream of Broccoli. It was a lovely green hue, pureed to a silky-smooth consistency, delicious and creamy on the tongue. I brought it home and garnished it with a little mound of shredded sharp cheddar and a few chives snipped from the garden.

If you do pick up a bowl of soup to-go, there are so many options for garnishing and dressing it up once you get it home. If you want to add a fresh, herbal note to your soup, try fresh thyme, chives, scallions, parsley, basil, or even a dollop of pesto. For a little crunch, croutons, pepitas, sunflower seeds or even good old crushed-up crackers will do the trick. A drizzle of good olive oil, some red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, salty cheese (think feta, goat, or Parmesan) or bacon (always) will up the flavor-ante to just about any soup.

I promise that we have lots of soup-weather ahead of us, and I hope you will experiment with your favorite bowl of soup and find a garnish that makes your mouth and your belly satisfied and happy.

Jackie is a sometimes food-blogger that is trying to balance the world of mama-hood and her love of food by getting in the kitchen and whipping up edible bits for herself, her husband and her 1 year old and by writing here in this space. She likes to keep it local as much as she can, and you will probably see her cruising the Saturday farmer's market, coffee in hand (always), and chowing down at local restaurants. She braises, she roasts, she can do a mean chiffonade and she firmly believes that bacon and butter make everything better.