Our Twelve Favorite Local Soups | Dish | Indy Week
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Our Twelve Favorite Local Soups 

We've hit a beautiful moment in this finicky Southern climate, where, finally, cool breezes welcome more generous appetites. With a hankering for the warming foods we've missed, we present our favorite soups around the Triangle. Indulge with us as we pack it on for the winter.

DUCK CONGEE

Lantern

423 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

www.lanternrestaurant.com

Ah, the elusive duck congee. If you have it once, you'll forever peek your head inside the restaurant's door to ask what its daily,fresh-made soup is, fiending for it. Lantern's take on the traditional Chinese breakfast rice porridge includes pickled mustard greens, pulled roasted duck, and crunchy duck cracklings. I've never had a bad soup there, but this one gets me howling like an alley cat down Franklin Street. –Eryk Pruitt

CALABRIAN ONION SOUP

Toast

345 West Main Street, Durham

www.toast-fivepoints.com

An indecisive scan of Toast's chalkboard menu, followed by a flood of memory of a Tar Heel point guard (Dante Calabria!) precipitated my first order of this deep, tomato-toned soup about which I knew nothing. Innumerable orders followed. Orange-hued oil beads against the surface with an elastic web of cheese on top. A submerged crostini sponges deep, warm flavors off the bottom of the bowl. Thank you, Dante Calabria, for accidentally showing me the way. –Matt Poindexter

CHOWDA

Saltbox Seafood Joint

608 North Mangum Street, Durham

www.saltboxseafoodjoint.com

While the memory of summer fades, we can taste the beach in a warming chowda from Saltbox. Chef creates them on a whim, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, depending on seafood availability. Last week's offer began as a slightly buttered crab roux simmered in a shellfish broth-turned-chowder, thickened by cauliflower and emulsified olive oil (no cream). Big chunks of dogfish, hominy kernels, and fresh-cut herbs bounce in the cup, topped with a couple of Instagram-worthy crab claws. –Victoria Bouloubasis

VEGAN CHICKENAND WILD RICE

The Remedy Diner

137 East Hargett Street, Raleigh

www.theremedydiner.com

Whenever I was sick as a kid, I would only eat two things: ramen noodles (the ten-cent packages) or chicken and rice soup. I've since become a vegetarian, and that second flavor has been hard to come by—until I found Remedy's brothy vegan chicken and wild rice soup (with a healthy helping of carrots, celery, and onion). They only have it once every couple of weeks. But good news for vegetarians: the soup of the day at Remedy is always vegetarian. –Paul Blest

SPICY COCONUT SOUP

Thai Cafe

2501 University Drive, Durham

www.thaicafenc.com

Durham's Thai Cafe is not a secret, and neither is its coconut soup. Both are indefatigably reliable. Dip into the milky broth dotted with chili oil and catch the micro tofu cubes as they bounce on the spoon. Delicate slivers of chive stems are dwarfed beside large chunks of baby portabella mushrooms. A sweet beginning on the apex of the tongue trails to mild spice that pleasantly scratches the back of the throat. This is everything a soup should be: a serious comfort. –Blanche Brown

NORTHSIDE NOODLES

Northside District

403 West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill

www.thenorthsidedistrict.com

This hidden storefront up Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill's West End hides the Triangle's best kept secret: a delicious noodle bowl served until 2 a.m. Served with crunchy carnitas (chicken or soy also available), muddy broth, fried shallots, and wilted gai lan, there may be nothing better to slap sense into your whiskey-dulled taste buds as you amble closer to last call and your Uber ride home. –Eryk Pruitt

SHOYU RAMEN

Dashi

415 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham

www.dashiramen.com

What makes Dashi worth revisiting is the way surprising Southern ingredients pop up. On the current menu, I love the spears of pickled green beans tucked around the rim of the Shoyu ramen, how their bright, green crispness cuts through the big funk and fat of soy sauce and roasted pork. Who knew a bowl of Japanese noodles could take you back to a jar of dilly beans from childhood, picked off a general store shelf? At Dashi, it will. –Matt Poindexter

ASH RESHTEH

Sage Cafe

1129 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill

www.sagevegcafe.com

In an unassuming strip mall, this classic Persian soup immediately transports me back to my childhood home, where ash reshteh bubbled in a massive pot to welcome Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Thanks to Sage Cafe you can snag a bowl all year round. Slurp-able flat noodles—"reshteh"—swirl around in a savory onion and turmeric broth loaded with herbs like cilantro, chives, and mint and hearty kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Order a big bowl of this vegan dish and share with the table. –Susie Locklier

CURRIED CHICKPEA STEW

Sandwhich

407 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

www.sandwhich.biz

Sandwhich knocks it out of the park with a menu to please everyone, especially with its daily, scratch-made soup offerings. The curried chickpea stew, for one, deftly mingles many bold flavors within a thin tomato broth. Sharp and piquant, the spices hit the tongue with a host of question marks that quickly transform to exclamation points. –Eryk Pruitt

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

Dos Taquitos

6101 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh

www.dostaquitosnorth.com

The most miserable head cold I've ever had hit me the morning before a Saturday "date night" with my wife. A waiter at Dos Taquitos recommended a bowl of the restaurant's signature chicken tortilla soup. The broth conjured up memories of my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup, adding spicy notes, paired with creamy, cool, fresh avocado slices as a garnish. And for balance: the crunch of fried tortilla strips. My sinuses were clear by the time the entrée arrived—and "date night" was back on. –Ken Fine

SOONDUBU JJIGAE

Seoul Garden4701 Atlantic Avenue, Raleigh

www.raleighseoulgarden.com

You'll need to sift through the menu at Seoul Garden—a restaurant known mainly for Korean BBQ—to find this hidden gem: soondubu jjigae. A spicy broth is loaded with extra soft tofu and your choice of add-ins (my choice: kimchi and beef). Once it arrives at your table, crack an egg into it to level up the flavor. Bonus: the myriad of rotating banchan (side dishes) served alongside it. - Jordan Chavis

RASAM

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe

431 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

www.curryblossom.com

Vimala Rajendran's rasam is better classified as an elixir. While working at Curryblossom for nearly two years, I often kept a small thermos of rasam underneath the cash register during the winter months, to sip away any potential cold. The broth is much like a spider web—delicate in its form, strong in its purpose. Tamarind, garlic, ginger, and lots of sharp Malabar black pepper give rasam a nourishing depth of flavor and a healing magic. -Victoria Bouloubasis

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