Compiled By Jennifer Uhl
»No sandwich or salad comforts quite like a bowl of soup, and while we’d never pass up a simple cup of chicken noodle, it’s a good season to try something new. Here, four of our favorites to warm you up through the dark days of winter.
Suzy’s Teahouse & Bakery, 25 E. Court St., Franklin, suzysteahouse.com
It’s not easy to make it past the case of baked goods at this relative newcomer to the courthouse square — particularly the cinnamon breakfast muffins and peanut butter bars — but it’s worth the wait to sample at least one of owner Karen Susie Buckler’s housemade soups first. At the request of regulars who stop in to enjoy any one of her 30 teas or tisanes, she began serving soup this fall. While she doesn’t have a daily rotation down yet, one thing is certain: Each soup will be completely and deliciously gluten-free. Take the chili (available every day). The basic mixture of ground beef, tomatoes, onions and beans also includes spaghetti noodles (a staple of many an Indiana mother’s chili recipe), but the noodles are gluten-free, as is the accompanying cornbread. Buckler (gluten-free herself) knows how many people feel about gluten-free food, but she’s out to change their minds. Don’t believe her? Just try one of the mouth-watering mini pies for dessert. Like everything else in the bakery case and on the lunch menu, they’re also gluten-free.
Dublin Coddle (Irish Stew)
McGilvery’s Taphouse, 8249 U.S. 31 S, Indianapolis, mcgilverystaphouse.com
Recently celebrating its one-year anniversary in an expanded location, McGilvery’s Taphouse touts a renewed focus on authentic Irish food made daily, resulting in a growing word-of-mouth reputation around the southside. When we heard about the pub’s Dublin Coddle (Irish Stew) through several social media shout-outs, we just had to give it a try. Said to be a Hoosier spin on an Irish classic, this stew offers a mix of house sausage and jowl bacon, cozied up to potatoes, carrots and celery in a rich Guinness cream broth and served with an Irish potato roll on the side. We’re now convinced: No proper Irish meal is complete without a cup of this stew — and the no-frills pub’s housemade Scotch eggs, of course. McGilvery’s is casual and low key; regulars sidle up to the bar each night for a craft beer on tap and a selection of half-pound burgers, shepherd’s pie or bangers and colcannon (cabbage). And if all of that isn’t enough? There’s karaoke on the weekends.
Hal’s Fabulous Vegas Bar + Grill, 1133 State Road 135, Greenwood, halsvegas.com
Hal’s Fabulous Vegas Bar + Grill is as well known for its strip-worthy neon sign as Sin City is for its famous “what happens” tagline. But most southsiders don’t realize Hal’s boasts some super soups to go along with the glitzy-meets-Rat Pack decor. Owners Hal and Carol Yeagy (also owners of the Slippery Noodle Inn) have won Taste of the Southside’s best soup award a number of times for the lobster bisque, served by executive chef Abdul Qadir. The longtime staple starts with a mirepoix (a sauteed base of chopped vegetables), shallot, garlic, tomato paste, Old Bay seasoning, lobster, and — the essential part of any bisque — heavy cream. Once everything is blended to a smooth consistency, the rich bisque has “a velvety mouth feel,” Qadir says. But don’t go for dinner on a Tuesday expecting to order a bowl. Like the penthouse suite at the Palms, the bisque is exclusive, served on Friday evenings alone.
Roasted Red Pepper
Benjamin’s Coffeehouse, 49 E. Court St., Franklin, benjaminscoffeehouse.com
You won’t be disappointed by any of the soups on Benjamin’s large chalkboard menu, but if the roasted red pepper isn’t sold out, owner Ben Ashley might try to steer you toward it, and with good reason: He claims it’s the best, and judging by the number of lunch-goers who tried to order it on a recent visit, it seems he’s right. (Alas, the day’s batch was gone shortly after noon.) But if you get there early enough Tuesday through Saturday (Benjamin’s is closed Sunday and Monday), the “little lady in the back” — also known as Sherry Wilson — will be busy blending roasted red peppers with heavy cream for the next lunch crowd. It’s that simple, but that good. Pair it with half a panini and cozy up to a table in the back to avoid the growing line of other soup-seekers.