Is there anything as satisfying in winter as a bowl of soup?
Soup, for the most part, is simple and quick to make, easy to reheat, hearty, and, best of all, hot, hot, hot. It’s also one of the best grab-and-go options since it holds up so well in various forms and temperatures.
At Pho Tay Ho, co-owners Hoang “Mama” Mai and her daughter Michelle Nguyen have figured out the best way to package the pho so it tastes just as fresh when a customer arrives home as it would at the restaurant, which is closed to the public to protect Mama Mai from COVID-19.
“The noodles and the beef are already placed into a plastic bowl, so it’s pretty much ready to eat once you get home. You’ve just got to pour the broth in it,” Nguyen said, noting that noodles that sit too long will begin to lose their texture.
Nguyen said diners also can request raw noodles to boil at home — “that way it’s more fresh, and it’s like the restaurant experience.”
Like Pho Tay Ho, each of the Utah restaurants and businesses below offers a variety of options — whether you want soup now or later (or way later).
Blue Lemon, a fast-casual Utah chain, has “something for everyone,” said Christie Marinari, brand development manager. That includes four soups — lemon chicken and gnocchi, tomato bisque, butternut squash, and French onion — made from scratch daily with fresh ingredients at Blue Lemon’s commissary to ensure consistency across all its stores.
Diners can select a cup ($3) or bowl ($5), both of which come with pesto focaccia toast, or add soup to their sandwiches or entrees ($2 cup, $4 bowl). If you want takeout, there are quart ($14) and gallon ($50) options for all soups except the French onion, which is available through its catering menu.
Marinari recommends the butternut squash soup, one of Blue Lemon’s top-selling items. “It’s something we’re really known for. ... It is very sweet, but people love it,” she said. “Some people say it’s like a dessert soup.”
Blue Lemon • Locations in Salt Lake City, Highland, Cottonwood Heights, Sandy and Farmington. Visit https://bluelemon.com/ for more information.
Grocery store finds
Harmons Grocery maintains a staggering selection of soup recipes — more than two dozen, according to Ash Cordova, Harmons’ director of deli operations.
But you can find six staples prepackaged in stores every day — tomato basil, beef chili, broccoli cheddar, turkey cheddar jalapeno, Impossible chili, and turkey noodle ($7 for 24 ounces, $10 for the Impossible chili) — in addition to a vegetarian option and a seasonal soup.
At any given time, however, stores can carry more than eight varieties, Cordova said.
Although Harmons closed its self-serve hot soup bars due to COVID-19, Cordova said stores are testing electric kettles from which staff can serve hot soup.
Cordova’s favorites include the blazing squash chili and Italian sausage and veggie, although she does receive frequent requests for the minestrone, stuffed bell pepper, and clam chowder. All are made from scratch.
“We do have a soup chef,” she said, " and we make [the soups] in each and every store every day.”
Looking for a deal? Harmons offers a $5 special on one 24-ounce soup a week. Foodie Club members also can sign up for text messages about daily deals.
Harmons Grocery • Locations in Draper, Salt Lake City, Kearns, Holladay, Riverton, Midvale, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Valley City and more. Visit https://shop.harmonsgrocery.com/shop/categories/759 for more information.
Menudo like mama’s
Not only is soup flavorful and filling, it “warms your heart,” La Casa Del Tamal co-owner Frida Guerrero said. Sounds perfect for these wintry days.
The Mexican restaurant offers several soups, or caldos, which are served with handmade corn tortillas, cilantro, onions, limes and salsa. Guerrero said her father and co-owner, Carlos Villa, prepares the menudo, caldo de res, birria de res and caldo de borrego (all $10.85), and the broth for the caldo 7 mares ($14.85) and caldo camaron ($11.85) in the morning, but cooks the seafood for the latter two to order.
Guerrero recommends the menudo, a red chili pepper-based broth with cow’s stomach, or the caldo de res, a beef soup with squash, corn, carrots, cabbage and potatoes. The menudo, which she said the Latino community traditionally eats on the weekend, is popular for its flavor, which takes “a good amount of time” to develop.
“All of the soups ... taste homemade, as if [our diners] were going to their grandma’s house or mom’s house,” Guerrero said. “And that’s what distinguishes our soup.”
La Casa Del Tamal • 2843 S. 5600 West, West Valley City; 385-266-8729; https://www.lacasadeltamalutah.com; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Park City pick-me-up
Want soup now? Later? Just a cup? Enough for a family of four? Luna’s Kitchen in Park City can handle it all.
The grab-and-go menu — for hot or cold pickup — currently includes chili, chicken noodle, butternut curry squash bisque, and creamy tomato (starting at $9 a pint, $35 for a family of four), while the small-bites menu features the same items — hot — by the cup ($4.50-$5). You can also order select soups frozen by the quart ($18), as well as a Thai red curry broth ($32).
General Manager Stacy Smyth said the butternut curry squash bisque, made with coconut milk, is a customer favorite. It’s different, she said, “it being curry, it being creamy, and it being vegan.”
The chili also is vegan, although customers have the option to add a protein, including herb-marinated chicken or braised short rib, for an additional fee. All the soups are gluten-free.
Luna’s Kitchen • 1400 Snow Creek Drive, Suite L, Park City; 435-731-8383; https://www.lunaskitchenparkcity.com; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Steak and noodle perfection
Pho Tay Ho specializes in the Vietnamese rice noodle soup with various cuts of beef, although chicken and vegetarian options also are available.
Nguyen recommends combination No. 18, or pho with steak, flank and brisket, for new customers, or No. 13 for those who prefer a leaner cut of beef.
“And for people that are very used to pho, or they want to be more adventurous,” Nguyen said, “then I would recommend the house special,” which includes steak, flanks, brisket, tripe, tendon meatballs.
All orders come with bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapenos, limes, hoisin sauce, sriracha and chili oil. Currently, the restaurant offers only the to-go size (starting at $8.50) — the same as a large bowl — through curbside service.
Pho Tay Ho • 1766 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 385-240-0309; https://photayho.com; 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Text messages preferred for curbside pickup.
Thai one on
Sawadee Thai Restaurant offers a range of fragrant soups, piping hot with various ingredients and flavors. Lunch specials ($9.75 for two entrees) include the chicken coconut soup and chicken hot and sour soup, which are served with a salad, jasmine rice and a fried spring roll (pick two).
The dinner menu, from which you can order all day, features hot and sour shrimp soup ($7.45 bowl), hot and sour seafood combination soup, chicken coconut soup ($5.95 bowl), tofu soup (with chopped pork), and cabbage soup that serve three to four people ($12.95-$18.95).
The vegetarian menu also includes the coconut soup ($6.45 bowl), spicy and sour soup ($6.45 bowl), and tofu soup for three to four people ($12.95).
Owner Wilat Mongkolprasit recommends the coconut soup, or tom kha gai, which includes a choice of protein, cilantro, galangal, garlic, green onion, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and mushrooms. The slightly sweet dish, often served over rice, is one of Sawadee’s best sellers, he said.
Sawadee Thai • 754 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City; 801-328-8424; http://www.sawadee1.com/index.html; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 5-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Blended Table this year pivoted from catering events to producing family-size menus that serve about two to eight people, including a rotation of seasonal cold and frozen soups available for pickup.
Co-owner Emery Lortsher called the frozen soups a good opportunity to stock up on quick, simple meals. “I have multiples in my freezer, because it’s just easy.”
Frozen soups ($10) — such as curry lentil, potato leek and rosemary cannellini — can be picked up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Weekly specials ($12) — such as roasted tomato and herbs, and red pepper and mascarpone — are posted by Friday afternoon for pickup the next Thursday-Friday. Both options come in 32-ounce containers, although the weekly soups fill a mason jar.
Lortsher said stews also are on the radar for the “bitter cold of winter ... when people want something a little bit heartier.”
The Blended Table • 925 Jefferson St. West, Salt Lake City; 801-328-8138; https://www.theblendedtable.com. Open Tuesday-Friday.
Chicken noodle and more
Open since 1976, The Soup Kitchen is somewhat of a Salt Lake Valley institution for reasonably priced soups and sandwiches.
Although inventory can vary among locations, the menu usually includes chicken noodle, cheddar cheese broccoli, cream of tomato, New England clam chowder, spicy beef chili, split pea with ham and vegetable beef ($2.89, 8 ounces; $4.49-$4.89, 16 ounces; $8.99, quart).
Soups come with two to five breadsticks, depending on order size.
Soup also can be purchased as an add-on to a salad or sandwich ($1.79, 8 ounces; $3, 16 ounces).
Owner Stuart Aitken recommends the chicken noodle, which features homemade dumpling-style egg noodles, carrots and celery. Lately, he’s also promoting the vegetable beef soup, made with bone broth, which he said helps boost the body’s immune system.
The Soup Kitchen Restaurants & Catering • Locations in Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Sugar House. Visit https://ordering.app/thesoupkitchenrestaurants/ for more information.