20 September 2006

For the Love of Soup

Any cook knows the foundation to soup is the stock or broth. It's the base for everything else that's poured in the pot; the blank canvas, if you will, on which to paint the spectrum of flavors and textures that makes a well-composed soup.

When I eat soup, it's the broth, and only the broth, that I think about. The rest—meat, vegetables, and noodles—is just dressing in the bowl. Get me with the liquid, be it creamy or clear, and you have me all the way. It will be my perfect body warming, soul stirring soup. I will love it forever and think about it always until I find another to take my taste away.

All kinds of soup can vie for my affection—chowder, chunky, Chinese noodle. I have a roaming eye and I don't play favorites. Be it in a cup to my side salad or sandwich, a first course in a big dinner, or as the whole meal, I like them all.

I met my ideal tomato soup at Doughboys where they served it in a vat-size bowl with a grilled cheese sandwich—the combo is called their “after-school special”. The consistency was the perfect balance of velvety creaminess and hearty chunkiness. Caramelized onions added a touch of sweetness and further warmed me to the soup as they simultaneously brightened and mellowed the tomato flavor. It was love at first spoonful, sealed with bites of grilled cheese.

On another day, I ordered a cup of corn chowder at the Bluebird Bakery to supplement my croissant and egg sandwich. Made with fresh ingredients—the corn kernels still had their bite—the chowder was light, but not thin. It was the sandwich with the croissant, egg, cheese, and bacon that was heavy and very substantial.

And most recently, there was the big bowl of beef noodle soup at the Mandarin Deli. While the broth was definitely beefy, I preferred a richer broth that has other notes beside meat essence. Maybe some star anise to strengthen and broaden the flavors would be my suggestion if I were to play the bossy, backseat cook. Though I will throw some praise for the handmade noodles; they were pleasantly thick and chewy.

“I live on good soup, not on fine words.” Moliere

Doughboys Bakery
8136 W Third St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 651-4202

Bluebird Bakery
572 National Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 841-0939

Mandarin Deli
727 N Broadway Ste 109
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 623-6054

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Anonymous paz said...

I never used to like soups, until I started cooking. I made a corn and crab chowder a few months ago. Loved it! The soups you've posted here look good. ;-)


9/23/2006 5:56 AM  
Blogger munki said...

the beef noodle soup looks really tasty...i'll have to go check out mandarin deli. any other recs for beef noodle soup around town? i get occasional cravings, but have no idea where to go.

9/23/2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

hmmm, corn and crab chowder....

makes me think of the corn and crab soup my grandmother made for me when i was young.

helllo paz, i'm fond of crab and your chowder sounds yummy.

and hi munki. as for beef noodle soup.... i don't know too many places. there's heavenly noodle in monterey park, but it's been years since i've been.

kim chuey is another noodle shop in downtown la—same mall as mandarin deli. they work more with rice and egg noodles vs. flour noodles. i've been once and would go again.

if you go to the mandarin deli, i would also recommend their fish dumplings.

: ) b p

9/25/2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger Eat, Drink & said...

Hi blue plate,

i swear we have the same taste in food. All 3 of the places, I love. I like the part about backseat chef... MND is taiwanese style and doesn't really use star anise/five spice powder like in China. But i still think both are good. When i make my beef noodle soup, i do taiwanese style. I used to be heavy on the star anise/five spice but have since then grown to love the spicier chili paste style.

Doughboy's... everything is good there. And I'm not even a big sandwich guy. Their soups and bread are absolutely great.

Bluebird makes quality food. I've only eaten their breakfast panini, but it was perfect.

Nice posting.

10/06/2006 1:34 PM  
Blogger Eat, Drink & said...

To Munki, there are several places for beef noodle soup- mainly in the San Gabriel Valley area. It really depends on what you're into. There are many kinds: taiwanese style which is more brothy, mainland china style which is usually really oily and spicy, etc. I recommend Mei Long Village for spicy/oily and Noodle King for taiwanese style. Both are on valley blvd. (san gabriel and alhambra, respectively.).

Blue Plate, i just realized that i was referring to the wrong Mandarin Deli. The one I eat at is in Temple City called Mandarin NOODLE Deli. Sorry for the mix-up. Here's my posting on it:


10/06/2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

hi eat, drink, & be merry,

glad to see you here again. thanks for reading and posting—all the restaurant suggestions sound great.

your "noodle whore" site is a wonderful resource. although i don't make it out to the eastside—alhambra, monterey park etc...—as much as i (and my tummy) would like, i still enjoy having the knowledge.

happy slurping to you—and all the asian noodle lovers wielding chopsticks around la.

: ) b p

10/13/2006 2:55 PM  

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