Since February, I've been sharing my 100 Favorite St. Louis Dishes. From time to time, I'll highlight groups of these dishes that fit together some way. Today, five fantastic soups.
Onion Soup at Brasserie by Niche
Onion soup might be a cliché, but when it is done right, few dishes are more satisfying. Brasserie at Niche nails it: Gruyère browned on top and gooey underneath, silken stock, caramelized onions.
Brasserie by Niche
4580 Laclede Avenue; 314-454-0600
Lobster Bisque at Café Ventana
The secret to the lobster bisque at Café Ventana? Lobster. Not only does the thick bisque taste of lobster, but actual bits of lobster meat bob throughout it. Served with four crackers on the side -- but, really, you need nothing more than the bisque itself.
3919 West Pine Boulevard; 314-531-7500
Gumbo at the Gumbo Shop
Trust Louisiana natives to make a terrific gumbo. A rich roux holds a treasure trove of rice, celery, shrimp and andouille sausage. The spiciness is gradual, but definite -- though never overwhelming.
9501 Manchester Road, Rock Hill; 314-918-8747
Pho at Pho Long
This tiny restaurant specializes in pho, the traditional beef-noodle soup of Vietnam. You can order it with nothing more than thinly sliced eye-round steak or load it up with steak, brisket, meatballs, oxtail, tendon and tripe. The key is the savory-sweet broth and how you doctor it with fresh herbs, jalapeños and lime juice.
8613 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-997-1218
Hot and Sour Soup at Shu Feng Restaurant
The staple of almost every Chinese restaurant, hot and sour soup is a crapshoot. Will it even be hot and sour? Or at least one of the two? The hot and sour soup at Shu Feng is both -- and more: thick with tofu and vegetables, satisfying on its own and an ideal appetizer for the meal to follow.
Shu Feng Restaurant
8435 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-983-0099