Soup Countdown #1: Tom Kha at Pearl Cafe

January is National Soup Month, which makes sense, considering the first month of the year is typically marked with below-freezing temperatures, snow and slush. What's better than a delicious, hot bowl of soup on a chilly day? A delicious, hot bowl of soup that you don't have to make -- that's what. This January Gut Check will revisit some of our favorite hot soups to help guide your belly through this month-long soup celebration.

Tom kha soup at Pearl Cafe - Kaylen Wissinger
Kaylen Wissinger
Tom kha soup at Pearl Cafe

When your taste buds have a hankering for something a little spicy and a little sour, head to Florissant for the tom kha soup at Pearl Cafe (8416 North Lindbergh Boulevard, Florissant; 314-831-3701).

Traditionally, tom kha soup is found in Lao and Thai cuisine. In the coconut milk broth you might seafood, pork, chicken or (in Gut Check's case) tofu.

When Gut Check stopped by Pearl Cafe on one unseasonably warm January day, soup initially seemed to be an odd choice. But the kicks of chile, curry and galangal lingered in our mouths and warmed our hearts the whole way home.

The coconut-milk base gives Pearl Cafe's tom kha a beautifully cream-like consistency. Lemongrass, mushrooms, green onions and kaffir lime leaves swin in the orange and red broth, which is dotted with tofu (chicken is also available). The initial taste is spicy, but it quickly gives way to a pleasantly sour jolt.

No matter the weather here in Saint Louis, tom kha is the perfect accompaniment to your day.

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