First published in Courier-Post on January 7, 2020.
The long, grey stretch of winter that typically follows the twinkly, bustling holiday season requires us to be armed with a few essentials.
A binge-worthy “to watch list,’’ a good book, fuzzy slippers and of course, soup.
What you drink with the soup is entirely up to you, although a few of these would pair great with a local craft beer or New Jersey-vinted red.
But the important thing is to find the right soup to keep the chill at bay.
Here are our picks to keep things cozy and bright, whether you binge watch, and at least until it’s time for Super Bowl wings.
Kennett Square Mushroom Soup is from Iron Hill Brewery. (Photo: Courtesy Iron Hill Breweries)
Kennett Square Mushroom, Iron Hill, Maple Shade and Voorhees
The only thing better than a hearty winter soup is a soup made with locally grown produce.
Iron Hill Brewery locations in Voorhees and Maple Shade have just the thing with their bowls of Kennett Square Mushroom Soup, prepared with ’shrooms from the mushroom capital of the world, Kennett Square in Chester County, Pa. This soup is offered with herbed truffle oil ($5 cup/$6.5 bowl), and it goes without saying that you should consider pairing it with an Iron Hill winter brew.
Not a ‘shroom fan? Check out the Louisiana Chicken Gumbo, a traditional Southern gumbo made with Andouille sausage, rice and okra ($5.5 cup / $7.5 bowl).
Go: 124 E. Kings Highway, Maple Shade. 856-273-0300; https://www.ironhillbrewery.com/maple-shade-nj
Go: 13107 Town Center Blvd., Voorhees. 856-545-9009; https://www.ironhillbrewery.com/voorhees-nj
Pork Rib with Lotus Root Soup is on the menu at Taste of Szechuan, Cherry Hill. (Photo: Courtesy Taste of Szechuan)
Pork Rib with Lotus Root Soup, Taste of Szechuan, Cherry Hill
Taste of Szechuan is a cozy oasis to retreat from a suburban winter.
There is a gas-powered fireplace set into one wall and the dining room is also warmed by co-owner WuDan Dan’s hospitality.
This winter, consider tucking into this bountiful, clear soup prepared with scallions.
“The price is $8.95, but it’s good enough for three people sharing it,’’ says Dan Dan, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Chef PinJun Yue.
But don’t stop with the soup, whether you share it or eat the whole bowl. The Szechuan specialties here are worth savoring and will warm up the coldest evening. (Try the DanDan Mein).
Go: Taste of Szechuan, 2091 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill. 856-888-1370 or 1359; http://tasteofszechuantogo.com/
Kielbasa soup from Simply Soups & A Little More in Audubon (Photo: Courtesy Simply Soups & A Little More)
French Onion Soup, Simply Soups & A Little More, Audubon
There’s a reason why French onion soup never disappears off menus, trends come what may.
Unless you have kicked dairy and carbs to the curb for good, it’s tough to pass up an aromatic bowl of cheesy, toasty goodness.
Simply Soups in Audubon recommends their version to beat your winter blues. It is part of the café’s Wednesday soup menu lineup and sounds to us like the perfect way to get over the hump (day).
It is served in either a cup or bowl topped with baked melted cheese. (Cup $3.75, bowl $4.95).
Not a fan of onion soup? Monday to Friday, Simply Soups’s chef/owner Joann Devone offers a choice of seven soups every day, plus a soup of the day.
“All our soups are homemade from family recipes. We also offer our homemade chili on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as beef stew on Monday and Thursday (small $4.75; large $5.95),’’ according to the soup café.
Daily soups and specials are posted on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SimplySoupsAudubon/menu/ and on their website
Go: 301 E. Atlantic Ave, Audubon. 856-546-3939; http://www.simplysoupsaudubon.com/
Matzo ball soup at The Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill is the next best thing to Mom’s. OK, maybe better. (Photo: Courier-Post file)
Matzo Ball Soup, Kibbitz Room, Cherry Hill
If I get a cold, there are two go-tos besides tea and rest: wonton soup and matzoh ball soup. Either one helps me weather the sniffles or a sore throat better than most things I can buy at the pharmacy.
Of course, you don’t have to wait to feel badly to dig into a bowl of matzo ball soup, and where better than the Kibbitz Room?
Prefer wonton soup? No problem. Try the Jewish version, kreplach, for an extra $2.
The deli and restaurant also offers mushroom barley, cabbage, split pea, chicken noodle and vegetable soup. Can’t decide? Order the Mish Mosh for $2 more.
Soups are priced as follows: Small bowl dine-in $5.50; large bowl dine-in $6.50; pint-to-go, $6.50; quart-to-go, $10.
We won’t blame you one bit if you come for the soup and stay for the pastrami on rye, latkes and all the other good stuff on the menu.
Go: 100 Springdale Road, The Shoppes at Holly Ravine, Cherry Hill. 856-428-7878; https://www.greatpastrami.com/
Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup is among the flavors you may find at Naked Lunch in Cherry Hill. (Photo: Tammy Paolino/Courier-Post)
Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup, Naked Lunch, Cherry Hill
Located inside Mom’s Organic Market on Kings Highway, Naked Lunch is named for a William S. Burroughs novel, and he will stare at you while you eat your healthy bowls or sip your fresh organic juice.
Not sure what Burroughs’ soup was, but our favorite at this healthier-than-healthy café is the Caribbean Butternut Squash soup ($5.75).
Soups and some other offerings change often here, so check in to see what’s being featured.
We are also big fans of the Jammed Yam, a bowl of pineapple-quinoa prepared with fresh-cut avocado, sliced jalapenos and jalapeno-lime dressing atop a baked sweet potato, another healthy option for a bitter cold day.
Go: 1631 Kings Hwy North, Cherry Hill. 856-685-5760; https://momsorganicmarket.com/nakedlunch/
Snapper soup at The Pub in Pennsauken. (Photo: Courier-Post File Photo)
Pub Snapper Soup, The Pub, Pennsauken
Philadelphia-style turtle soup is a regional tradition. If you want to start the new decade out with a retro dish, look no further than The Pub for this soup, which is different from the Creole version.
Pub Snapper Soup is made with bits of turkey, not exotic turtle. You can get a cup of the sherry-infused classic for $4.25, or a bowl for $5.25.
Not feeling it? Indulge in some French onion soup instead.
As we said before, resistance is futile in the face of toasty bread and melted cheese.
Still hungry? Settle in and enjoy The Pub favorites: a salad bar with pink apple sauce, zucchini bread and Caesar salad; huge baked potatoes; onion rings; prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and much more.
Go: The Pub is located at 7600 Kaighn Ave., Pennsauken. 856-665-6440; thepubnj.com/
Tammy Paolino covers restaurants, breweries, food trucks and arts events for the USA TODAY New Jersey Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered the Garden State for more than 30 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-486-2477 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.