How better to thaw Portland’s January chill than with a bowl of belly-warming, high-flavor soup?
In the Pearl District, you can sit down to steaming bisques, broths, purees and chowders. Soups come fragrant with winter vegetables and cool-season herbs. Others are thick with beans or pumped up with peppery heat.
All are among the winter warmers simmering on the stoves of the Pearl’s prize restaurant kitchens.
At Park Kitchen, 422 NW Eighth, chef Scott Dolich relishes ingredients uncommon to cold-weather menus.
Instead of winter squash or roasted potatoes, he bets on sunchokes for a silky smooth puree.
“Sunchokes are an extraordinarily versatile vegetable,” he says. “They are particularly well suited to soups and purees due to their high starch content.”
Though sunchokes are hard to find outside of farmers markets, Dolich unearthed two regular sources, allowing the vegetable to become a restaurant staple.
Find the soup occasionally on Park Kitchen’s lunch and dinner menus. Restaurant hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays though Fridays and 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Chef Patrick Miller’s Roasted Poblano Chowder at 50 Plates, opened in August at 333 NW 13th, is an imaginative take on routine clam chowder.
Poblanos offer “depth and warmth rather than spice” to the chowder, Miller says. He likes this soup for its versatility — it’s appetizing in all seasons — and for its appeal to seafood-lovers.
50 Plates is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and for dinner from 5 until 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays). The restaurant’s happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m., except Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
A thick meatless and nutritious twice-boiled bean soup that the Italians call ribolitta tops chef Paul Klitsie’s winter favorites at Fratelli, 1230 NW Hoyt.
For best results he recommends preparing the required cannellini (white kidney) beans from scratch rather than from the can. (See recipe.)
Patience is required to make the most of this hearty soup.
“The secret of a good ribolitta is time,” Klitsie, who grew up in the Netherlands, says. “To extract maximum flavor from the vegetables, cook them from hard to soft. Start with the carrots then celery root, then add onions, cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), garlic and finally, tomatoes. Cook each vegetable at least 5 minutes before you add the next to make sure that all the flavors blend harmoniously.”
You have to adore olive oil to love this soup, Klitsie says. “Add as much as you want.”
Fratelli’s hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The 62-seat restaurant has a next-door lounge, Bar Due (editor, this has an accent aigue on the e), open 4:30 p.m. to close every day.
Even if a soup takes a bit of patience, preparation, and hunting and gathering for the best ingredients, a helping fortifies you for the moment. And if you make enough to freeze, it will last you for days.
Take Some to Go
Don’t want to sit down and eat? The next best thing is to buy your soup to go. The Pearl is full of cafes and grocery stores that pack it up so you can heat it at home.
Mio Gelato, 25 NW 11th, peddles a couple of flavors each day, including a creamy potato with a crostini afloat, squash or minestrone. Eat inside and generous cups cost $3.50 while 16-ounce bowls are $4.50. Take-out pints are priced at $4.50, quarts cost $9. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Whole Foods, 1210 NW Couch, dishes up three soups daily and changes them every few days. Look for such varieties as Cheddar, Corn and Potato Chowder, Italian Wedding Soup with Vegan Meatballs, Mexican Style Chicken Lime Stew, and Slow Cooker Chickpea and Lentil Stew. Buy a hot soup to go for $3.49 a cup, $3.99 a pint and $7.99 a quart. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with the coffee bar opening at 7 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The Pearl’s sleek new Safeway, 1313 NW Lovejoy, introduced new flavors to its mix of Signature Soups, ready to go in single-servings as well as in larger containers. Coconut and Red Curry Chicken Bisque and Santa Fe Chicken Enchilada Soup join Autumn Harvest Butternut Squash Soup in the winter lineup. A 12-ounce hot soup costs $3.29 and $3.99 for 16 ounces. Buy it packaged from the cooler and you’ll pay $3.99-$4.99 for 15 ounces, depending the flavor, and $5.99 for 24 ounces. Store hours are 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week.
Find Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Cream of Mushroom Bisque and Chicken Coconut Curry at Little Green Grocer, 1101 NW Northrup. The store, opened since October, features one 16-ounce bowl of hot soup each day for $4.99. To-go pints from the cooler cost $5.99. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Roasted Poblano Seafood Chowder
From Patrick Miller, 50 Plates
2 ounces olive oil
5 poblano peppers roasted, peeled, seeds removed, and diced. Save one pepper and puree with 3 tablespoons clam juice
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ¾-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
½ tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
½ tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups clam juice
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 pound of seafood, including clams, mussels, fish and prawns
Sweat the onions in olive oil, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add bay leaves and fresh herbs. Cook slowly for another minute. Add celery and diced poblano peppers, cooking until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add clam juice and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the pureed poblano, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Add clams, mussels, fish or prawns. Heat until cooked through.
From Scott Dolich, Park Kitchen
6 pounds sunchokes, cleaned and scrubbed
1 yellow onion
1 head garlic, slivered and peeled
1 cup of white wine
3 quarts vegetable stock
Zest and juice from one lemon
1 cup olive oil plus some for roasting sunchokes
Salt, pepper to taste
Cut the cleaned sunchokes in half lengthwise. Toss with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil. Place sunchokes on an oven sheet and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until they are caramelized on bottom and tender on the inside. Set aside.
Slice the onion and garlic, then put them in a stainless steel stockpot with the wine, some olive oil and some salt. Sweat for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, translucent and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the vegetable stock, roasted sunchokes and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.
In the blender, puree the soup in small batches, adding olive oil and the juice and zest of the lemon, adjusting the seasoning as you go. Pass the soup through a chinois or strainer to remove any coarse fibers.
Garnish with crème fraiche, gravlax or julienned sorrel.
From Paul Klitsie, Fratelli
4 cups of cooked cannellini beans (see recipe below to prepare them from scratch)
2 cups Italian parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 medium-sized heads of celery root, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch-by-1/2-inch cubes
1 pound of peeled carrots, cut in same size as celery root
4 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
½ pound of canned drained plum tomatoes
3 pounds of cavolo nero, also called Tuscan kale, stalks removed, coarsely chopped
2 small loaves of stale ciabatta bread, crust removed and torn
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
16-ounce bottle of extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of dried cannellini beans (soaked overnight in plenty of water) then strained of the water
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 cloves, 2 bay leaves, 5 crushed juniperberries: wrap these in cheesecloth and tie with twine
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon baking soda
Kosher salt, to taste
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
To cook beans: Put a heavy-bottom stock pot over medium heat and add oil, onions and garlic and stir for 3 minutes. Add dried beans, stir for 1 minute and deglaze with the white wine. Add water to cover beans and cheesecloth with spices. Add baking soda and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer put a lid over the pan and cook till the beans are cooked but not overcooked. Strain the liquid, but save liquid and put aside.
For the soup:
In a large, heavy-bottom stockpot over high heat, add five tablespoons of olive oil. When smoky, add chopped parsley and reduce the heat to medium. Add carrots and stir occasionally to prevent burning. After five minutes, add the celery root, then add onions, garlic, and cavolo nero for another five minutes. Then add tomatoes and three-quarters of the cooked beans. Make sure each vegetable cooks at least five minutes to release flavors.
In a food processor puree the remaining beans with some of their cooking liquid and extra virgin olive oil until the puree reaches a sauce-like consistency. Add this to the soup along with the remaining bean liquid.
Let the soup simmer for another half-hour; stir occasionally. Add some of the bread, letting it break down in the soup. Add more bread until the soup is very thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then add as much extra virgin olive oil as like.
Let soup stand in the stockpot, heat off, for another 30 minutes. Divide the soup into six soup bowls. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coriander and Cumin
(From Little Green Grocer)
2 large butternut squash, about 5 pounds each. Peel, remove seeds and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large white onion, cut into rough, small dice
3 gloves of garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 pint crème fraiche or sour cream
5 green onions, finely chopped
In a large bowl, mix butternut squash with a bit of olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. The roasting concentrates the flavors and sugars of the squash.
In a stockpot, sauté onions in 4 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add coriander and cumin and sauté 3 minutes to incorporate the flavors. Add butternut squash to the onion and spices.
Cook for 1 minute and add stock. Simmer until squash falls apart and is soft. Cool a bit before pureeing.
Puree soup until smooth like silk, adjust seasoning and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and chopped green onions. To add that extra bit of richness, whisk in some olive oil.
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