“It’s all home cookin’ like grandma would have made.” —The Lookout Bar and Grill owner, Mike Kinnan
The end of winter is near (we hope!) but it’s never too late for good soup—especially when there are so many flavorful and inventive choices in the Maple Grove area. From the ever popular and always classic Minnesota wild rice to soups with an international heritage, these choices will warm your body and your soul. It’s almost enough to make you wish for three more months of snow. Almost.
Galway Bay Clam Chowder
Claddagh Irish Pub
If you believe that bacon makes everything better, this soup is for you. Claddagh’s chowder uses traditional ingredients like potatoes, onions and fresh clams, but it’s the addition of bacon that makes this a real crowd pleaser. “When we sauté down the onion, we use the bacon grease,” says general manager Darren O’Dwyer. “That flavors the whole soup.” O’Dwyer recommends slathering butter on a slice of Claddagh’s homemade brown soda bread and dipping a chunk of that into this hearty chowder. The butter on the bread adds another layer of taste to the already flavorful soup. Of course, as any Irishman might say, O’Dwyer thinks this chowder pairs best with a pint of Guinness. “It’s a match made in heaven,” O’Dwyer says.
$5.49 a bowl. 7890 Main St. N., claddaghirishpubs.com
Turkey Wild Rice
“Most of our menu items are things that you’d find somewhere else, but they’re never done the same [at 3 Squares],” says chef Eric Bauler. Case in point: 3 Squares’ turkey wild rice soup. Substituting turkey leaves this soup tasting sweeter than its chicken counterpart. But while turkey might be the named meat in this soup, it isn’t alone: ham is a surprising, delicious, secondary ingredient that adds a smoky flavor. 3 Squares also uses fennel for an anise taste, and a dash of sherry “opens up all the flavors,” Bauler says. The soup relies on the traditional ingredient of Minnesota wild rice to complete the dish. “It’s a twist on a classic,” says Bauler.
$4.75 a bowl. 12690 Arbor Lakes Parkway, 3squaresrestaurant.com
Some Minnesotans may overlook any soup that isn’t a hearty, cream-based soup. Those folks are missing out on a fabulous possibility at Sawatdee. Toam Yum is a spicy, broth-based soup that originated in Thailand but is now popular all over the world. When translated, Toam Yum means hot and sour. Given that lemongrass, thai chili and mushrooms are the key components, it’s easy to appreciate the flavorful nature of this soup. Served with rice and your choice of chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, or a seafood combination, Toam Yum is a great starter option, or it can stand alone as its own healthy and fulfilling meal.
$13-$18.00 a bowl. 7885 Main St. N., sawatdee.com
Mike’s Vegetable Beef with Barley
Dehn’s Country Manor
An honest-to-goodness family recipe, Mike’s Vegetable Beef with Barley continues to please customers twenty years after it first appeared on the Dehn’s Country Manor menu. Owner Mike Dehn’s aunt Mary was adamant that her soup be part of restaurant’s initial lunch menu in 1991. “It’s been extremely popular” ever since, says Dehn, who notes that Mary’s insistence at using prime rib, rather than standard beef, is part of the soup’s long-lasting appeal. The recipe calls for traditional vegetable ingredients, like carrots, celery, onion, sweet corn and green peas, but the addition of Italian herbs gives it something special. This standout option has “a little more of an herb-y zing to it,” Dehn says. As the house soup, Mike’s Vegetable Beef with Barley is available every day, and Dehn recommends pairing the soup with a garden salad and Dehn’s yeast biscuits.
$4.50 a bowl. 11281 Fernbrook Lane, dehnscountrymanor.com
Daily Dose Café and Espresso
Hungarian paprika is the signature flavor in this specialty soup from Daily Dose. It gives the soup “a little spice, a little color,” says staff member Curt Medina. Hungarian paprika, which is zestier than standard paprika, adds a bolder, sweeter taste. Sliced mushrooms provide the other central flavor, as well as the soup’s visual appeal, and Medina says that a dash of dill weed is also a tasty addition. Medina recommends any of the panini sandwiches, like The Big Cheese or Cuban, as companion lunch items for this soup. As one of many specialty soups offered at Daily Dose, Hungrian Mushroom is available once or twice a month. Check out their Facebook page for an updated list of soups of the day.
$3.50 a bowl. 15517 Grove Circle N., dailydosemn.com
Pittsburgh Blue takes a classic comfort food and ups the ante by only using the best ingredients available. “We use USDA grade A prime rib, along with grade A chuck, instead of regular beef,” says general manager Felipe Navarro, which helps explain why Pittsburgh Blue’s chili is so popular. Navarro says that his chefs roast the prime rib first and then cut big chunks of meat for the soup so that it has a “thick and hearty” consistency. Served with a bag of Fritos, this chili is a meal in itself, although Navarro also points out that it is an excellent starter for many dinner entrees. For a surprising pairing, Navarro suggests ordering hash browns along with the steakhouse chili. The crispy potatoes are a tasty counterpart to this meaty soup. $7.95 a bowl. 11900 Main St. N.; pittsburghbluesteak.com
Cream of Chicken Wild Rice The Lookout Bar & GrillMike Kinnan knows for a fact that the Lookout’s cream of chicken wild rice is a local favorite: they serve between 4 and 5 gallons of the soup each day. Kinnan credits the recipe (which originally belonged to his grandmother) and The Lookout’s insistence on preserving her homemade cooking process for the soup’s popularity over the past 56 years. “We’re a scratch cook kitchen,” says Kinnan, who notes they even make their own chicken stock from local Gold’n Plump chickens. The soup also relies on real cream and locally grown wild rice for its rich and flavorful taste. The soup is served with homemade corn bread, which Kinnan believes is amazing on its own. “It’s all home cookin’ like grandma would have made,” says Kinnan. And in the case of this Lookout favorite, he means that literally.
$5.99 a bowl. 8672 Pineview Lane N., lookoutbarandgrill.com