Soup’s On

O n cold winter days, nothing beats a bowl of hot soup. Here are some of our favorite local heat sources.

With a name like Ladle and Loaf, you know a soup’s on. I recently ordered the Moroccan Vegetable Soup ($7), a tomato-based broth packed with chickpeas accompanied by carrots, celery and onions with a little bit of harissa spiciness. When co-owner Benny Lieblich heard I was on a soup mission, he brought out a bowl of Yemenite Beef Soup for me to try, which was even better. “That’s a six- to eight-hour soup,” he told me. I’d already guessed as much by the way the beef melted in my mouth. It was served in a rich broth with red peppers, carrots and more chickpeas. Most of Ladle and Loaf’s eat-in business happens at dinner time, according to Benny, while lunch tends toward takeout. If you’re looking for a quiet place to sit with your midday soup, you may find it here.

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Zoi’s is the lunch place of choice for many who work near the Green. It’s usually packed, if not with in-person diners, then with brown takeout bags crowding every counter. There’s a lot to recommend on Zoi’s menu, but I tried a cup of Cajun Roasted Chicken & Corn Chowder. This creamy, golden soup was full of meaty bits of chicken with a handful of corn and a kick of curry in the chowder itself. It wasn’t as spicy as I’d expected, which made it so slurpable I had to slow down to really savor it. Zoi’s soups run $3.95 to $4.95, and offerings change daily. The menu the day of my visit also included Italian Sausage Vegetable Lentil and Homemade Chili with Scallions, Cheddar & Sour Cream.

Soup at Kuro Shiro means ramen. At this popular Crown Street restaurant, I ordered something I already knew I’d like: the delicious Vegan Tantanmen ($12). Bright green steamed broccoli, whole and blended cashews, diced tofu, slender noodles and bright, palate-cleansing cilantro were married by a thick ivory broth that left a little bit of spice on the tongue.

But it was Basil, tucked into the top block of Howe Street, that served my spiciest pick—and the best bargain. The “Noodle Soup” portion of Basil’s menu is 25 dishes strong, including 10 marked with the familiar red chili pepper icon. I ordered the Curry Vegetable option ($6.50) to go, waiting until I was home to pour a spicy red curry broth with spongy chunks of tofu over a bed of rice noodles, bean sprouts and sliced bulbs of leafy bok choy. Basil, with its small space, is still closed to indoor dining, so you’ll have to order takeout here. This steamy, full-body-warming lunch was big enough for two—or for leftovers.

No local soup story would be complete without The Soup Girl, just up Whitney Avenue in Hamden. Here you’ll find both focus (a business dedicated to soup) and variety (four different hot offerings each day, from a rotating menu of more than 100). This time, I brought home a piping hot bowl-sized portion ($6.25) of Broccoli Cheese—a creamy, light puree that delivered both flavors—and the intriguing Curried Pumpkin Apple. This delicious autumnal soup with just a hint of sweetness had the same comforting effect as the snowy day tomato soup of my childhood. Warm and flavorful, it hit the spot. Hot soup service at The Soup Girl ends at 2:30 on weekdays, but after that you can pick up a wide selection of flavors from the cooler, which also stocks salads, bread puddings and ice cream.

The old adage that too many cooks spoil the soup may be true of a single pot, but with so many local cooks stirring their own pots—far more than we can cover here—you’ll run out of cold weather before you run out of soup.

Written and photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Image 1 features Ladle and Loaf’s Yemenite Beef and Moroccan Vegetable Soups. Image 2 features Basil’s Curry Vegetable Noodle Soup.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is Daily Nutmeg's associate editor. She's also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter. Her perfect New Haven day would involve lots of sunshine, a West Rock hike, a concert on the green and a coffee milkshake.

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