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Soup Weather

Soup Weather

Melinda Green

Columbus rich with hearty options for cold days

It’s cold out, and you know what that means. It’s soup weather at long last. Sure, you can go to one of the big national or regional chains known for their soups, but how about trying a really substantial, soul-warming bowl from somewhere a little more local?

“On a colder day, we definitely have a lot of friends and customers coming in and asking for the chicken soup,” said Pablo Taura, owner of Pablo’s Havana Café in Powell. “It’s really hearty.” His chicken soup starts with boiling whole chicken legs for flavor, then removing the bones and returning the meat to the stockpot with vegetables and noodles. 


Taura, who is Cuban, uses his mother’s and grandmother’s recipes for authentic flavor. His black bean soup, which is the traditional accompaniment to most of the cafe’s dishes, is vegetarian and complex. It’s a thick soup that contains sauteed green peppers, onion, garlic, and cumin, brightened with oregano and bay leaf, as well as a few secret ingredients. 

His red bean soup is based on a rich beef consomme left over from the preparation of other dishes, combined with tomato sauce and vegetables. That soup also becomes the basis for the Cuban chili, loaded with picadillo beef and topped with onions and cheese. This chili is wonderfully robust, definitely not low-calorie, and satisfying in every bite.

Taura points out that Cuban cuisine is full of spice, but not spicy. There might be a hint of heat, but not enough to obscure the myriad other flavors. That complexity of flavor makes Cuban soups hearty in so many ways.

For another great chicken soup, head to Giuseppe’s Ritrovo in Bexley. It’s not always listed on the printed menu, and when it is, those in the know say it’s simply called “zuppa.” The staff refers to it as “CCP”—chicken, carrot, and potato. It’s simple, but perfect: Generous chunks of chicken, carrot, and potato, delightfully seasoned, in a broth that’s full flavored yet perfectly balanced.

If the depth and earthiness of a good lentil soup is more your style, Aladdin’s Eatery’s three locations have some of the best in town. You can add chicken, but really, you don’t need to. The vegan version is deliciously satisfying on its own. Just go ahead and pick up an entire quart and thank yourself later.

Maybe Vietnamese pho and noodle soups are your thing–there are plenty of robust choices all over town. Among the best, though, is a spicy Hue style noodle soup at Mi Li’s Cafe in north Columbus. Slices of cha lua (pork sausage) and beef greet vermicelli in a deeply flavorful bone broth, made spicy with as much chili paste as you dare. Among Asian soups, this one stands out as definitely substantial.

And if you’re a die-hard meat eater, it’s hard to beat the Hungarian goulash from Mozart’s Café in Clintonville—part soup, part stew, all delicious. Tender cubes of beef, simmered with potatoes, onions, and a generous dose of paprika, will warm any carnivore’s heart and fill a growling stomach. The chunk of focaccia served alongside ensures you won’t leave behind a drop of that amazing stock.

Hibernating at Home

But what if you can’t decide what to order or simply can’t wait for a delivery? Wouldn’t it be great if a hearty soup was already in your freezer, waiting to console you on a bitterly cold day? We have an answer for that too: meal prep services are here to save the day. Sure, there are the trendy DIY subscriptions you see advertised on social media. But we’re talking about true meal prep, where all you need to do is heat and eat.

“Most people are not good at cooking, or they’re good at cooking one or two things,” said Carissa Paddock, owner and chef at From My Kitchen to Yours 614 in Dublin. Paddock has been providing meal prep services for five years, adding soups, sold by the pint, last year. “When the weather is like this, you want something cozy,” she continued. 

Her offerings rotate, but at present, there are a whopping 17 soups on the menu, including vegetable, broccoli cheddar, and Tuscan white bean chili. Among the most popular are chicken pot pie soup served with a side of puff pastry, and Cajun veggie chowder, full of vegetables and spices, with an almond-milk cream sauce.

These soups freeze well, so they’re always on hand when you need a quick, warming meal. And, unlike a restaurant, a meal prep service often can customize a batch of soup to meet dietary restrictions or nutritional goals. Paddock’s service doesn’t require a minimum order (although it’s easiest to order a couple weeks’ worth at a time), and her delivery area covers greater Columbus.

So whether you decide to carry out, dine in, order delivery, or stock your freezer, Columbus has your feel-good meals covered this winter. Try the soup. Stay warm. Enjoy the comfort.


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