This time of year, I always find myself craving a warm bowl of soup. I consider myself a ninja in the kitchen when it comes to making soup. I pretty much always have the makings of a decent soup that I can throw together in a pinch.
So, when I'm dining out and order soup, I have high expectations. I'm looking for unique flavor, fresh ingredients and extra preparations that I wouldn't get from my own "creations." Local cafes, restaurants, and eateries here in Hendricks County are serving up an impressive selection of soups - from savory, slightly sweet to spicy. Keep warm this season with some of these suggestions.
We wanted to know the locals favorite soups, so we asked for suggestions on Facebook recently. We got some great responses. But before we get to those, here are a few of mine.
Potato Bacon Corn Chowder from The Beehive
Hands down, this is my favorite soup. Ever.
The fine folks at The Beehive might as well start ladling this deliciousness into a bowl when they see me walk through the door. If they're serving it, I'm buying it. I may also be known to ask if they have any leftovers in the fridge. Yep, it's that good.
Red potatoes and bacon in an amazing corn chowder base. Need I say more? What makes this soup my favorite is the flavor. I think it's thyme, but I can't be sure. I kinda don't want to know what secret combination of herbs gives it such a distinct flavor. It's hearty and oh so yummy.
I get the large and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. You can catch their "soup of the day" and other specials here on their Facebook page.
Chicken Tortilla Soup from BJs Brewhouse
I wrote a blog post when this restaurant opened in Avon in 2015. My second favorite soup, their Chicken Tortilla, has made quite the repeat customer out of me.
I make a fine Chicken Tortilla soup. I even thought I knew Chicken Tortilla soup. Friends, I did not. You can read about the day I met the real deal, here.
Since that glorious day, I've order this fine soup sans the bread bowl and every time, I'm full of regret. The soup itself would still sit at #2 on my list if I had to sip it from a cup, but in a fresh, garlicky bread bowl? If you're gonna do it, do it right. Plus, when you have it served in a bread bowl, there's an impressive presentation that comes with it.
The fresh ingredients -- cilantro, crunchy tortilla strips, avocado, shredded cheese and lime -- are all delivered in the warm bread bowl and a bubbly, delicious soup is poured over them at the table. This soup is thick, with tender chicken, corn, peppers and the perfect blend of spices. It's so good.
Based on the response we received on our Facebook poll, it seems that eateries known for serving delicious soup, have more than one local favorite on the menu. Based on this poll, here are the top spots to score a cup, bowl or troth of soup...
Court House Grounds - Danville
Their Dill Pickle Soup received the most "votes," and you can assume, as the title suggests, that this is no ordinary soup. Court House Grounds uses fresh, local ingredients and make all their dishes in house. Like many locally owned cafes, the soup menu changes daily.
At Court House Grounds, this menu is often based on the season and availability of the best ingredients. You'll definitely want to order a bowl of this crowd favorite, but even if you don't see the Dill Pickle Soup on the menu, they always have an equally impressive soup on the menu. Follow their Facebook page and catch their awesome, daily "soup-mercial" to see what they're serving up.
The Bread Basket - Danville
Four different soups served at the Bread Basket were suggested on our poll. Clearly, they're the real soup ninjas. That's good news, though, as the soup menu here is different everyday.
It seems you can't go wrong with a soup order here, but the suggested favorites include: Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup, Butternut Squash Bisque, White Chicken Chili and their Tomato Basil.
I hope that all of these are never on the menu at the same time. How would one choose just one, or two, even? The Bread Basket, so cozy and warm, is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of delicious homemade soup.
Stone Creek Dining Company - Plainfield
We received two favorites from Stone Creek -- Corn Chowder and Potato Leek soup. I've not had their Corn Chowder, but I love a good chowder. I hope to try this one soon.
The Potato Leek Soup suggestion did not surprise me in the least. This is just the kind of soup I was talking about. One that requires ingredients I don't have on hand, preparations I don't have the patience for and a culinary skill set I lack (I was exaggerating on the ninja thing).
Unique and delicious. This one would make a great lunch or the perfect compliment to dinner. Not too filling, but satisfying.
The Beehive - Danville
In addition to my personal favorite, The Beehive received votes for two additional soups -- the White Bean Chicken Chili and their Lasagna Soup. Both are delicious, both are super filling. You can't go wrong with either of these options.
My daughter and I shared a bowl of Lasagna Soup a few weeks ago. I'm loyal to my chowder, but this is a close contender. It's full of flavor and topped with a heaping, fresh spoonful of ricotta. It's the little things.
I haven't personally tried the last two soups suggested by our locals, but I'm intrigued by both -- the Chicken Lemon Soup at Opa! in Avon and the Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup at Pho 36 in Avon.
Both sound extremely unique and flavorful - worthy of a soup order when dining out. I can't wait to try them.
Well there you have it, our combined list of the best soups served up in Hendricks County. Like Visit Hendricks County on Facebook and be on the lookout for future opinion polls to tell the people all about your favorite things, places and happenings in Hendricks County. I loved hearing your suggestions and I hope you enjoy mine.