Now that the weather has cooled down, I am back to my soup-eating habits. Last January, I wrote about my favorite soup options at four restaurants in town. This year, I am bringing you along for a few new discoveries. My quest for unique options took me from one corner of our town to the other. Figuratively speaking, my taste buds traveled to three different continents and countries without ever leaving San Pedro.
Puesta Del Sol (1622 S. Gaffey St.) has been my go-to place for Mexican food for a while. I love many things on their menu, but on a cold day, a bowl of their albondigas soup hits the spot just right. Albondigas in Spanish means meatballs. This clear broth soup is loaded with large pieces of carrots, celery, zucchini, potato, and perfectly ripe avocado. At first bite, I was immediately impressed with the meatballs because they have what appear to be small diced onions, which add flavor and moisture, and marjoram. Squeeze some lime over it and enjoy. Overall, this is a delicious soup. I also tried their chicken tortilla soup. I have seen a few variations of this type; however, Puesta Del Sol’s was new to me. It’s a dense tomato-based soup that is thickened with actual tortillas. It’s loaded with shredded chicken, then topped with cheese and sour cream. To be honest, it’s not my favorite version because it tastes a lot like enchilada sauce. However, my husband really enjoyed it.
Next, I went to Compagnon Wine Bistro (335 W. 7th St.), our very own French restaurant in town. The only soup option on the menu is French onion. It’s remarkable how a humble and simplistic soup made with a combination of onion, beef broth, sherry wine, and thyme can produce such an incredibly heartwarming dish. Also, presentation-wise, it’s pretty impressive. Traditionally, this soup is served in crocks and arrives at the table piping hot, topped with melted Gruyère cheese on a thin slice or two of bread. Customarily, the size of this type of soup is small because it’s just a starter, so it’s not filling on its own. However, there are plenty of delicious choices on the menu to explore.
Lastly, I visited a new place: Northern Cafe (29050 S. Western Ave.), a Chinese dumpling house. Many people rave about the beef noodle soup here, and they are not wrong. The deep red broth is robust in flavor with the right amount of spiciness that doesn’t overpower the dish. The texture of the noodles is soft and buttery. The only other ingredients are chunks of very flavorful tender beef shank, bok choy, green onion, and cilantro. It might be simplistic, but everything comes together really well. I also tried the pork wonton soup, which might come across as mild tasting compared to the beef noodle soup. But don’t be mistaken: This is yet another soup where simple ingredients — pork dumplings, bok choy, green onion, cilantro, seaweed, and sesame oil — come together really well. The mild broth is clear; however, the burst of flavor comes from the well-seasoned pork inside the dumplings and seaweed. Texture-wise, I like how for both dishes, the bok choy is not overcooked so it does not fall apart; instead, it’s steamed to still have a bit of crispiness to it. I noted the texture of the dumplings’ dough; unlike most places, it’s thicker, making it a bit chewier. Currently, Northern Cafe operates as a pickup/take-out establishment only. spt