Here comes the dreaded “I can’t breathe through my nose” season.
I seek refuge in a steaming bowl of soup when my upper respiratory system decides to betray me.
Around the South Sound, you’ll find soup in every cultural configuration. Read on for some of my favorite soups to soothe a nasty bug.
Spicy Prawn Soup, $9.95
Oriental Noodle and Grill, 1620 S. Mildred St., Tacoma; 253-565-1921, orientalnoodleandgrill.blogspot.com
Lemon grass and galangal wafted from the bowl before it even touched the glass tabletop. Oriental Noodle and Grill’s spicy prawn soup features everything to love about the Southeast Asian symphony of sour-spicy flavors. Three spoonfuls of the pungent prawn- and chili-punched broth should assist in clearing stuffy sinuses. If you’ve never had a Thai-style sour soup, think of it as a lighter version of Chinese hot and sour.
Hangover Soup, $3.50
Bruno’s European Restaurant, 10716 A St. S., Tacoma; 253-719-7181, brunoseuropeanrestaurant.com
The ingredients are simple, the soup so satisfying. Bruno’s European Restaurant in Parkland has gained fame for its appearance earlier this year on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Hangover Soup at Bruno’s starts with a triple-pork punch of ham hock, sausage and bacon. Then the tomato broth is fortified with Hungarian paprika and pickles made from cucumbers from Duris Farms.
Do not miss the pickle soup — a dill-flecked masterpiece — if it’s on the specials list. Make it a meal and get the bowl for $6.50.
Italian Wedding Soup, $5.95
Pizza Casa, 12924 Pacific Highway SW, Lakewood; 253-588-8135, pizzacasa.com
Founded in 1958, Pizza Casa looks and feels its 50-plus years. It’s the kind of place that still has a candy counter next to the host stand. (When was the last time you saw one of those?) Wood-paneled walls, red-checkered tablecloths and Sinatra on the soundtrack — need I say more? It’s a destination for pizza and pasta served the old-fashioned way — with an order of crunchy breadsticks and endless pats of butter. I like this place.
Pizza Casa’s Italian wedding soup is heavy on sausage in a light chicken broth. Floating balls of acini de pepe — peppercorn-sized pasta morsels — gave it a satisfying chew.
Sizzling rice soup, $7.50
Lieu’s, 12151 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-535-5680, facebook.com/lieusrestaurant
Fresh greens, huge pieces of bok choy, and little bits of shrimp and chicken floating just below the surface of a sesame-oil sheen. Sizzling rice soup at Lieu’s is as interactive as its name suggests. We heard the whistle and sizzle of the rice as it was plopped into our bowls tableside. The dining room at Parkland’s Lieu’s — a restaurant that closed briefly last year, but reopened earlier this year — is one that has carefully preserved its yesteryear decor. Behold the elaborate artwork in the rear banquet rooms, and when you’re seated in the main dining room, be sure to look up at the inset ceiling.
El Toro, 1128 Broadway, Tacoma 253-722-5196; eltorofamily.com (note: there are multiple South Sound locations)
The mild Mexican soup called menudo typically is served on weekend menus at local Mexican restaurants, but El Toro serves it as an everyday dish. The soup at the downtown Tacoma El Toro was thick with bits of slow-cooked tripe, lightly flavored with chiles, and came with a hefty helping of hominy — something not found in every local version. The bowl is served with a condiment tray offering dried oregano and onions to further flavor the soup. If you’re offered tortillas, say yes so you can scoop up the soup.
Sue Kidd dines anonymously, and The News Tribune pays for all meals.