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27: Turkey Wild Rice Soup at Cook St. Paul

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When Serlin's Cafe closed in 2013 after nearly 60 years in business, the Payne-Phalen community was right to mourn its loss. The place was the stuff of American diner legend. But after a refresh, rebrand, and full restaffing, the cozy spot reopened as Cook St. Paul, serving reinvented breakfast favorites, Korean comfort food, and a cream of turkey wild rice soup that was worth ordering even in the sweltering summer heat.

See also: Where To Eat on Payne Avenue, St. Paul's New Dining Destination

In addition to various types of hot dish, a volcanic Jucy Lucy, and apparently the infamous grape salad, wild rice soup is perhaps the most iconic of all Minnesota foods, which means everyone has an opinion on it. Cook's is absolutely ideal: The texture is creamy, never gloopy, deep with the flavor of caramelized mirepoix, thyme-scented broth, lots of still-toothsome wild rice, and shreds of nicely seasoned white and dark meat -- simple and so tasty. At lunchtime, a bowl comes with a homemade roll and, charmingly, its own lore. Cook's owner Eddie Wu tells us that without this soup, the restaurant might have never been.

"That soup is what got us our loan," says Wu. "Our banker was kind of old-school and wanted to try some of our food before giving the go-ahead. We gave them soup and a slice of cake, and that did it."

Truthfully, it sealed the deal for us, too.

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