After that seemingly never-ending January, which had me sampling soups from a few European countries, February felt fleeting. I only traveled to Fargo and Wisconsin Dells for bowls of sustenance, but those road trips helped add up to a total of 47 soups for the month.
Spicy Pho at Kim Anh Pastery & Deli
My first favorite of the month also happened to be on the first of the month. I'd visited Kim Anh Pastery & Deli back in November and when I saw a diner enjoying this Spicy Pho, I knew then I'd be coming back to get it myself. Essentially it’s their house special, and it contains meatballs, rare flank, well done brisket, tendon, and tripe with added chilis and sauces to amp up the heat. There was a good deal of spice, but I added a bit more via sriracha and jalapeño vinegar—each of which lent a contrasting flavor in addition to warmth. I’ll definitely be going back again for this one in the future. Kim Anh Pastery & Deli, 8586 Edinburgh Centre Dr., Brooklyn Park
Reuben Soup at Adagio’s Pizza Factory
I’m a fan of dishes that remix or reimagine one type of dish into another, like this Reuben soup with Swiss cheese from Adagio’s Pizza Factory in New Brighton. Good tang and texture from the sauerkraut, creamy cheese flavored broth, salty chunks of corned beef, and rye croutons make this soup version of the familiar sandwich something to behold. Adagio’s Pizza Factory, 2052 Silver Lake Rd. NW, New Brighton
Cheese and Ale Soup at HopCat
I’m generally not a fan of beer cheese soups, especially if it has popcorn floating on it (I think it’s the monotone flavor and the soggy texture of the popcorn?). Color me surprised that one of my favorite soups this month was a Cheese and Ale soup from HopCat on Nicollet Avenue. It had a slightly thinner, less dip-like consistency than most of its beer cheese brethren, with chunks of vegetables residing in the broth. Floating on top wasn’t popcorn but rather halved chewy soft pretzel nuggets that had been crisped on one edge. This bowl surprised me in the best way. HopCat, 435 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Tomato Basil at Zelo
I’m a fan of tomato basil soups— though it’s a pretty standard and familiar offering regardless of where you order it, sometimes a rendition reveals that while the soup is common and thought of as "easy," when it’s done right, it’s stellar. I think the one on offer at Zelo downtown is pretty great. Zelo’s has multiple consistencies of tomato from smooth to chunky, good olive oil, just the right seasoning, and is finished with Parmesan. The complimentary soft bread is great for getting every drop of this goodness that the spoon can’t. Zelo, 831 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Knoephla Soup at Mary Ellen’s Bistro
My final favorite of the month was from a brand new spot in northeast Minneapolis. Occupying the old Maeve’s Cafe space, Mary Ellen’s Bistro offers a soup that I’d driven to Fargo just to get not two weeks prior to the cafe’s debut. "Knoephla" is the name of both a dumpling and the soup containing them. It’s popular in parts of North Dakota with numerous versions along the path of Intestate 94, but not much farther north. (I was stationed in Grand Forks half a lifetime ago and never saw it on a menu at the time.) In my opinion, knoephla soup may be the best version of chicken dumpling soup out there, and Mary Ellen’s offers a really good one... and close to home. Mary Ellen’s Bistro, 300 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
For the full roster of soups I’m eating daily, follow along on my Instagram, @jdhovland.