By Nancy Macy
I’m headed out on this cold, blustery Berkshire day to find good soup. Hearty, warming, comforting soup. Something thick and creamy would be perfect, accompanied by crusty just-baked bread slathered with fresh sweet butter. A chowder is what I have in mind, although a savory chicken noodle would also hit the mark. I just need something to warm me through to my bones and down to my popsicle toes.
With so many creative and talented chefs and food purveyors located in the Berkshires, the toughest thing about finding good soup here is that there are so many tasty choices. And because many local chefs create their imaginative dishes around the availability of seasonal ingredients grown and raised in the Berkshires, you may find your soup bowl filled to the brim with a taste combination that’s completely new to your palate. In fact, it may be the best soup you’ve ever tasted.
On a recent evening visit to Café Adam in Great Barrington, the soup of the day (known here as ‘Soup of the Moment’) was a chilled gazpacho topped with spicy almonds that kicked in just the right amount of heat. Slender toasted handmade breadsticks served on the side added a satisfying crunch to the dish. While I know it’s not a hot soup, it was a good soup that only hints at the many talents of chef/owner Adam Zieminski.
You’ll find equally delightful flavors and presentations at the Zagat-rated Old Mill in Egremont, where the ‘Soup of Yesterday’ is always a delicious concoction. And just a short drive away in Sheffield at the Stagecoach Tavern at Race Brook Lodge, Chef Thomas John Lee’s locally foraged wild mushroom soup is a wonderful way to take the chill off after a day hiking or skiing nearby. Or visit Bizen Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Great Barrington, where Asian-inspired soups including a flavorful miso are served in beautiful ceramic tableware made by owner/sushi chef Michael Marcus. Also not to be missed is the Fritattensuppe at Haflinger Haus in Adams, it is an Austrian classic comprised of chicken broth garnished with sliced crepes, chicken, and chives, perfect for a chilly day.
For grab-and-go soups or takeout options try Spoon in Lenox, On a Roll in downtown Pittsfield, the Berkshire Co-Op Market in Great Barrington or Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington and Pittsfield. Most offer selections that cater to all tastes, including vegan and vegetarian.
I’ve decided my soup craving today would best be satisfied by a bowl of the Cheddar Ale Soup at the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington. If you go, bring a friend and save room for dessert. The mile-high Chocolate Stout Cake is magnificent in size and taste and totally worth the splurge.
No matter where you’re exploring in the Berkshires this season, you’ll find comforting soups that will likely defy your taste expectations and satisfy heart and soul. It’s always worth it to ask your server, “What’s the soup of the day?”