These Delaware Restaurants Do Soup Season Right

It's soup season, and these Delaware eateries are serving up the warming comfort food in cups, bowls and takeout containers.

Soup is part of nearly every cuisine around the world, inspiring cookbooks, fast-food restaurants and even famous Seinfeld characters (“No soup for you!”). Fortunately, there is no shortage of varieties in Delaware. Here, we dish on a few favorites to slurp up this season.

Cups of comfort

“Oh, boy, do I love soup season!” says Tom Alexander, owner of Lettie’s Kitchen in Hockessin. “Soups are my favorite thing to make!” Lettie’s stocks up on ham and bean, turkey and wild rice and split pea, “to name a few,” Alexander promises. Buy them by the quart and, while you’re there, try the fried chicken.

1318 Old Lancaster Pke, Hockessin; 239-7816; lettieskitchen.com

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At Pizza by Elizabeths in Greenville, the cream of tomato soup is garnished with cream and croutons, and served with hot breadsticks fresh from the oven. Courtesy of Pizza by Elizabeths.

At Pizza by Elizabeths, cream of tomato is the culinary equivalent of a warm embrace. “I just had this today at lunch, and it was a comfort experience—smooth and velvety,” says loyal customer Sandi Waltz of Greenville. Secret ingredients include cloves and cayenne, an addictive combo. Owner Betsy Leroy says the restaurant goes through 15 gallons a day in the colder seasons.

3801 Kennett Pke, Wilmington; 654-4478; pizzabyelizabeths.com

Down in Lewes, Big Oyster Brewery serves tomato soup with gooey grilled cheese squares. Plus, the 1/2 sandwich and 1/2 soup lunch deal includes a cream of crab soup option. Add a brew for a satisfying lunch.

1007 Kings Hwy, Lewes; 644-2621; bigoysterbrewery.com

Meanwhile, matzo ball soup will cure what ails you. Warren Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld’s Delicatessen beefs up the recipe with carrots and chunks of chicken. He adds dill when the soup is still steaming. “The smell, color and flavor make it the secret ingredient,” he says. The Rehoboth location will go through five dozen matzo balls and 20 gallons of chicken soup on a busy day.

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18949 Coastal Hwy, Unit 101, Rehoboth Beach; 645-1700; crosenfeldsjewishdeli.com

matzo ball soup
Who says comfort food has to be unhealthy? According to Warren Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld’s Delicatessen in Rehoboth Beach, matzo ball soup will cure what ails you—and warm you up this fall and winter. Adobe Stock.

Seasonal Soups

Butternut squash is a ubiquitous soup at this time of year. At Chelsea Tavern, the vegetarian bisque receives a splash of beer and a handful of pepitas. The tavern also serves a to-die-for white chicken chili all year.

821 N. Market St, Wilmington; 482-3333; chelseatavern.com

Big Fish Grill’s pumpkin crab bisque hit the restaurants in September. “It’s so amazing I buy containers and freeze them,” says Jackie Blue of Rehoboth Beach.

20298 Coastal Hwy, Rehoboth Beach; 227-3474; bigfishrestaurantgroup.com

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Delmarva Delights

Meanwhile, the Back Burner’s velvety pumpkin-mushroom soup is on the menu all year. Recipes that produce similar flavors feature curry, honey, a dash of nutmeg and heavy cream.

425 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin; 239-2314; backburner.com

Creamy mushroom soup sans the gourd is a staple in northern Delaware. Credit the proximity to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Indeed, Longwood Gardens is renowned for its herby version, which you can buy in the café or the more formal 1906 restaurant.

1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square; 610-388-5290; longwoodgardens.org

Delawareans also love crab, and the Maryland crab soup at Woody’s Dewey Beach is often a prelude to its famous crab cakes. Owner and Baltimore native Jimmy O’Conor starts with a crab paste.

1904 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach; 260-9945; deweybeachbar.com

Some like crabmeat with cream. At The Cultured Pearl in Rehoboth Beach, crab soup with Old Bay shares the menu with sushi. “It is one of our best sellers, and it has been on the menu since we opened,” says owner Susan Wood. “We won’t give out the recipe, though we are asked all the time.” Hint: It’s made to order.

301 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach; 227-8493; culturedpearl.us

Seafood isn’t just for summer. At Bluecoast Seafood Grill in Bethany, oyster stew is a cold-weather staple. Courtesy of Bluecoast Seafood Grill.

Oyster stew is also a hit at Bluecoast Seafood Grill in Bethany Beach, part of SoDel Concepts. The company’s three Matt Fish Camp locations are known for an equally rich white clam chowder.

30904 Coastal Hwy, Bethany Beach; 539-7111; Sodelconcepts.com

Some establishments’ soups are so loved that you can buy flights. Dorcea in Wilmington is an example. “It’s hugely popular,” says owner Anthony Bomba of the trio. “It accounts for about a third of all our soup sales.” Most people include the restaurant’s vegetarian Jamaican carrot soup, a special that impressed guests to the point that it’s now a staple.

1314 Washington St, Wilmington; 691-7447; dorcea.com

 

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Ethnic Influences

Global cuisines often include a famous soup. At Mrs. Robino’s, for instance, pasta fagioli pairs beans and pasta in a tasty tomato broth.

520 N. Union St, Wilmington; 652-9223; mrsrobinos.com

The Little Italy eatery makes its Italian wedding soup with spinach. Taverna, located in Newark and North Wilmington, uses escarole for the hearty potage, which includes tiny meatballs and Parmesan.

121 E. Main St, Newark; 3549 Silverside Rd., Wilmington; tavernapdg.com

Thailand has no shortage of soups, including tom yum, a hot and sour broth with bell peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms that’s available at Ubon Thai Kitchen & Bar on the Wilmington Riverfront.

936 Justison St., Wilmington; 656-1706; ubonthaicuisine.com

 

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Owner Wit Milburn also has Kapow Kitchen, a food truck and restaurant in Booths Corner Market. The bestselling soup is Thai noodle pho, a chicken broth with scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts and rice noodles. “We like to use the fat ho fun rice noodles versus thin rice noodles,” Milburn explains.

1362 Naamans Creek Rd., Booths Corner Farmers Market Lower Level, Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania; 484-480-8442; kapowkitchen.com

Pho originated in Vietnam, where it’s often made with beef and a beef broth. You can also order it with shrimp or tofu at Minh’s Bistro.

18949 Coastal Hwy #103, Rehoboth Beach; 703-6626; minhsbistro.com

Ramen is more of a noodle dish than a soup, but you’ll need a spoon at some point—unless you want to bring the bowl to your mouth. Miyagi Ramen Bar in Rehoboth Beach has several flavors, including ones with Thai and Korean (curry and bulgogi) influences.

Safeway Shopping Complex, 19266 Coastal Hwy #6, Rehoboth Beach; 567-2385; miyagiramenbar.com

To get a taste of the popular Japanese comfort food in Upstate Delaware, try Ramen Kumamoto in Newark. The ramen broth is simmered over a two-day period, giving it a complex flavor profile that originated from the Kumamoto region of Japan, and the eatery offers a variety of flavors and toppings to complement it.

165 East Main St, Newark; 733-0888; ramenkumamoto.com

Make a Meal of It

It’s debatable as to whether gumbo is a soup—the amount of rice and the thickness of the roux are deciding factors. At Cajun Kate’s, Don Applebaum uses recipes developed from days working at Nola, a New Orleans restaurant. His roux—made with oil and flour—takes more than an hour to make, and he must stir the entire time or it will burn. On any given day, Applebaum might add brisket, greens, roast pork, chicken, shrimp or alligator.

722 Philadelphia Pke, Wilmington; 416-5108; cajunkates.com

At Po’ Boys Creole Restaurant, the gumbo has a lighter roux, chicken and andouille sausage.

900 Palmer St, Milton; 684-0890; poboyscreole.com

Who does it best? Pack your spoon and take a slurp test. There’s plenty of soup to go around.

Related: 23 Delaware Restaurants With Outdoor Dining in the Fall

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