Nothing epitomizes winter comfort food quite like soup. When just the right ingredients coalesce in a bowl, it nourishes the body and warms the soul. That’s why we sought out local restaurants that serve up hot portions of distinctive, savory goodness. Get ready for more than a spoonful of satisfying soup at these five stellar spots.
Neomonde Baking Company, Morrisville
Must-Try Soup: Foul Mudammas
Mediterranean eatery Neomonde is renowned for its house-made breads and pastries, which are baked fresh daily. It also features an extensive market filled with superb imported foods and spices.
Christopher Saleh, whose family started the business in 1977, manages the Morrisville location and speaks of Neomonde with infectious enthusiasm. “I am born and raised in Raleigh, but my family is from north Lebanon,” he said. “It’s a privilege to serve the community by offering fresh, wholesome food.”
Among the Middle Eastern delicacies featured at the café are items like the beef and lamb shawarma sandwich and the Neomonde platter with tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghanoush and stuffed grape leaves.
Another popular offering, the foul (pronounced FOOL) mudammas soup, comprises a lemon garlic tahini broth with fava and garbanzo beans, green peppers, cilantro, tomato, black pepper, cumin and salt.
“The soup originated in Egypt, and there are different ways to prepare it, but we have a Pan-Mediterranean way of doing it,” said Saleh. “It started as a breakfast food because it’s so hearty and holds you over a long time.”
The soup is available by cup ($2.39), bowl ($2.99) or even by the pound for $4.99.
Neomonde is open daily for lunch and dinner. Free Wi-Fi Internet access is available.
10235 Chapel Hill Road (Morrisville Station)
San Remo Italian Grill, Cary
Must-Try Soup: Cheese Tortellini
Authentic Italian fare awaits all who come through the doors of San Remo, a bistro-style establishment situated in a busy strip mall.
The restaurant’s roots trace to John Pittari Sr., who brought his family to the United States from Naples, Italy, in the 1970s. Pittari opened several restaurants in Brooklyn, N.Y., before ultimately moving to North Carolina and starting a pizzeria in Raleigh.
These days, Johnny Pittari Jr. oversees operations at San Remo, which has gained a loyal following for its rewarding pizza, pasta and other Italian specialties. Among the standout items is the cheese tortellini soup.
“We start with sautéed red onions and garlic, and then we slowly add mushrooms and spinach,” Johnny said. “We use butter and flour to make a nice roux, and then we add in thyme, salt, pepper and chicken stock, stir in the tortellini and let it go.”
The soup, which costs $4.95 a bowl, is served with fresh ciabatta bread. Another popular option? Homemade minestrone.
The restaurant features a relaxed, inviting vibe with dark-topped tables and an easily accessible bar. An enticing all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is available Sunday through Friday.
San Remo is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended on weekend nights.
3450 Kildaire Farm Road (Millpond Village)
Serendipity Gourmet Deli, Cary
Must-Try Soup: White Bean and Chicken Chili
Since 1975, downtown mainstay Serendipity has been pleasing patrons with delectable soups, salads, sandwiches and quiche. It all comes together in a cozy dining area with seating for 42.
Filled with a garden variety of vegetables and spices, the white bean and chicken chili contains celery, onion, tomato, cumin, green peppers, navy beans, bay leaves and various spices. Chunks of chicken make it a stick-to-the-ribs winner.
“We have three to four soups available each day,” explained general manager Said Bouleqcha, who hails from Morocco and has worked at Serendipity for nine years. “We offer soups like lentil, New England clam chowder, and spinach and tomato.”
Cups of soup cost $4.25; bowls are $5.25. Soup is served with either toasted bread or crackers.
Serendipity is open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner. The café is open Saturday and Sunday for lunch.
118 S. Academy St.
Must-Try Soup: Creamy Butternut Squash
Since opening its doors back in 1983, Sunflowers Café has consistently served up crowd-pleasing gourmet sandwiches, salads and — you guessed it — soup.
The eatery was the first restaurant to open in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district, where it thrived for more than 20 years. “We lost our lease, so we moved to our current location near Seaboard Station about six years ago,” said proprietor Deborah Ferebee. She’s never looked back.
The café features an open kitchen, and the warm, comfortable dining room contains tables and chairs situated among abundant live plants and flowers. A striking outdoor cypress arbor was constructed by Clay Ferebee, Deborah’s husband of 31 years.
Among the three to four daily soups offered at the café are roasted red bell pepper with carrots and orzo; corn chowder; and house-favorite creamy butternut squash. “This one is so popular that it’s our mainstay winter soup,” Ferebee said.
Suffused with thyme, ginger and a splash of tamarind, the butternut squash soup is often made with chicken stock. Ferebee said she often sources squash from the State Farmers Market.
Soups at lunchtime cost $2.95 and are subject to change throughout the week. It’s best to call to find out what’s being served on any given day.
Sunflowers is open Monday through Saturday for counter-service lunch. The restaurant also offers full-service dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5–9 p.m. and features house-ground Angus burgers along with entrees like wild-caught salmon and grilled pork tenderloin.
8 W. Peace St., Raleigh
Village Deli & Grill, Morrisville
Must-Try Soup: Crab Bisque
Adam Capani, general manager and head chef of popular lunch haunt Village Deli & Grill in Morrisville, possesses a passion for scratch-made food. Whether he’s crafting specialty sandwiches or artisan soups, the native of upstate New York takes pride in everything he churns out in the kitchen.
That includes the exceptional crab bisque. “It’s my own personal recipe,” Capani revealed. “It’s also one of our most popular soups.”
When it comes to preparing the bisque, Capani roasts tomatoes, onions and garlic along with salt and pepper for about 30 minutes. “I then puree the base and add lump crab meat along with heavy cream and some spices until it’s just right,” he said.
The soup is then served in a biodegradable “ecotainer” or, on some occasions, a bread bowl. All soups are available by cup ($3.50) or bowl ($5.50). Additional featured selections range from broccoli and cheese to roasted tomato with blue cheese crumbles.
The restaurant’s décor features an attractive white-pine trellis filled with hanging plants. Tables are covered in checkered vinyl, and a vibrant mural on the back wall spans from floor to ceiling.
Village Deli & Grill is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch.
909 Aviation Parkway #100 (Southport Business Park)