I find myself in the highly unusual (for me, at least) position of having sampled two bowls of cheese soup, roughly a block apart, in the space of a single week. Thought I’d pass along notes, in case anyone downtown is craving cheese soup and needs help making an informed decision. (If anyone knows of other cheese soups, please give a shout. Somehow this week’s accidental duplicity has made discovering the perfect bowl of cheese soup feel like a personal mission.)
Today’s Red Pepper Gouda at Big Whiskey’s is some of the finest cheese soup I’ve ever tasted, and I bet that it’d be even better with a dark beer. But there was this little thing called work that usually follows my weekday lunches, so I abstained. The Gouda has a sharp, smoky flavor, and the soup’s texture is thick and creamy, retaining more of a “melted cheese” quality rather than the gelled ooze that can be so unappealing with cheese dip and sundry cheesy products. In fact, the texture was a little chewy in places, like the cheese had been sawed off the wheel and melted down unevenly in the pot.
I’ve also had a recent bowl of Spicy Beer Cheese soup from Flying Saucer — “housemade with an English brown ale,” according to the menu. What the menu doesn’t tell you is that, primarily, you’re ordering a bowl of crusty bread with a healthy doll-up of cheese dip in the center. Yep, I found the spicy beer soup to be somewhat exceptional cheese dip, but cheese dip none the less, and for inexplicable reasons, cheese dip freaks me out. More precisely, the plastic, gloopy texture of cheese dip (shared by this soup) freaks me out. But the soup also had juicy hunks of roasted red pepper and a generous dose of cayenne pepper, offset with a nutty hint of brown ale. And the bread was soft, thick, spongy and delicious, even though I couldn’t bring myself to consume a whole bowl of it. (In my experience, polishing off an entire bread bowl is never for the faint of heart).
In both (all?) cases, a little cheese soup goes a long way. Both soups are priced between $5.50 and $6. Let me know if there are others out there.