Alright, so maybe Orlando hasn’t borne the brunt of the weather-trending cold and snow quite as much as say – Minneapolis – but we’ve gotten a decent dose of “Florida winter” this season. Go on and hate, if you must, but we had a recent day where it didn’t get out of the 50s. (Oh, the horror!) In all seriousness, there are always a few complainers, but many of us enjoy getting out the boots and the coats and making a point to breathe in the soothing, brothy vapors of a nice, hot bowl of soup.
“Orlando has actual places for soup?!”
Yes. Yes, we do. Here are a few great soup restaurants you might want to check out when the next cold snap hits.
Miso ramen at Sapporo Ramen — Photo courtesy of Sapporo Ramen
You don’t have to custom order a bowl of ramen here – Sapporo Ramen serves a diverse menu of Japanese fare from its small, fast-casual outpost in an Asian strip mall off Colonial Drive – but you really should.
Choose from four broth options (miso; shoyu, soy-based; shio, salt-and-buttery with corn; and tonkotsu, which is pork-bone soup). Each bowl comes with a few standards like fish cake and pork, but feel free to order add-ons like hard-boiled egg, kimuchi (a spicy cabbage) or extra pork slices.
Cold weather notwithstanding, Sapporo is also fast and reasonably priced. When the ramen mood hits, they’re a good go-to.
Loaded won ton soup at Saigon Noodle & Grill — Photo courtesy of Saigon Noodle & Grill
Saigon Noodle & Grill
If ramen is on the rare side in Orlando, pho is not. The City Beautiful has a rich Vietnamese community; options for the nation’s cuisine are plenty. Saigon Noodle & Grill, like so many of the city’s little gems, is run out of an unremarkable shopping center, this one on Goldenrod on the east side of town. Its friendly, husband-and-wife proprietors serve up Vietnamese food in large, flavorful portions.
The pho is no exception, nor are any of its other delightful soupy offerings. Dining buddies aren’t in the mood for the two-hand, chopsticks-and-spoon experience that is traditional pho? No problem. The menu is vast. Birds’ nests are a specialty.
Come super hungry, or prepare to leave with a box. And if you’re a fan of strong Vietnamese coffee, give theirs a shot and it’ll give you one back.
At Hotto Potto, the soup's ingredients, flavor and heat are in your hands — Photo courtesy of Hotto Potto
This time, we’re taking the Asian soup bus to China (by way of Winter Park). At Hotto Potto, the “customize” idea is taken to new heights as you’ll be simmering the soup in the center of your table. An array of meats and vegetables, spices, seasonings, noodles and dumplings are available a la carte; add as you please.
Vegetarian options abound, as well, and servers will explain the process if you need some direction. If you enjoy a fondue-style experience, you’re likely to enjoy Hotto Potto. And if it’s cold outside? Even moreso, when the simmering concoction hits your sinuses.
Gumbo at Virgin Olive Market — Photo courtesy of Virgin Olive Market
Virgin Olive Market
Lest you think Orlando’s soup scene is Asian only, Virgin Olive Market is a wonderful venue for proving otherwise. Soups are made fresh every day; like them on Facebook to find out the soup selections of the day, along with the rest of the specials. Vegan and vegetarian options are not uncommon.
Soup varieties include white chicken chili, tomato basil, corn chowder, vegetable/turkey, vegan lentil/eggplant/mushroom and dozens more, no lie. Their vast menu of apps, sandwiches and breakfast items – not to mention homemade desserts – make them a local favorite. And not just for the downtown lunch crowd, either.