The Best of Beirut
on Dec 3, 2014 By Danielle Issa
It’s that time year again: a biting chill in the air, leaves turning color to beautiful reds and purples, and the relentless pitter patter of raindrops as they collide with our urban jungle. It makes you want to cozy up to a lit fireplace and sip on a heartwarming soup, doesn’t it? Thankfully, Beirut’s restaurants already have the pots on the stovetops, and they’re bubbling with savory broths all set to be ladled.
Last year we brought you six slurp-worthy soups from our pick of the bunch, and this year we’re supplementing them with a new crème de la crème. Go ahead and make those heinous soup-smacking sounds—it’s only seasonal, after all. The other diners will copy or cope.
Perhaps the largest consumption of soup per capita can be found on the East Asian subcontinent. That love for the piping hot broth is manifested masterfully at PF Chang’s China Bistro, where two of their soups made it to this year to our top five round-up. The first is the Hot & Sour (15,000 LL a bowl; 7,500 LL a cup), a rich and tangy broth simmering with chicken, silken cubes of tofu, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and egg. Derived from four different stocks, this deep-red-hued soup quickly becomes addictive, and you’d be amiss if you didn’t order the full bowl (I’ve measured it: seven cups comprise one bowl)!
Image via Zuuchini.com
For lovers of the classic chicken noodle soup, try PF Chang’s version (18,000LL/bowl) that comes with a spicy twist. A piquant broth chockfull of shiitake mushrooms, halved grape tomatoes, pin rice noodles, and fresh cilantro, this liquid food will warm your innards in no time. I’ve been known to order it as a main—replete with protein, veggies, and carb content, it’ll sate you marvelously.
Image via Whats2eat2day.com
Having made a name for itself as an authentic bistro du coin, Couqley is the talk of the town when it comes to its wickedly good steak-frites and its equally delicious onion soup gratinée (11,000 LL). A tangy brown broth derived from beef stock and sautéed onions, it comes topped with slices of toasted baguette sinking beneath oven-kissed gruyere cheese. Pair it with a glass of red wine, and you’ll feel your cheeks getting ruddy with warmth.
Image via Ivy Says
If you’re willing to treat yourself to something a bit swankier, Indigo on the Roof at downtown’s prestigious Le Gray is your sure bet. Ascend to the sixth floor, loop your way around the glass-paneled atrium, and enter a world bustling with impassioned chefs who share with you their creations from behind an open kitchen. The creamy carrot and sweet potato soup (21,000 LL) is an ode to autumn and adds a touch of cranberry relish.
If you’re missing your New England days of yore, opt for the prawn and corn chowder soup (28,000 LL) topped with a lemony sour cream.
Image via Instagram
If you’re a diehard fan of the traditional Lebanese mezze, you ought to know that red lentil soup has a sacred place in the wintry edition of the lavish spread. A fiber-rich fix of pureed lentils with a dash of cumin and croutons that inflate when immersed in the yellow bath, this soup is a winner in my book, and I love it at City Café in Beirut Souks (11,500 LL a bowl). You’re free to squeeze a wedge of lemon over it to give it a little lift, but trust me—it’s perfect as is.
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Danielle Issa is a food blogger in Lebanon. You can find her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog, Beirutista.
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