The best local soup places to try this winter

It’s almost Winter 2020, and the return of the cold weather brings with it the best time to eat the ultimate comfort food: soup. One of the most diverse and flavorful foods around, it’s the perfect food for those upcoming frigid evenings. Here are some of the best soup places to warm your insides this season:

Pho Zen

15936 SE Happy Valley Town Center Rd, Happy Valley

A savory, aromatic, and herbaceous bowl of pho.

Few cuisines can match the freshness of Vietnamese, and in Happy Valley, one establishment serves it’s national dish with a dedication to that freshness. Pho Zen is a restaurant that prides itself on tradition with its foods, with much of its influence coming from the city of Hội An. And while there are many great items to try on the menu, such as the rice plates served with fish sauce and the vermicelli noodle bowls, the pho that the restaurant is named after is the true star of the menu.

it adds a nice touch of brightness to the gloom of Oregon’s November weather. You can choose a variety of beef cuts to be added to the broth, including brisket, tendon and tripe, and each bowl is served with a plate of accoutrements (basil leaves, a lime wedge, jalapeno slices and bean sprouts) to help ramp up the flavor. “It’s a family recipe,” says Nguyen. “Our pho is really fresh and really healthy. Our broth takes 24 hours to make!” With how delicious it turns out, it’s clear that the time it takes to make is worth it.

Boxer Ramen

Multiple Locations

A bowl of Boxer Ramen Tonkotsu-Shio.

If you’re looking for a restaurant to truly indulge with this holiday season, look no further than Boxer Ramen. With multiple locations around the Portland area, Boxer is one of the more prevalent ramen destinations in the city. A very good thing, considering how fantastic the food is.They have a very inviting atmosphere, with ‘90’s alternative playing and after one of their starters, such as a refreshing wakame salad or the American-Japanese fusion of okonomiyaki tots (tater tots covered in tonkatsu sauce with bonito flake), it’s time to choose the highlight of the meal: the ramen. There are several kinds on the menu, such as the shiitake-shoyu or the vegan veggie curry, but the real stars here are the ones with their house-made pork broth. The Tonkotsu-Shio is a huge bowl of noodles and broth with thick slices of pork belly, scallions, black garlic oil and a whole poached egg. It’s loaded with rich umami flavor, and if you get the spicy red miso version, it has a lingering spicy kick. After an afternoon of browsing Powell’s and exploring downtown Portland on a hazy December afternoon, no meal is better.

Thai Sunflowers

13551 SE 145th Ave, Happy Valley

A bowl of Thai curry soup.

One thing that goes great lengths to counteract the cold winter weather is spices. Perhaps no food is a better example of this than curry. When those spices are balanced just right, it can be an absolutely delicious meal. Thai Sunflower is a food cart that gets this. While not technically a soup or stew, Thai curry is similar, and it just wouldn’t feel right to not include their pumpkin curry. Served alongside jasmine rice, it is creamy, complex and colorful, with large chunks of tender pumpkin and some red bell peppers to add some tasty texture. Looking for MORE heat? Their curry comes with 5 different levels of spiciness for those who want to go the extra mile. If you’re looking for a meal that warms your stomach AND your taste buds, this one would be the way to go.

Dan and Louis Oyster Bar

208 SW Ankeny St, Portland

Dan and Louis Oyster Bar restaurant; temporarily closed during the COVID-19 freeze.

Located in an alleyway near Portland’s riverfront, Dan and Louis is one of the cities’ oldest restaurants. Opened in 1907, it has been serving seafood and some of the best oysters in Oregon for over 100 years. Besides the oysters, however, there’s one food that really stands out on the menu, that being the exceptional chowder. It comes in two varieties: a more traditional clam chowder, and the Pacific Northwest inspired smoked salmon chowder. Both are absolutely delicious, with perfectly creamy broth and large chunks of potato. With a recipe this old, it has clearly been perfected. For my money, there is no better chowder in Oregon, and no better place to get your seafood kick this winter.

NOTE: This restaurant will be completely closed during the temporary COVID-19 freeze.