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Austin Food Bytes Archive, 3

Austin Food Bytes
The International Soup Tour of Austin

Leaves are changing, mornings are chilly, and summer seems to be long gone. I love fall, I love being able to wear my sweaters for the two months of cool weather in Austin , but I don’t love head colds. Yet they seem to be a fact for me and many other this time of year. Still, one way I endure my yearly bout with congestion is through the ingestion of a great many soups. I’m not talking about Campbell ‘s Chicken noodle, I’m talking the variety of savory and spicy soups that can be found all over Austin.

Asian Soups

As you may have guessed from my first column, I’m a huge fan of Asian food. I mentioned pho last week – it’s a clear broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced beef with a variety of herbs, chilies and veggies on the side as garnish. When I have a head cold, I take full advantage of the jalapeños. Be warned, too many of these floating in your soup can render it inedible, so add them gradually until you find the right amount. I like Tam Deli (featured last week) for pho, I also like Triumph Café on Spicewood Springs.

Another great Asian soup is the “Just Wonton” soup from Noodle-ism on 5th street . “Just Wonton” is a little joke — this soup has pretty much everything in it. It contains lots of wontons, chicken, beef, shrimp, veggies, and a whole lot of garlic and chili. Ask for the spice paste on the side, and adjust as necessary. The broth is slightly salty, but the garlic and spice give it a lot of extra body. I love this soup on cold evenings.

When I lived in San Francisco Thai food was all the rage, and I got seriously addicted to it. A staple at most Thai restaurants is Tom Ka Gai. It’s a lemongrass and coconut milk soup with chicken and mushrooms. It’s tart and slightly creamy, and often quite spicy with strong ginger accents. I like the Tom Ka Gai at Thai Kitchen on Guadalupe.

If you’d like something healthy and savory but not so spicy, try a bowl of udon. Udon noodles are thick wheat noodles, and the broth is usually chicken based, or sometimes dashi, a broth made from kelp and fish flakes. If you’ve ever had miso soup, dashi is the broth sans the miso (the cloudy stuff). The udon at Wiki Wiki Teriaki is healthy and delicious, and you can have it with your choice of tofu, chicken, shrimp, beef or shrimp tempura.

Mexican Soups

The two types of this soup I’m most familiar with are Tortilla Soup and Posole. They’re both available several places, and each restaurant has it’s own take on them.

For posole, I go to Taqueria Arandas. They have posole on the weekends. It’s a spicy broth with chunks of juicy roasted pork and hominy – large, soft corn kernels. It’s usually served with a side of tortillas — corn, flour or crispy tostada, and shredded lettuce, lime wedges and chopped onions.

For a fancier, spicier and more New Mexico style of posole, try South Congress Café. Their posole is very dark and rich, and has a stew-like texture. Be warned, it’s very, very peppery.

Tortilla soup is usually a kicked up version of them more traditional chicken soup. It can have vegetables or not, cheese or not, and usually includes some tomatoes. Curra’s has a great tortilla soup that features lots of vegetables and a whole roasted chipotle pepper. You can adjust the spiciness level by smashing it into the soup a little or a lot.

For a tasty and fast tortilla soup, pick some up in the Café on the Run section of Central Market. It’s flavorful, basic, and they don’t stint on the chicken. They also have a special soup they only carry occasionally called Chicken Guajillo. It’s kind of like the tortilla soup but without the tortilla. It’s very rich, very spicy, has a distinct red chili flavor. I like to add my own tortilla chips and a little cheese for a very kicked up version of tortilla soup.

Taqueria Arandas #3
6534 Burnet
Austin 78757
Hours: Daily, 7am- midnight, No credit cards at numbers 1 and 4

6801 Burnet Rd.
Austin 78757
Hours: Sun-Sat, 9am-10pm

614 E. Oltorf
Austin 78704
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 7am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 7am-11pm

4001 N. Lamar
Austin 78756
Hours: Daily, 9am-9pm

4477 S. Lamar
Austin 78745
Hours: Daily 9am-9pm

1600 S. Congress
Austin 78704
Hours: Brunch Daily, 10am-4pm; Dinner 5-10pm Daily

3808 Spicewood Springs
Austin 78759
Hours: Mon
-Thu, 7am-7pm; Fri, 7am-11pm, Sat, 8am-11pm

107 W. Fifth
Austin 78701
Hours: Mon-Thur, 11am-10pm; Fri, 11am-11pm;
Sat, 12pm-11pm; Sun, 12-9pm

Wiki-Wiki Teriyaki
10000 Research Blvd. # 139 Austin, TX 78759
Mon — Sat 11:00 AM — 9:00 PM

Thai Kitchen
3009 Guadalupe
Austin 78705
Hours: Sun, Noon-12am; Mon-Thu, 11am-12am; Fri, 11am-2am; Sat, Noon-2am

1 comment to Austin Food Bytes Archive, 3

  • I spent a year as an exchange student in Kyoto Japan, and I have to say I probably wouldnt have gotten by if it wasnt for a delicious dinner of udon a couple of times a week! There is even one shop where you can eat for free if you do 30 minutes of washing the dishes after, but I cant say I was ever that poor! Anyway, I found a load more tasty looking ideas at this udon recipe site.

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