Saturday, November 8, 2008

Soup Wars Part I

Harvest Pumpkin Soup

As JAM mentioned last week we will be posting every Friday with a review of soups from some local chains. I think the first time I stumbled upon Au Bon Pain was while I was waiting to board the bus to NYC to visit Jenny, so I think it is only fitting that this place gets the first review.

Au Bon Pain serves up a variety of sandwiches, salads, pastries, breads, and most importantly SOUP! Au Bon Pain is located a block from my office, so it is a great place to grab lunch. I have recently become obsessed with their soups (I got soup 3/5 times this past week). All things squash have been on my mind this fall, and so naturally I have gravitated towards soup featuring this seasonal vegetable.

I have had the opportunity to taste the butternut squash, harvest pumpkin, jamaican blackbean, and carrot ginger soups. While I enjoyed all of these flavors, I must say I am partial to one in particular.

The butternut squash and apple is hands down my favorite soup! It is so creamy, without being too rich. The sweetness of the apple compliments the squash nicely. The onion and garlic draw out the flavors of the squash and balance out the sugars of these two main ingredients. The subtle spices of nutmeg and cinammon really take this autumn favorite to the next level. I could probably eat this every day.

The harvest pumpkin has a similar consistency as the butternut squash, but uses more cream to achieve that effect. While the butternut squash soup favors the sweet notes, the pumpkin soup is more of a savory option. There are nice bits of carrot and onion. The cinnamon also plays a bigger role in this soup. I love the pumpkin flavors, but this soup is much richer, making it a better choice on those bitterly cold days.

The jamaican black bean soup was very hearty and packed with protein. It was creamy, with lots of whole beans. The smoky cumin rang through and the sweet bits of pepper and onion added nice flavor and texture contrast. I would have liked a little bit of heat from some peppers to give this soup a little more kick.

I tried the carrot ginger one day when I they were out of butternut squash. I felt like I was settling as I ordered this soup, but was pleasantly surprised when I tried my first spoonful. Again, this soup was smooth, with a slightly more watery consistency than the squash soups. The carrot was sweet and the ginger was not too overpowering. While, I would say this was my least favorite of the four, you really can't go wrong with Au Bon Pain soups. Be sure to add a side of whole grain baguette. This bread is buttery and nutty, with an excellent crust on the outside and soft dough on the inside. So grab a spoon and get ready for lunch!

Butternut squash and apple

3 out of 3 JAMs.

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