It's flu season--and no one knows it better than my household. And although I make homemade chicken noodle soup for friends and family when they're sick, when I'm ailing I only want Asian soup--wontons and various broths with rice noodles.
So since right now I'm in bed, here are my favorite soups on the Suncoast--my flu season favorites, if you will (in no particular order).
Duck and rice noodle soup at Pho Saigon. The trick is to order an extra quart of broth and add a little of the spicy hoisin sauce--it adds bold flavor and will drain your sinuses. The duck is abundant but there are a lot of bones (which will actually add to the flavor if you reheat the leftovers).
Pork and wonton noodle soup bowl at Pho Cali. No secret here: I love the No. 79 salad with grilled pork, but when I can't breathe and sound like a frog, Pho Cali's big bowl of light broth with cilantro and delicate homemade wontons hits the spot. The pork is sliced thin and tender; get a side of Thai basil and sliced jalapeño to bump up the flavor if you like spice. And don't forget a frozen mango smoothie with tapioca pearls for your sore throat, too. P.S. The roast chicken noodle soup is just as good--and make sure you pour the soy sauce-based dipping sauce right into the bowl. So delicious.
Chicken and rice soup at Taste of Asia. So simple, but I can't get enough of this light soup, which hits a high note thanks to the addition of crispy shallots. I always order three or four containers so I can sip it throughout the day. The chicken is tender; make sure you ask for a little extra cilantro and chopped scallions. My son's trick is to get a side of panang curry sauce and mix it in for a spicy Thai version.
Basic wonton soup at Bangkok Tokyo. Look for the Chinese section at the back of the menu. The soup is light, with just a touch of julienned roast pork. It reminds of my favorite childhood Chinese place, where we dipped chow mein noodles into sweet sauce at the table.
Roast pork ramen noodle soup at J-Pan. Oh boy, this is one great--rich bone broth is loaded with melt-in-your-mouth pork prepared in the traditional Japanese style. Plus, the ramen noodles will fill you up and give you a good slurp.
Be healthy out there--and if you do catch the flu, let this list remind you to get out your chopsticks and slurp some of these ideal local offerings.