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Comfort and joy
Warm your soul (and body) with Milwaukee's tastiest soups


The New Oxford Dictionary calls soup "a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish or vegetables, etc., in stock or water. What lifts this prosaic entity to the ultimate is the deft touch and knowledge of the soup maker. A soup fan cannot go wrong at any of these comfort food mainstays, selected from among Milwaukee’s top soup joints.

TLC Soup
324 E. Michigan St., Milwaukee

Vegan and gluten-free are integral inclusions in the daily TLC package of sandwiches and soups. Its house soup is traditional chicken, but lobster bisque, potato leek or corn chowder are among the dozens and dozens of possibilities lovingly prepared by owner Renee Warschkow. Manager/son Daniel, who grew up immersed in this aromatic world, typically serves from 200 to 300 TLC fans during the downtown lunch rush.

Jamaican Chicken Stew

1 cup diced yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped ginger
4 cups cooked diced chicken
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 3-ounce jar capers
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons curry
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh cilantro (garnish)

Sauté onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil 5 minutes. Add spices, stirring about 1 minute. Add chicken, tomatoes, black beans, capers, broth and wine. Let simmer 10-15 minutes. Serve over white rice and top with cilantro.

Note: Cornbread makes a great side.

Soups On!
221 N. Water St., Milwaukee

Oh, for another helping of Carnivore Beef Borscht! What? More Veggie Mushroom? And Florentine Chicken? Make it Black Bean Chili, please. All are served hot and friendly under the careful eye of Mary Krimmer, who opened her cozy souperie in 2002 and now has more than 150 recipes for her pots. Rotating artwork adorning the walls and a marvelous view of the bustling Milwaukee River are value-added.

Curried Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions finely chopped
3 stalks celery thinly sliced
2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
l0 ounces canned diced plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups (l0 ounces) dried pink lentils
6 cups vegetable stock
2-3 lemon slices
1 cup fresh spinach leaves coarsely chopped
Pepper and salt to taste

In large kettle over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaf, and saute until the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in the curry powder and cook 1 minute.

Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes and their juice, lentils and lemon slices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and wait until it is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of cayenne pepper (optional).

Ladle into bowls and top with a few fresh spinach leaves, shredded cabbage and a lemon slice. If the soup is too thick, you may add a little more vegetable broth. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: Pink lentils are available at a health food store or Indian specialty store. Outpost Natural Foods carries them in bulk.

The Soup Market
2211 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View
5301 S. 108th St., Hales Corners
Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee

The Soup Market produces six different soups, stews and chilis each day, with more than 200 soups in the recipe file. Popular standards include homemade-from-scratch chicken noodle and chicken dumpling, as well as a vegetarian offering. Try the exotic. Soup maker David Jurena even has a meatloaf and mashed potato soup (dazzled with gravy), based on his grandma’s recipe. Soups by the gallon can be ordered by the really, really hungry. Happily for the public, Jurena and partner Tim Talsky are planning additional locations.

Madeira Mushroom Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup Madeira wine
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups half and half
2 cups sour cream
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In an 8-quart heavy stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 2 pounds sliced mushrooms and sweat until almost dry, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add salt, pepper and Madeira wine, and cook until almost dry. Add remaining mushrooms and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, add cornstarch and just enough water to dissolve. The cornstarch and water mixture should have the consistency of a heavy cream.

With the soup boiling, slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture and return to a full boil. Turn off the heat.

Whisk in the half and half and sour cream until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning is necessary. Makes 6-8 servings.

This soup is great by itself, or it can be used as a sauce for pasta with sautéed vegetables and chicken, or in many slow cooker meals that call for cream of mushroom soup.