Born and raised in Spokane, I couldn’t tell you how many times the reverb of “get a coat on” rang through the anterior of my neighborhood. I grew up on a quiet street where rain or shine, groups of preteens played street hockey and Red Rover.
Many of us never left not due to a lack of opportunity but more so the Pacific and Inland Northwest have a knack of turning nature into nostalgia. Barring a few imposing years, Spokane observes four distinct seasons, and their contrast connects us at our core.
Chilly weather isn’t discouraging but an excuse to break out a heavier hoodie (sorry, Mom, I still don’t own a coat) and polish up our spoon. Seek asylum in a bowl of bone broth, and investigate soup-inspired eateries whose imaginations ignite the fuel for our soul.
And considering the latest COVID-19 restrictions, call ahead for takeout options, hours and any other questions you may have for the restaurant.
Honey Eatery & Social Club – North Idaho
317 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene; (208) 930-1514 and honeyeateryandsocialclub.com
While Christmas lore has children snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums, I’m busy dreaming of roasted purple potato soup. Adam Hegsted-owned Honey Eatery is no stranger to tradition. The James Beard-nominated chef once worked in this exact building before buying it as part of his restaurant collective Eat Good Group in 2010.
Now executive chef Justin Klauba is at its helm and uses soup to broaden his customers’ horizons. It’s not every day you sit down to a lunch offering purple potatoes, leeks, smoked black peppercorns, crispy shallots and a toasted mallow whip.
“I’m kind of a fat kid that likes tasty comfort food,” Klauba says. “Next, I might do a soup with artichoke and black truffle, then top it with a poached egg and honey cotton candy.” Honey reopens after a few weeks of renovations on Nov. 27.
Hay J’s Bistro – Liberty Lake
21706 E. Mission Ave, Liberty Lake; (509) 926-2310 and hayjsbistro.com
When I have friends in from out of town, we often find ourselves at Hay J’s. I lure them with promises of local ingredients and fresh seafood, and there is always a bit of a surprise when we pull up to a remote building attached to a gas station.
Chef Patrick Fechser, who opened Hay J’s in 2006, has since expanded next door with Piccolo Kitchen and Bar and Butcher’s Block. Their wildly popular seafood chowder, Fechser explains, is a bit of a testament to running a butcher shop.
“It always has prawns and clams, but it can also have a combination of halibut, ahi tuna or wild salmon.” Hay J’s focus has always been based on product that is local and in season. The latest soup has roasted sugar pie pumpkins from Heritage Farms in Spokane Valley.
Vintage Vines Bistro – Spokane Valley
106 N. Evergreen Road, Spokane Valley; (509) 443-3841 and vintagevinesbistro.com
If you wanted a tour of Vintage Vines, you could take one faster than reading this paragraph about the business. The quaint little beer and wine shop off Evergreen is almost indistinguishable to drivers-by, but for what it lacks in size, it makes up for with giant personality.
Owners Jake Schneider and Clay Graff are longtime industry workers (and best friends since age 12) who took the leap as restaurateurs in late 2019. “Our kitchen is tiny, so we have to use it to our advantage,” Schneider insists.
I didn’t need further explanation because I was three spoons into his chicken and wild rice soup. “Kitchens that lack size and certain equipment better bank on having things like a great soup,” he adds. I obviously agree because I’ve gone back every week to try the newest concoction.
Clover – Logan District
913 E. Sharp Ave.; (509) 487-2937 and cloverspokane.com
There are many growing neighborhoods in our area but none more exciting than the Gonzaga neighboring Logan District. Clover is at its focal point. The popular restaurant was recently acclaimed by realtor.com in part of its “Top 10 Emerging Food Cities.”
Chef Bryan Doyle is known as a bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen. In my last few sittings there, I experienced things like Twinkie-fried sweetbreads and pickled corn on the cob. “Soups are just another way to play,” Doyle cackles.
His composure is a kid in a candy store. The namesake French onion soup is anything but sweet. Its rich umami broth is completely hidden under a trap door of parmesan and gruyere. A garlic crostini and sautéed onions are your only life boat.
Soulful Soups – Downtown
117 N. Howard St.; (509) 459-1190 and soulfulsoupsspokane.com
“Spicy mac ’n’ cheese soup on Fridays is what people live for – it’s why they wake up in the morning,” owner Lauren D’Arienzo tells me with a mischievous laugh. You can tell from her expression that she is far from exaggerating.
Lunch is the name of the game for the downtown working class, and Soulful offers something quick and unique from the plethora of taco and sandwich shops. I recently dove into a bowl of the chicken artichoke.
It is the perfect soup re-creation of the classic cheesy artichoke dip you’d have as an appetizer. It is rich and creamy with a surprisingly nutty roasted artichoke essence. Pair this with the already famous beer bread, and you have a match made in gluttony heaven.
Manito Tap House – South Hill
3011 S. Grand Blvd.; (509) 279-2671 and manitotaphouse.com
With acclaim such as being named “Best Beer Bar in Washington State” by craftbeer.com, one wouldn’t be surprised at the level of dedication to the draft system. What is impressive is the equal amount of love given to the menu. Chef Nicole Wells explains how she tries to do a true small-batch soup of the day.
“I love to make a really special jalapeno cheddar, or my recent favorite was a play on Olive Garden’s zuppa toscana. Everyone loved it so much, I put it on the actual menu,” she says. I was lucky enough to show up when a lamb stew with Greek yogurt was on the menu. I love entering a restaurant that always has something new to explore, beer or soup alike.
Downriver Grill – Northside
3315 W. Northwest Blvd.; (509) 323-1600 and downrivergrill.com
When I think of inspired soups, the first one in town that comes to mind is the shrimp bisque at Downriver Grill. Downriver always offers an array of uncommon soups, but there is something special about the bisque.
Chef and owner Juli Norris shared that the team makes more than 15 gallons of the soup each week. The soup is “thickened with fresh shrimp and rice and finished with homemade crème fraiche and a vanilla shrimp oil that adds a perfect sweetness and tang,” Norris says. Epicurean even named it as a favorite dish.
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