photo by Angelina Aragon

Soupy Sales

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: January 2019

Chill-bitten Valley diners are bowled over by roasted vegetable soup.

Rusconi’s American Kitchen
10637 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix
480-483-0009, rusconiskitchen.com
Most Phoenicians will tell you they love Arizona’s warm weather, but there are plenty of closet winter lovers who break out the sweaters and slurp hot soup at the first sign of a 50-degree day. Roasted vegetable soups are a hearty way to combat the chill. Chef Michael Rusconi of Rusconi’s American Kitchen makes a velvety roasted cauliflower soup ($5.50 for a cup, $8 for a bowl, pictured) by pan-roasting the snowy florets in hot oil until browned and caramelized. “Roasting brings out deeper flavor,” he says. To make the soup creamy without using dairy, Rusconi adds potatoes to the broth, and garnishes the bowl with a spoonful of smoked bacon, bits of chopped parsley and a sprinkle of earthy pine nuts. The beauty of Rusconi’s ode to cauliflower is the simplicity of his ingredients. “Guests don’t have to worry about what’s in the soup. There’s nothing hidden.”

LON’s at The Hermosa Inn
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley
844-423-3981, hermosainn.com
If you order roasted kabocha squash soup ($11) at Lon’s, expect to be served tableside. The server presents an empty bowl garnished with a patch of crunchy pumpkin-seed brittle topped with a dab of crème fraîche, then pours the colorful orange soup over the top. Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a sweet but mild flavor, which LON’s executive chef Jeremy Pacheco deftly enhances with chicken stock, Fuji apples and shallots. He finishes the puréed soup with pumpkin-seed oil and Queen Creek Olive Mill Meyer lemon olive oil, giving it just a hint of citrus “to open up the flavors.” Pacheco sources the squash from family-run McClendon’s Select organic farm. “We love getting local produce.”

The Covenant
4740 E. Shea Blvd., Phoenix
602-595-7440, thecovenantaz.com
Having a bowl of roasted tomato soup ($7) at The Covenant is like a hug from Mom on a rainy day. Topped with a forest-green zigzag of pesto, the soul-satisfying soup is made from Roma tomatoes roasted in the restaurant’s 900-degree wood-fire oven. The blended soup comes with a grilled cheese crostini – sourdough blanketed with melted white cheddar cheese – that’s perfect for dipping. “The tomato soup has 15 ingredients to get that flavor profile,” general manager Jon Woo says. The Covenant serves the tangy tomato soup as a starter, or at lunch alongside the restaurant’s grilled cheese melt. If asked, Woo will give out the recipe. “We share the love here.”