Silver Spoons: Soup's On

To celebrate the balmy temps soon to arrive, we’d like to honor the equally steamy bowl of soup. Wait. What? You’re not up for hitching a ride on the chili train once the buds pop? We’ve found five soups you don’t have to wait unti
Strawberry Bisque 
The bowl: A mix of pureed strawberries, fresh lime juice, reduced sangria and cream that’s initially sweet, tart in the middle and smooth at the finish. “People don’t really know what to expect,” says chef Matthew Moore.
The Inspiration: Moore loves strawberries. He loves bisque. And he loves staying in business. For an eatery that specializes in steaming bowls of soup, hot weather doesn’t exactly attract crowds. “We had to do something to bring people in during the summer,” he says.
The twist: “[People] get excited about it because it’s something different. ... It’s like a strawberry pie, but cold. That’s why it keeps coming back every year.”
An extra ladle: Need to bring a dessert to a barbecue? Dress up a batch of strawberry bisque with fresh whipped cream (preferably chocolate), mint leaves and cookies for dipping.2528 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, (216) 737-7687; 14809 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, (216) 712-7292

Butternut Soup
Sun Luck Garden

The Bowl: A curried coconut-squash soufflé inside translucent dough, served in a sweet corn broth.

The Inspiration:
“It’s personal. I like the taste, look, smell and color of butternut,” says chef Annie Chiu.

The twist:
A fan of the traditional French version, Chiu sought an Asian fusion for her favored ingredient by adding dumplings and traditional spices including curry and coconut.

An Extra Ladle:
“Initially, I had a lot of people return it because they thought I had given them wonton,” says Chiu. “People wouldn’t believe it wasn’t wonton.” 1901 S. Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, (216) 397-7676

Stilton Cheddar Ale Soup
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

The Bowl: A creamy blend of Stilton and cheddar cheeses backed by Dortmunder Gold Lager.

The Inspiration:
The natural pairing of beer and cheese.

The twist:
It has to be the right match, says chef Rock

Finley. Tired of most cheddar cheese soups, he adds five pounds of Stilton to each batch. “The Dortmunder is not very hoppy or heavy, so it doesn’t drown out the cheese,” he says.

An Extra Ladle:
The soup has been a star on the GLBC menu for 20 years. The restaurants sells 30 to 40 gallons in the winter and 40 to 50 gallons in the summer. 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland, (216) 771-4404

Cuban Black Bean Soup
The Bowl: Simmered black beans, sofrito, a mix of onions, peppers and garlic, with pico de gallo and key lime crème fraiche.

The Inspiration:
Chef Robert Cabrales used a recipe from his father’s mother’s sister’s grandmother’s ... (you get the idea) to create his version of this Latin-American staple. “It’s a little chunkier, heartier and thicker than what people are used to,” he says.

The twist:
Every Latin-American country has its version of black bean soup, but Paladar goes the lighter, vegetarian route.

An Extra Ladle:
Make it vegan by holding the crème fraiche. 28601 Chagrin Blvd., Suite 900, Woodmere, (216) 896-9020

Gumbo Yayap

The Bowl: A soul-stirring medley of andouille, passo and chicken steeped in a smoky, red-brown roux.

The Inspiration:
A 13-year stint in the Big Easy for chef Dave Russo, then six months to perfect it.

The twist:
Most gumbos use a basic stock that mimics the dish’s meat, but Russo fortifies his homemade chicken stock with a second simmer over ham hock. “This reduction elevates the stock flavor to match the flavor of the rest of the ingredients,” he says.

An Extra Ladle:
To summer-ize his spicy gumbo, Russo suggests mixing it with cold potato salad. 4895 State Road, Peninsula, (330) 923-2665

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