Good Taste : For a quick warm lunch, seek out the soup options on Martha's Vineyard
File photo by Laura Wainwright
In March we are teased with sun-filled days that get our hopes up for warmer weather. Spring is not quite here and we are quickly reminded of it when we leave our wool hats at home. A good solution to a bone-chilling day is soup, a food that nourishes and warms the body from the inside out. This inexpensive lunch is widely available on the Island, with many different varieties to choose from.
We have all heard a version of the stone soup folk tale in which a stone inspires a community to cooperatively create a meal amid scarcity. A soup was made by mixing a hodgepodge of ingredients, a little of this and a little of that, donated by community members. This story evokes modern-day soup kitchens where community members donate their time and funds to help those in need. The stone in the story can be traced back to our early ancestors, who are said to have used hot stones to heat liquids in rudimentary vessels that could not be placed directly over open fire, hence an early version of soup.
In 18th-century Paris, establishments served nutritious restorative soups that are believed to be linked to the origin of the modern day restaurant. Soup is a food that we eat when we are sick, it gives us comfort and hope that we will feel better soon. Some people swear by chicken noodle, while others like tomato with a grilled cheese sandwich. Personally, the Vietnamese soup Pho is my healing potion.
Evident in the steaming Cup of Noodles in Times Square and Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Cans, soup has been transformed from a humble easily digestible food for invalids to a pop culture commercial item that lines our grocery store shelves.
While many restaurants offer takeout, here is a road map to quick pick-up and to-go options on the Island:
One of the best bangs for your buck is lunch at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital cafeteria with soup starting at $1.50 for a small and $2 for a large cup.
Post workout, grab some soup at the YMCA Café, or while you're grocery shopping have a hot cup at Tony's Market or Reliable Market, which offers a soup and sandwich combo at the deli counter.
To-go soups are also available at Skinny's Fat Sandwiches and Mocha Mott's, where offerings change daily.
Vineyard Haven is packed with places to grab soup and go. Most establishments change their soups daily so you won't be bored with the offerings available.
Both Black Dog Bakery and Café locations as well as Woodland Variety and Grill serve chowder everyday and also have soup of the day options.
Waterside Market has daily soup specials such as broccoli cheddar or potato leek and offers tomato basil, French onion, as well as turkey chili on a regular basis.
Selections vary every day at Tisbury Farm Market and Cronig's Market as well as Rocco's Pizzeria, Mocha Mott's, The Scottish Bakehouse, and Humphreys Bakery.
Try a soup and sandwich at Edgartown Meat and Fish Market or Shiretown Meats. Edgartown Meat and Fish displays its soups of the day on its Facebook page. Specials have included tomato bisque, butternut squash and apple soup, and split pea and ham soup. Shiretown Meats is consistent with their soup, offering kale soup and chili every day.
Fella's Take Out offers chili and a soup of the day. Up Island Cronig's also serves soup that changes daily.
If you are flying off the Island, or don't want to drive into town, stop by The Plane View at the airport for their clam chowder, served daily, or sample the soup that they are serving.
Finally, warm up at Menemsha Fish Market with a hot cup of either lobster bisque or clam chowder.
Make your own
Though canned and dehydrated soups are quick to make, there is nothing quite like a pot of simmering homemade soup on the back burner.
Historically, soup was a cheap way to feed a lot of mouths, made from scraps of protein and vegetables. Nowadays, soup can be made out of almost anything to create a meal layered with complex flavors and textures. Once a dish that preceded the meal, soup now stands as meal on its own: just grab a hunk of bread, dip and enjoy.
Stock: The base of any soup starts with a full-bodied stock. As you trim or break down proteins, be sure to save the scraps and bones. These as well as vegetable scraps can be saved in the freezer for stock. Most stocks consist of bones, mirepoix (a combination of celery, onion, and carrot), bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, wrapped in cheese cloth and tied with twine) and water. This is a base to which a multitude of seasonings and flavors can be added (don't forget to season with salt). Stocks should be slowly simmered and skimmed of impurities and scum. Once the stock is done, strain out solids, chill and skim the fat from the surface. Now you are ready to create your soup or freeze for later use.
I like to freeze stock in ice cube trays. This way I can create quick cups of soup with whatever I have on hand instead of a large pot that will last for days. If I have leftover pasta or roasted meat, I may make pasta in brodo or chicken, spinach, and lemon soup. Try your own combinations with what you have on hand.