Spring Forward

Still time for soup

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A really good soup can be a difficult thing to find—unless you’re an expert in the kitchen or you have an inside scoop on where to go in Whatcom County to find hearty, wholesome bowls of broth that will warm your insides and chase the winter blues far away.

Our neighbors down south have long known that Ivar’s is a go-to place for incredible seafood soups. That tradition started back in 1938 with Ivar Haglund’s homemade clam chowder. Today, Ivar’s is still churning out incredible meals in a bowl filled with all things quintessentially Northwest.

There’s crab bisque and three types of clam chowder, but my personal favorite is Ivar’s Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Chowder. Featuring generous quantities of Alaskan Keta Salmon smoked over native hardwood, the chowder contains potatoes, garlic, onion, celery, spices, roasted red bell pepper puree and cream.

The only place to get this one ready-made in the county is at Bellis Fair Mall, where Ivar’s has a takeout presence in the food court. But if you want to feed the family, head to the freezer section of Cash n Carry on Ohio Street, where you’ll find a bulk frozen version of the soup. Throw it in a pot, add a baguette or a great loaf from Avenue Bread and dinner is made.

Anyone who has lived in Bellingham for a significant amount of time can testify to the fact that Fairhaven’s Colophon Café (http://www.colophoncafe.com) is a local treasure, even for the fussiest or most diet-restricted diners among us. Owners Dave and Stacey Killian offer five soups ($7.50-$8.95 per bowl), two of which have been longtime menu staples.

The split pea soup is chock-full of nutrients and goodness. The concoction has a porridge-like consistency that is deeply filling and satisfying, and is vegan and fat-free. The African peanut soup is another popular choice, with a blend of ground peanuts, ginger root, tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper and turkey.

Locals have their favorites—I’m firmly in the split pea camp—but if you’re not sure what you like best, just ask for tasters.

She calls herself a “dump and pour” chef, but the truth is that Linda Melim, co-owner of Leaf & Ladle (http://www.facebook.com/leafandladle) is a talented lady, especially when it comes to her soups. She has made it her goal to have at least four rich, chunky, wholesome soups available so that whoever walks through her door—be they vegan, vegetarian, gluten-intolerant or carnivorous—will have their pick.

The day I visited the State Street locale, Southwest corn and chicken chowder was competing with wild mushroom and kale soup, hearty veggie, and a curried squash soup. I tried three and found the choice almost impossible, as each was delicious.

Among Melim’s vast selection of soups are salmon chowder featuring Lummi Island sockeye, split pea with smoked pork, gazpacho, and a cream-free tomato basil. If you don’t have time to join her at the restaurant, the soups are sold in quart-size containers. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll be good to go.

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