Fire up the soup kettles.
Summer has come to a close and good-tasting soup is a great way to compensate for its passing.
The good news here is that a growing number of Western New York restaurants make delicious soups available now. I'm talking about soup that is built on homemade stocks instead of the "bases," which were so often utilized in the bad old days.
Most local upscale restaurants make interesting soups - look for pumpkin and squash versions as fall advances - but the places I list here are much more casual. You can feel perfectly comfortable dropping in and ordering a simple large bowl of soup with some bread.
And what could be more perfect?
I'm very fond, for instance, of the Brodo Soup served - where else? - at Brodo, 4548 Main St., Amherst (near Harlem Road). It's a special concoction of sweet Italian sausage, Swiss chard, tomatoes, onion and garlic with farfalle, and it has a cute little kick to it that makes it as satisfying on a hot summer day as during a blizzard.
The other three soups on Brodo's menu change regularly, but all are freshly homemade, and there's always a vegetarian option. But why agonize over decisions? The fun way to order Brodo is as part of the "flight" of three soups - getting more than a taste of each.
I've already mentioned the importance of bread to a good soup meal, so it's nice to know that the Elm Street Bakery, 72 Elm St., East Aurora, always has two freshly made soups available to accompany its exceptional baked goodies. This week it's Ratatouille Soup and French Onion.
The bread comes out of brick ovens. Varieties include EA Sourdough, honey wheat and even, occasionally, a bialy. (A bialy is a chewy roll topped with fried onions before baking.)
Finally, there are many restaurants that now serve pho (pronounced "fuh"), the Vietnamese noodle soup, usually based on anise-flavored beef broth.
One of my favorites places to get it is at 99 Fastfood, 3396 Bailey Ave., a nonfancy and friendly place where all the food just happens to be wonderful. Diners add accoutrements like jalapenos, basil and lime. Throw in Siriracha hot sauce and life is good. Very good. This soup has everything. It's delicious, it's inexpensive and it's low calorie.
Send your questions to Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org