Is it the time of year for interminable soup threads? I think it is. Here is my entry to start it up. Soup haters, we know who you are and you can just skip the thread. We know you don't get it. The rest of you, please share your soup faves, wherever they are.
The last couple of days I have been fortunate to have 2 very good bowls of soup, much to my surprise. In recent years, I had given up on soup in most chowish places and settled on Udon or Soup Noodles as being the only quality soups around here. Carne en su jugo had been a recent and very positive discovery, but as I have said before, there is no decent Mexican food out here. Everything else either came from a can, or was made to conform to the Campbell's ideal. To be honest, I am becoming just a little bored with my oriental noodle soups, and was looking for more. Yesterday, I got lucky, so today I was looking again and a coworker pointed me back to an old friend made new again. Thanks to them!
There are still people who make and serve real soup!!
Veronika's started life as Susan's Place, a nice little coffee/sandwich/baked goods shop run by Susan, the waitress and daughter of the owners at what was once a very good N'ville Chinese place, Yen Ching. For whatever reason, Susan moved on and left the place to her assistant, a young polish lady whose name is probably Veronika, though I cannot be sure as her English and my Polish are such that we cannot converse (I have a container of carrot salad in my bag where herring is supposed to be to prove that we do not communicate well). Veronika has converted the place gradually into a Polish deli that also serves hot meals. Unfortunately, it does not have a real kitchen, so their polish meals, dumplings, cutlets, etc, suffer a little and after a brief infatuation a year ago, I had moved on.
Today's soup was great. Beet soup with everything you can imagine. Meats included ham, liver dumpling, bacon and maybe a little sausage (just little bits of each and the ham and bacon could have been parts of the same thing). Strips of beet, shreds of carrot, chunks of potato, and probably some onion, too. Seasoning was noticably fresh dill, some dried berry (is it allspice? sorry, I do not know) and a dollop of whipped cream in a broth with guts. A big bowl for $1.97 including good rye bread. I think I need to go regularly this winter. They also offer a number of quite reasonably priced, big, and very filling entrees that I will revisit. There usually are young, polish contractor types taking their lunch there, too, if you like that. Not your typical west suburban crowd.
Yesterday I had occasion to revist another place I went to once last year. The Carol Stream Deli appears to be one of those places that has been there forever and is run for the amusement of the owners. Dimly lit, with a display cooler half full of meats, cheeses and sausages, and a few racks of other things, which you can only half see. The floor is covered with sheets of cardboard, to provide traction, I suppose. The place seems temporary, slapdash, either in the process of redecorating, opening or going out of business. Since it was the same a year ago, none of that is true. They make a decent and inexpensive Italian sub, $2.75 for a 6 incher yesterday. Not a great sub, but good ingredients on a passable Turano roll, at a good price. Not bliss, but satisfying.
I wanted soup, too, and despite my general distaste for cream soups in restaurants (no more thickener, PLEASE!), I felt drawn to the Cream of Potato that day. The first hint was when he offered a choice between that and Chicken Noodle, but was not sure the Cream of Potato was quite ready at 11am. Then he went and stirred it around to see - good steam, lots of chunks of vegetables, and not too thick. Definitely not the glutinous mess I hate. So I bit. Okay, he was right, it could have cooked a little more. The potatoes and celery were quite crunchy - just barely done. The creamy base (no thickener I could discern here) complemented potatoes, celery, carrot shreds and scallions. Lightly seasoned and delightful, a soup I would gladly serve at home. Go, enjoy, I say.
1600 Maple Ave
Carol Stream Deli
184 North Gary Ave.
Carol Stream, Il
BTW, there is a place with a Sushi buffet in the strip mall with Veronika's. As an opponent of most buffets, Sushi buffets, and this buffet specifically, all I can say is don't go. This is another Korean/Japanese place that has gone through many names changes and has continued to serve mediocre food throughout, sad to say. (And the Ultimo will testify that I like my Korean food, so I wish they could get it right). Next to that is an Asian market that I really should check out.
A couple of doors down from the Carol Stream Deli is a truly horrid Chinese place (to think I went there one day instead of the Deli!), and am pretty sure there is a Mexican place that I have not tried. It did not look too promising to these eyes.