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
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