Hearty, Homemade Choices in the Fox Cities
If there’s a particular meal winter is known for, it’s got to be soup. Warm, hearty and said to be good for the soul, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a steaming bowl of the ultimate comfort food.
In the Fox Cities, the following four eateries pride themselves on serving up the best of the best: homemade, high-quality choices that would make anyone melt.
Family owned and operated, Basil Café in Appleton offers freshly prepared, home-style Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine in a warm and welcoming setting.
“There are a lot of soups and noodle soups that we’ve featured over the years here at Basil Café, many of them being very traditional Southeast Asian style soups and noodle soups,” Larry Chomsisengphet, General Manager says.
Phó: Our Phó broth is a traditional Southern Vietnamese broth that is slow simmered and cooked for about 12 hours before serving. Our broth is simple, yet clean and layered with nuanced flavors, yet the flavors aren’t overpowering. For example, you can taste the star anise and cinnamon, and smell the aromatics, but they aren’t the predominant flavor in our Phó.
Kow Boon, or Khao Pboon: This is a traditional Lao noodle soup served with rice vermicelli noodles and the broth is a coconut milk and curry base. At Basil we serve it with really tender, fall off the bone shredded chicken breast. Kow Boon also gets served with accouterments of bean sprouts, lime, mint, cilantro, and shredded cabbage and thinly sliced banana flower (we unfortunately don’t serve ours with banana flower due to availability).
Tom Yum Soup: The soup base is made from tamarind and coconut milk with chili peppers, galangal (blue rooted ginger native to Southeast Asia), lemongrass, and makrut lime leaves (the leaves from the makrut lime tree). This soup has so many flavors; tangy, spicy, creamy, citrusy, but so balanced at the same time. It is a soup that packs a punch in one small spoonful.
Ba Mee Tom Yum: A noodle soup dish that can be found in the streets and food stalls in Thailand. This takes our Tom Yum broth and then we add noodles and your choice of protein, and the kicker is to add an egg yolk to the dish. The crispy noodles give an added texture to the dish, as they’ll stay a bit crispy but then soften up as it absorbs more of the broth.
“Offering unique dishes and being able to introduce them to the Fox Cities has been a real treat for us,” Chomsisengphet adds.
Mark’s East Side
A unique blend of being a classic supper club and a fine dining restaurant, Chef and Owner of Mark’s East Side in Appleton says they have a vast menu that can accommodate any dining occasion, and that includes beloved soups.
French Onion: The French onion is available anytime that we are open. It is served piping hot in a pint size crock with a blend of melted cheese and toasted bread on top.
Clam Chowder: The clam chowder is available every Friday all day long. It is made with fresh local cream and three different types of clams.
“The biggest thing that sets our soups apart from the competition is that they are made in house daily with fresh quality ingredients,” Shea says.
Mary’s Family Restaurant
A staple in the Fox Valley community, Mary’s Family Restaurant in Appleton is locally owned and operated by Reggie Rexhepi.
“This year we’re celebrating 65 years… we are well-known for comfort food, homemade soups and cooking most like mom’s!” he says.
Mary’s Dumpling Soup: It’s the original recipe since Mary Loch opened her first Mary’s location on Badger Avenue back in 1958. Our homemade chili is very popular with our guests as well as another soup that was started with the first owner.
White Chicken Chili: A seasonal soup that is gluten-free. It’s made with great northern beans, diced chicken breast, veggies and seasoned very well!
“Our soups are made daily in small batches and always fresh with high quality ingredients and secret recipes,” Rexhepi says. “We figured there have been over 1 million quarts of Mary’s dumpling soup sold in take out alone over the 65 years. That’s something that makes the staff proud at Mary’s family restaurant.”
Moon Water Cafe
Described as offering a “safe and inviting experience, quaint, cozy, a sense of belonging and an overall unique atmosphere,” by Owner Shannon Boegh and Partner Matthew Rune, Moon Water Cafe in Appleton is an obvious choice when you’re craving soup.
Chicken Curry (Daily but goes fast!): A delicious dance of fresh vegetables, spices, slowly cooked rotisserie chicken, both red and yellow curries from the Far East and a lot of time and work. After the aroma hits you the flavor will take hold.
Italian Sausage Chili (Seasonal): Not your typical Wisconsin-made chili with just noodles, kidney beans and tons of cheese. We start ours by slowly roasting seasonal vegetables, slowly cooking them into the mix and then adding our handmade Italian sausage.
Roasted Squash (Seasonal)
The majority of Moon Water Cafe’s soups are gluten-free, and include a slice of fresh, homemade bread.
“Our other mainstays are our Loaded Baked Potato, Roasted Carrot and Roasted Asparagus and honestly Shannon likes to mix it up on a continuous basis to keep it fresh and new.
“Nothing comes premixed, pre-made, frozen or out of a bag,” they say. “We make everything fresh with the finest, locally sourced ingredients we can find and then we sprinkle a little love and passion into the mix.”
Zuppas Cafe and Catering
A “top-flight chef team led by Chef Peter Kuenzi in an urban cafeteria setting in Neenah with a penchant for local ingredients, Zuppas Cafe and Catering ensures that their food is creative, fresh and ready fast. For lunch and dinner, they offer soups, sandwiches, salads and more. Popular soups:
“We run two daily soups seasonally and every day we run Tomato Basil and Lobster Bisque. We use lots of local ingredients and a creative chef team that loves what we do,” Chef Peter Kuenzi adds.
Popular soups: Butternut Squash, Chicken Dumpling, Chicken Wild Rice, White Chicken Chili, Split Pea with Ham, Navy Bean with Kielbasa and Kale, and New England Clam Chowder.