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A Litchfield County Tour of Hot and Hearty Soups Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Litchfield County Tour of Hot and Hearty Soups  Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011
By Daniella Forte

When December nips at your heels and Jack Frost seems to get his spindly fingers inside your clothing like a pick-pocket, the allure of crisp, cold foods goes like the autumn leaves. Hot and hearty are in demand, and nothing fills the bill like a big bowl of soup.

Soup has such a storied place in the realm of dining because it is about far more than savory flavors and sustenance. Good soup tells a story, and it continues a tradition that is passed down through generations.

Bowls of steaming chicken broth with pasta and vegetables are encoded in narratives of our lives as the antidote for the common cold, or as the solution for thawing out a child who played too long in the snow. The first time we taste a velouté as an adult, the hearty side of soups suddenly takes on sex appeal and another fundamental life connection is forged.

Fortunately for residents of western Connecticut, chefs and restaurant owners well understand the power and seduction of beautifully rendered homemade soups. And when fall gives way to winter, bowls of hot, happy delight abound on area menus. Here’s a tour of some of the options, a tour we hope adds respites of warmth and comfort to your holiday shopping or other travels.

At The White Horse country pub in the Marbledale section of Washington, owner John Harris said the soups of chef Fabrice Denis and sous chef Michael Chase are so “amazing” that patrons consumed 14,000 bowls last year.

“They are incredibly fresh and flavorful because they are made every day,” said Mr. Harris. This time of year, popular choices include butternut squash with honey, and cream of mushroom with cognac and truffle.

“Every day we have our French onion soup available,” said Mr. Harris of the classic that comes in a crock. Among winter soups, split pea with smoked ham is also very popular.

Mr. Chase stressed that local ingredients are used whenever possible, and among the soups he highlighted beef barley, cream of chicken and potato-leek.

“It’s not really a set menu,” said Mr. Chase, who said the availability of fresh ingredients dictates which soups are on the menu.

The White Horse is located on Route 202 in Marbledale. For more information, call 860-868-1496, or see the Web site at www.whitehorsecountrypub.com