Forget Guinness, it's soup that makes you strong.
That's true when you're sick, when you're cold, when you're dragged down by the gray skies and the ceaseless drizzle that defines winter in Portland. Some days, especially as holiday cheer fades into the dreary haze of January, it feels like this whole town has the sniffles.
We're prone to self-medicate—with soup.
The world always seems brighter through the steam rising off a bubbling bowl of broth. A truly great bowl not only nourishes, but comforts, heals and heartens.
It makes sense that Portland—a city that so often fares poorly in mental health surveys—has such a rich soup culture. While razor-clam chowder is the only recipe we can really claim as our own, Portland's passion for bubbling broths has inspired people from all over the world to hand us a bowl.
Some of Japan's top ramen shops picked this city for their first American locations. After eating 39 bowls of ramen across the city, we found that most of the best stuff comes from the two newest imports.
It's no secret to foodies, but one of Portland's most beloved restaurants is a divey Vietnamese soup shop that sells its world-beating bowls for the price of two Frappuccinos. We talked to the family about the bowls of bun bo Hue that took it from a hellish refugee camp to the pages of Bon Appétit and Lucky Peach.
As we spooned through the city for this issue, we also found some surprises. Like a farm-to-table Japanese spot that's now doing a luxe version of Japanese-style hot pot, a lively pozole showcasing locally made hominy , and a Russian spot making lagman, a long-lost cousin to ramen.
We also talked to the chef who's about to open what may be Portland's first great house of Chinese soup dumplings, got another to share his recipe for one of Portland's best-loved deli soups, and learned the secrets behind an extraordinary version of classic cioppino with Oregon-caught Dungeness crab.
It's cold, it's wet, and the country looks to be headed for 1,460 dark days.
Grab a spoon.