Though the city of Rye is small in size, it has lots to offer, from small boutiques and neighborhood restaurants on Purchase Street to cafes that serve a wide variety of soups.
In an attempt to explore everything the city has to offer, Rye Patch is launching a monthly feature that will compare local favorites--from Rye's best slice of pizza to its best dessert offerings.
Since the weather outside is a bit frightful, I decided to venture to Rye on a chilly January afternoon to warm up at some of the city's most well-known cafes and lunch destinations. I tasted four vegetable soups on a quest for Rye's best:
Patisserie Salzburg, celebrated for its Viennese coffee and Austrian pastries, also serves an elaborate lunch fare. I joined the women-who-lunch and tried a cup of roasted tomato soup, which came in a large bowl for the economical price of $3.75. A thick purée of roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, black pepper, and shavings of parmigiano-reggiano, it conveyed the ideal balance between the sweet taste of the roasted tomatoes and the spicy heat of the pepper flakes.
After a short walk down Purchase Street, I was seated at Le Pain Quotidien to try its soup-of-the-day: mushroom. Fifteen minutes later, I was still waiting. When it finally did arrive, the soup was watery and, at $5.25, overpriced. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms could hardly be tasted over the soup's saltiness. One might wonder if the chef had attempted to salvage the briny broth with a large heap of chopped parsley that floated on its surface. A redeeming factor was the crusty slice of baguette that accompanied it. Yet, this comes as no surprise–le pain is what this chain café is known for best.
Onwards and upwards, I say! I made a beeline for Andy's Pure Food, a vegan café that serves a large variety of soups daily, including Cauliflower, Carrot Ginger, Lentil, and Zucchini. I tasted the lentil soup–puréed yellow lentils with finely chopped carrots, onion, and red peppers. Flavored with Middle Eastern spices including cumin and coriander, the soup–a half pint is $4.95–had a hot kick to it that would be sure to fire you up midday.
While I was originally planning on only sampling three soups, I couldn't help but notice the foot-traffic that was bustling in and out of the gourmet deli June & Ho. Sure enough, after I had investigated the premises, I discovered the deli's lunch trade included a bean and escarole soup. Tender white cannellini beans, leafy green escarole, and chopped carrots; this soup is the definition of hearty. At $3.79, which includes a hunk of baguette, June & Ho's bean and escarole soup is sure to warm even a Grinch's heart on a sub-freezing day.
The Verdict: Overall, Patisserie Salzburg's roasted tomato soup with its potent potage and bargain price trumped the competition.
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