Soups and Salads – Some of the Best

22 Nov

The weather here in FL has been unseasonably chilly (I can’t say cold) this past week. It’s 9 a.m. as I type this and the temp is a nippy 50 degrees — BRRRRR!!!! (: And when the weather turns cooler, I always seem to have a craving for a bowl of soup. I have given in to that craving and sampled a variety of soups at local eateries in and around Sarasota. Here are a few of the highlights:


French Onion Soup at The Polo Grill – The Polo Grill is located in Lakewood Ranch, an upscale planned community just east of I-75. The help is always friendly and the setting is sophisticated but casual. There are polo matches played nearby, hence the name. As for the soup, it is swimming with onions and topped with a decadent blanket of white (gruyere?) cheese. It’s messy to eat, but it is totally worth the adventure. Tuck in that cloth napkin and go to town!  


Seafood Soups and Stews at Whole Foods – I have already talked about their wonderful Seafood Cioppino in a previous blog. Since then, I have discovered many other joys of the Whole Foods “Soup Bar.” You really can’t go wrong with the creamy Lobster Bisque, the chunky New England Clam Chowder, or the Roasted Corn and Shrimp Chowder. I sampled the latter for the first time this week and I wasn’t disappointed. Great flavor and not so creamy that you feel like you’ve cheated on your diet. I grabbed a mini baguette and a spring water and enjoyed a really nice lunch for about $6.00.   

Many restaurants around here offer soup and salad combos, other times it just makes sense to pair the two together. It makes for a reasonably healthy and satisfying meal. Two of my favorite salads are featured below:

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad at The Polo Grill – One word: Incredible. Huge chunks of blue cheese and freshly cut pears. The mountain of fresh greens (speckled with pecan pieces) is drizzled with a delicious cherry-based dressing. Give it a try if you ever get to the Polo Grill.


The Fuji Apple Chicken Salad at Panera Bread – Panera is virtually everywhere, so many more of you can take advantage of this one. I became addicted to the Fuji when I was living in Houston. There was a Panera just a stones throw from my office and, believe me, I took advantage of it. The true tastemakers of this dish are the balsamic apple vinaigrette and the pungent Gorganzola cheese. The salad, topped with crisp apple chips, comes with your choice of french bread or an apple. I always opt for the french bread, although you might want to fork over the extra dough (a little bakery humor, folks) for the Asiago Cheese bread — it is amazing! 

Now, get out there and eat with confidence this holiday season!

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