The Soup Scoop

In search of Seattle’s sexiest soups


Pozole is a Mexican soup which comes in red and green varieties. Both versions feature a hearty broth with stewed hominy and chunks of pork or chicken. I got Rancho Bravo’s pozole rojo, which came bright red and steaming with a side of corn tortillas.
The heartiness and heat of pozole make it an ideal fall soup, with its passionate crimson hue ranking it high in terms of presentation. However, the extremely salty broth and the sheen of orange oil floating on the top of Rancho Bravo’s version of pozole rojo left me and my co-tasters feeling dehydrated and dazed— not particularly sexy. Rancho Bravo, with locations in Capitol Hill and Wallingford, is a tasty and affordable option for anyone looking for a quick and filling stew to put meat on their bones against the November chill.

Thinking of taking her swimming on a first date? Don’t, that’s sexist and weird. The only thing you should be swimming in is an extra large pho at Pho Bac.
Last time I went to Pho Bac 10-ish years ago, it was a casual Vietnamese eatery in a building shaped like a big red boat on the east side of the International District. It has since moved across the street and embraced a more Instagrammable aesthetic, with cursive neon wall art and wine menus on those black boards with stick-on white letters. Consistent with the new decor, it is kind of pricey, but the portions are huge. I got a small vegetarian pho and spring rolls to share with my friend, which was more than enough food for us (costing a total of $15).
The vegetarian pho was….decent. The vegetable broth was flavorful and light without being thin, and the rice noodles seemed fresh and weren’t limp to the chopsticks. Huge vegetable chunks— cabbage, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms— floated in the broth. The unevenly cooked crunch of the carrots created bland obstacles to smooth sipping. Soup is often considered an ideal food for chew-challenged people, but if you’re a toothless king, this is not the bowl for you.
The broth was crowned with slivers of crisp roasted garlic, a savory redeeming detail which elevated the soup beyond your average veggie pho.

Vientiane Deli, a grocery on MLK named after the capital city of Laos, is easy to pass by at first glance. The windows are papered with photos from their selection of Thai and Laotian dishes, including a solid range of warming and flavorful soups. Most fall in the $7-10 range for a huge bowl.
We ordered the Khao Piak, which arrived as a large bowl of fragrant chicken soup. Khao Piak translates to “chewy rice strands”, and the thick fresh noodles, made from a blend of rice and tapioca flour, were a highlight– chewy and soft for easy slurpability. The chicken broth was cloudy and hot, with an almost gelatinous texture perfect for soothing a sore throat. The strands of chicken included both light and dark meat, which added gamey depth to the flavor profile, although the soup may have benefitted from more of both meat and noodles. Without hot sauce, the Khao Piak was a little bland, but it was immediately improved with a spoonful of deep red chili oil.
Vientiane’s Khao Piak may not be a “sexy” soup, but the nurturing grandma-energy of the steaming hot broth makes it worth the stop for anyone in need of nourishment, physical or spiritual.