As a Maryland bed and breakfast, we obviously focus most of our culinary attention on breakfast foods and sweet treats. So it’s fun and interesting for us when we do a small event that includes dinner. We get to come up with different menus and they almost always include a soup. We love soups! In the dead of winter, there is nothing better than a meal of hot soup, fresh salad and warm bread (especially if the bread comes from Evergrain, but that’s a topic for another post!).
For guests visiting in the winter, the option of staying in to eat, perhaps in front of a fire, can be quite alluring. You don’t have to be part of a large group or event either. We’ve got that covered.
Just a little over a mile from the inn you will find Herb’s Soup and Such, a tiny little take out place that serves fabulous food, and always 3 or 4 soups to choose from. They’re only open Monday through Friday, and mainly for lunch, but each Friday they stay open until 7pm and offer dinners to go. While you’re out and about in Chestertown, why not stop by Herb’s and put an order in, then pick it up on the way back to the inn? We’ll even lend you some bowls and spoons! Not only is the food good, but they feature organic beef, nitrate free bacon, and home baked breads and desserts. You’ll be eating local food made by local people!
If staying in isn’t your thing, there are plenty of choices for eating out. For a small town like Chestertown, it’s quite a coup to have as many very good restaurants as we do. Often our guests seem a little surprised at just how good they are… One thing we do lack, however, is a variety of ethnic restaurants. Yes, there is a small Chinese place and a Mexican restaurant, both of which are fine. But that’s it. No Indian, no Thai, no tapas bar, you get the idea. If you are really in the mood for something specific, you’re going to have to take a drive: maybe to Easton, which is about 45 minutes from the Brampton , or even over the Bay Bridge to Annapolis, an hour away.
That is, until Nhu Vu opened up in Middletown, Delaware. Only a 30 minute drive from our Maryland Inn, this Vietnamese restaurant specializes in Pho soups (pronounced “fuh”), but has a menu of familiar appetizers, entrees and desserts, plus a full bar.
Shown in the picture, Pho is a soup typically made from clear beef broth, rice noodles and differing cuts of beef. It can of course also be made with chicken , seafood or vegetable broths. Accompaniments include fresh herbs, fresh lime juice, bean sprouts, scallions and sauces like fish sauce, chili paste or hoisin sauce. The eater mixes in the garnishes of his or her choice just before eating. And it comes in a really big bowl. It is the perfect comfort food in the winter, or anytime. And, if you’re under the weather, this is the thing to eat.
These are 2 of our favorite places to have a really great bowl of soup, and then order a quart to go!!
Now that you’re in the mood for soup, here is a recipe for one of our favorites; it’s delicious, a crowd pleaser, and really simple to prepare. Serves about 8.
Gingered Carrot Soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cups (maybe more) vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
4 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
cinnamon to taste
1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat.
2. Add onion and ginger and cook until onion is translucent, 5-8 minutes.
3. Add stock and carrots, lower heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. If you don’t have one of those gadgets, fear not. Working in batches, carefully puree in a blender or food processor and return to pot.
5. Add orange juice and half and half. Simmer for 5 minutes more.
6. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon if desired.
7. Ladle into warmed soup bowls.
8. Garnish with any of the following: grated carrot, tiny slivers of ginger, chopped scallions, greek yogurt, croutons, fresh herbs.