November 4, 2013 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food: Favorite take-out soups

I'm partial to the thick, chunky Split Pea with Ham soup at Louie's Ham and Corned Beef in Eastern Market — especially when I'm fighting a cold. What's your go-to for take-out soup? (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

Soup is one of those foods I practically forget about in summer, but comes raring back to the forefront of my consciousness when the weather turns chilly, or my throat gets scratchy.

I had a wicked sore throat a couple of weeks back and stopped into Westborn, my favorite deli for soups, twice in two days. After a course of antibiotics drove that bug away, another came to visit, which sent me into the arms of the split pea with ham soup at Louie’s Ham and Corned Beef in Eastern Market three times in three weeks.

Seems I’m not the only one with a go-to take-out soup. My cubicle-mate Leslie (who unfairly blamed me for getting her sick last week, but forgave me enough to accompany me to Louie’s on Friday — and amusingly, did not fight me on calling her unfair here: “It’s your column, you have the right to your opinion,” she said, clearly taking the high road) swears by the chicken-lemon rice soup at Athenian Coney Island in Novi.

There’s just something about soup they hand you hot — plus, sometimes you (or at least I) get a good soup recommendation when out and about that you’d never get elbow-coughing in front of your own microwave. (That said — if you’re a cook-no-matter-how-you-feel type, don’t miss our story on pumpkin soups; lovely and seasonal, as well as a good smooth treat for a sore throat.)

When I was laser-focused on Westborn, I really wanted seafood soup, but they were out by the time I got there on the first day. The second, they had lobster bisque, which I love (a) as a Maine girl who grew up with the stuff and (b) for the positive connection with my mom. She and I had gotten and fawned over this very soup last time she visited, and this time, I called her on the way home because I knew she’d appreciate my purchase (and maybe juuuuuuust a little for her “oh, honey, I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well.” Do you ever stop wanting your mom when you’re sick?)

When I was in the checkout line, the friendly young cashier was chatting with the woman ahead of me about Westborn’s soups – particularly their Mushroom Brie with Madeira Wine. When it was my turn, I told him he captured my attention with his soup commentary. He explained that he actually hates mushrooms, but his sister loves this soup. So once for her birthday he bought a large container of it and brought it to her in Ann Arbor. (This is one reason I LOVE talking food; for just a few minutes, you get to visit even a perfect stranger’s life through their stories.) He ended up tasting the soup and being blown away by it. Now, he says, he gets it whenever they have it.

I told him how much I loved the bisque, but that he made me want to go back and get some of the mushroom.

“You should,” he said. “They only have it once a week or two; we have people who come in just for it. You should definitely try it – just get a small one.” (I hope he gets bonuses for salesmanship.)

I fought the impulse to follow his suggestion all the way out to the car – you already have soup, you need to get home and in bed – but then the devil on the other shoulder piped in: What if you’re never there again when they happen to have it? Besides, you can write about this, and it’d be fun to share with your husband …

… and I took my bedraggled self back to the soup bar to pick up a small serving. I aimed for my friendly cashier’s line, but got waved over by another cashier who was free. Still, he spotted me.

“You got it!” he called over, smiling. I told him he convinced me.

When I got home, I found out it was an excellent recommendation (and my husband, who got the lion’s share, later agreed). The soup was so multifaceted, with the mushroom, cheese and wine flavors. When I called to verify the name so I could keep an eye out for it in the future, the lady I spoke to said I could even call the day ahead, if I know I’m going in; they start the soups at 5 or 6 a.m., but if they know in advance, they might be able to put it on the next day. (Have I mentioned I love Westborn’s customer service? These people don’t know me from Adam, and they’re always like this — super-helpful — with my many questions.)

The bisque, in case you’re wondering, also was just delicious. It’d be a toss-up if they had both the next time I get soup from there, though I see the sentimentality of lobster giving it an unfair advantage — unless, of course, Mom and I have the mushroom together next time she’s here.

What (and where) are your favorite take-out soups? We’d love to hear about ‘em in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Over the next few days, Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!

The Lobster Bisque at Westborn is usually full of seafood, though a recent ... (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)