Dollar-Wise Gourmet: Five Under $5: Satisfying Soups


Soup is a great way to warm up—and fill up—without breaking the bank. After slurping my way around town, here are five soups I especially enjoyed sinking my spoon into.


The Place: Azul Mexican Food & Tequila Bar 1050 20th St.
The Soup: Tortilla
The Price: $3.50 for a generous cup
The 411: Full-bodied red broth with fiery heat, topped with skinny, crunchy tortilla strips and fresh avocado slices
The Verdict: Complex flavors and textures make for an unusually satisfying soup.
Word Up: Hit Azul’s excellent chips and salsa bar—for free— and you’ve got a meal.

The Place: Cafe Europa 1537 Howe Ave. (near Arden Way)
The Soup: Lentil
The Price: $3.50 for a surprisingly large bowl
The 411: Lusciously thick with beans and loaded with tomato-y, garlicky flavor
The Verdict: A surprise winner from a small Greek cafe tucked away in a strip mall.
Word Up: A buck buys you a side of pita bread. Also on the menu: avgolemono.

The Place: Karabas Café 211 Lathrop Way (near Commerce Circle)
The Soup: Meatball
The Price: $4.99 for a deep bowl, plus bread
The 411: Hearty and homespun, with potatoes, onions, carrots and a magnificent meatball plopped in the middle
The Verdict: An intoxicating broth, heavily peppered and spiked with fresh cilan- tro, is the key to this amazing soup.
Word Up: The cafe is hidden in a business park, but once you’ve arrived, it’s like visiting Grandma’s house. The borscht also is the bomb.

The Place: La Bonne Soupe Café 920 Eighth St.
The Soup: Porcini mushroom
The Price: $4 for a nice-size serving; add $1.50 for a cute mini- loaf of sourdough
The 411: Super creamy and rich, with intense mushroom flavor
The Verdict: I could eat it daily. What more is there to say?
Word Up: This tiny, charming French cafe typically serves an eclec- tic mix of seven soups daily. Come early: It’s popular.

The Place: Star Ginger Asian Grill & Noodle Bar 3101 Folsom Blvd.
The Soup: Spicy Thai chicken
The Price: $4.95 for a good-size bowl
The 411: A milky coconut bath of a soup, with rice, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemon grass and a little kick from the chilies
The Verdict: Delightfully different, with an artful balance of spicy, salty and sweet
Word Up: You can also get pho and other noodle soups here, but it’ll cost you a few bucks more.