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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: January 15, 2015

Dining Guide: 5 Portland restaurants for a great bowl of soup

Creamy or brothy, brimming with noodles, vegetables, meat or seafood — a steaming hot bowl of soup is what we crave when the winter winds blow. Find a world of soups at these local restaurants.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

For full listings and more restaurants, see our searchable Restaurant & Bar Guide.

Saigon

Beef pho at Saigon. Press Herald file photo

Beef pho at Saigon. Press Herald file photo

795 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-874-6666 | No website | $$
The menu here features a full gamut of Vietnamese dishes — including several soups — but you’ll want to go for the superb pho, rice noodles and meat in a rich broth. Pho tai – with rare beef – is the classic version; at Saigon it comes with a side plate of crunchy bean sprouts, basil leaves, hot peppers and lime wedges to add to the aromatic broth.

Pai Men Miyake

Gemma Hancock serves ramen at Pai Men Miyake. Press Herald file photo

Gemma Hancock serves ramen at Pai Men Miyake. Press Herald file photo

188 State St., Portland | 207-541-9204 | miyakerestaurants.com/pai-men-miyake | $$
A happy crowd of diners regularly inhabits this modern, attractive space, with exposed brick, handsome wood details and artfully arranged metalwork swooping from the ceiling. Many of them are bowing over steaming, earthenware bowls of Japanese noodle soups, rich with pork belly and soft-cooked eggs. Vegetarian versions are also available.

Ribollita

Ribollita on Middle Street. Press Herald file photo

Ribollita on Middle Street. Press Herald file photo

41 Middle St., Portland | 207-774-2972 | ribollitamaine.com | $$$
This rustic, romantic restaurant is named for the classic Tuscan bread and vegetable soup – especially comforting on a cold night. The regular menu also includes tortellini in brodo – simple and soothing cheese filled pasta in rich chicken broth. Other standouts include the handmade pasta, especially the gnocchi.

J’s Oyster

J's Oyster on Portland's waterfront. Press Herald file photo

J’s Oyster on Portland’s waterfront. Press Herald file photo

5 Portland Pier, Portland | 207-772-4828 | No website | $$
For chowder, it doesn’t get much better than J’s, a much-loved institution on the Portland waterfront. The clam and fish chowders are loaded with fresh seafood and perfectly seasoned; the lobster stew is generously studded with lobster, and has just the right amount of sherry and creamy richness, without being overly thick. And, as you might expect, the oyster stew is also first-rate.

Duckfat

The dining room at Duckfat. Press Herald file photo

The dining room at Duckfat. Press Herald file photo

43 Middle St, Portland | 207-774-8080 | duckfat.com | $$
The Belgian fries fried in duck fat put this Portland landmark on the map, but the soups are also a fan favorite. Creamy tomato fennel with grilled cheese croutons is always on the menu, and there’s always at least one more flavorful choice, such as celeriac shiitake with truffle oil or potato cheddar with bacon and scallions.

Key to prices

The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up

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