Hearty soups offer comfort in a bowl at Café Touche, Lindy's Gertie's

January 17, 2014 (CHICAGO)

You could opt for Polish bigos, or hunter's stew, in just about any Polish restaurant, or even a giant bowl of pho, the classic Vietnamese beef noodle soup. But for something truly warm and affordable, these two additions are certainly respectable.

Despite his last name, Joe Calabrese knows his way around a French menu, which is why he created Edison Park's Café Touché, as a way to bring bistro fare to an area littered with Italian and Mexican joints.

"I worked with Ambria for three or four years, so a lot of my training came out of French kitchens. And I also worked at Un Gran Café which is now Mon Ami Gabi for a couple years," said Joe Calabrese, owner of Café Touché.

As a result, his French onion soup is warm, gooey perfection.

"We cook our onions for about two and half hours and really caramelize 'em and really turn 'em into a marmalade and get all the sugar and extraction of flavors out of the onions," he said.

Sherry vinegar and fresh thyme are added, along with flour, to thicken it, plus homemade beef and chicken stock; a sachet of bay leaves, peppercorns and parsley steeps as well. When an order comes in, bowls are topped with toast and a few slices of gruyere cheese, plus parmesan, then get placed under a broiler.

"I don't think there's any skimping on any ingredients with French Onion Soup; all the flavors really come out in every bite that you taste. Great winter dish," he said.

Another great winter dish: chili. With beans or without; with macaroni or without, they've been making the same great recipe for decades at Lindy's Gertie's on the South and Southwest Sides.

"Well biggest thing is the spice mix. The spices are super-secret, top-quality ingredients; even I don't know what's in it when I make it here for people. They bring me the spice mix," said owner Richard Wierenga.

You decide on cheese and chopped white onions. Either way, this time of year all of their South and Southwest Side locations are cranking out steaming cups and bowls of warmth.

"We go through probably about 4 or 500 hundreds pounds of chili a week out of this location," he said.

Café Touche
6731 N. Northwest Hwy
(773) 775-0909

Lindy's Gertie's (9 locations, but this is the original)
3685 S. Archer

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