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Weathering Wine Country Winter with Spectacular Soups

MY China beef soup

M.Y. China beef hand pulled noodle soup

Baby, it's cold outside! This is going to be an extra chilly New Year, all across Wine Country, and many of us are planning a late night celebrating. So bundle up tight, and plan a hearty, hot filling meal before – plus the day after – your festivities.

Soup is one of the most universal satisfiers, and it’s a great opportunity for chefs to shine, since recipes usually change daily, based on what’s freshest of the season. Here are some wonderful places to warm up your soul and stomach.

Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, Sonoma: Nestled within The Lodge at Sonoma, this charming retreat wows with farm-to-table fare, and inventive creations. You never knew how good a simple root vegetable could be, until you’ve had this cream of cauliflower soup, or the equally remarkable roast butternut squash soup studded with candied bacon, crème fraiche and chives.

Poggio Trattoria, Sausalito: You may never have heard of ribollita, but it’s well worth seeking out. Usually, it’s a hearty, soupy Tuscan stew made with bread, cannellini beans and vegetables. Yet chef Peter McNee adds his special twist to the classic savory soup by presenting the dish in a solid version that is thick, soft, and full of their garden fresh kale, harvested from the restaurant’s steeply terraced plot overlooking the San Francisco skyline.

Williams-Sonoma has a nexcellent recipe for lentil soup

Williams-Sonoma has a nexcellent recipe for lentil soup

Carneros Inn, Napa: Elegance and rustic farm chic make a delicious fashion statement, with delectable soups like bouillabaisse, packed with shellfish and rockfish decorated in fennel, basil buds and crushed peppers.

Rickey’s Restaurant, Novato: Sonoma County is known world-wide for its exquisite salmon, and this classic American eatery inside Inn Marin fashions it into a sumptuous bisque, silky and meaty at the same time.

Copita Tequileria, Sausalito: On Thursdays, the chef brews up a big, steaming pot of chicken pozole, brimming with hominy in a recipe from culinary celebrity Joanne Weir. Tortilla soup is superb, as well, stocked with roasted chicken, zucchini, carrots, avocado, cotija cheese and crunchy tortilla strips For a good match, indulge in a specialty tequila cocktail.

Alioto’s, San Francisco: This shrine to seafood in Fisherman’s Wharf has been legendary for its cooking since 1925. Some specialties include local Dungeness crab bisque capped in housemade puff pastry, or creamy rich New England style clam chowder served in a fresh-baked sourdough bread bowl.

The Grove, San Francisco: The Grove Fillmore opened in 2002, and was so popular that The Grove Yerba Buena opened in 2010, followed by The Grove Hayes in 2011. Part of the draw is the signature French onion soup capped in gooey Gruyere, the spicy chicken lime tortilla soup, and robust tomato-basil soup.

M.Y. China, Rohnert Park and San Francisco: Chinese chef Martin Yan is a master of soup, putting oodles of love into his noodles and brilliance in his broth. One of the finest is the savory beef hand pulled noodle soup with slow simmered rib eye, baby bok choy and star anise. Other delights include Hot & Sour soup stocked with silken tofu and wild seasonal mushrooms, Westlake wonton soup brimming with shrimp, pork and egg white, and Vegetarian Longevity noodle soup brimming with wild seasonal mushrooms and braised tofu.

Blue Mermaid chowder

Blue Mermaid chowder

Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar, San Francisco: Housed in the historic Haslett Warehouse along with the Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf, the Blue Mermaid is named after the exquisitely beautiful creature that is said to call the waters of San Francisco Bay her home. Really? Has anyone seen a mermaid here? We don’t care, since all our attention is on the Dungeness crab and corn chowder. Chowders are a specialty, here, actually, in recipes like New England clam, Manhattan clam, mussel and sausage soup, shrimp and red pepper, and California style, all served in bread bowls. Can’t decide? Try the trio sampler.

Tip: Soup does your body good, and so does not stressing over traffic. For all your adventures through 2015, treat yourself to the convenience of a Pure Luxury limo or Town Car.

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