As the weather thaws, spring soups pop up on menus around the country.

vegetable soup


THE SPOT: The elegant Simon Pearce Restaurant (1760 Quechee Main St., 802-295-1470) is housed in a mill with windows that overlook the Ottauquechee River. The owner's handmade pottery and glassware adorn the table, and scraps are composted (this is eco-friendly Vermont, after all). Chef Joshua Duda even arrives in a car powered by the restaurant's recycled canola oil.  

THE SPECS: The carrot-ginger soup ($5 for a cup), a family recipe, is made of carrots, gingerroot, onions, butter and chicken broth. It tastes even better with a slice of fresh-baked brown bread. 


THE SPOT:Chef Scott Turley develops all the meals at the Spencer Grill at Grinnell College (1115 Eighth Ave., 641-269-3665), named best school cafeteria in the country. But he's not just spoiling students with his luscious soups: Everyone is welcome.  

THE SPECS: The morel-and-gouda bisque ($2.50 for a cup) -- made of locally foraged mushrooms and smoked Wisconsin cheese -- is served only during the brief morel season, which lasts from late April to early May. Students and faculty clamor for it after the long winter. 


THE SPOT: La Madeleine (3072 Mockingbird Lane, 214-696-0800) is a casual bistro opened 26 years ago in Dallas by Patrick Leon Esquerré, who grew up in France's Loire Valley; there are now 60 locations throughout the South.  

THE SPECS: The official recipe for their tomato-basil soup ($3.50 for a cup) remains a secret, but we can confirm that it includes tomatoes, basil, milk and, in keeping with its French country roots, a fair amount of heavy cream and butter. It's so popular that it's now sold in to-go jars ($9 for a large). 


THE SPOT: Movie buffs make a pilgrimage to Copley's on Palm Canyon (621 North Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-9555) because it's Cary Grant's former estate, but regulars like it because of the garden-party atmosphere and the tasty, tropical-inspired food.  

THE SPECS: The chilled asparagus-and-sweet pea broth ($10 for a bowl), available only in the spring and summer, is a blend of asparagus and sweet peas, accompanied by flash-fried Maine lobster. Sign up for chef and co-owner Andrew Manion Copley's cooking class and you can learn how to make it!


*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in April 2010.