Three great soups for a snowy day

It may have been 80 degrees on Monday, but after six inches of snow, Denver's warm fall is over -- temporarily, at least. And when the weather's like this, there are few things we want to do more than cozy up in the corner of some warm restaurant with an awesome bowl of soup (and maybe a glass of wine or a beer).

If you're also craving a hot, hearty meal, here are three of our favorite soup standbys that always manage to stave off the chills.

French onion soup at A' Côté Bar à Absinthe The tiny space billed as an absinthe bar next door to Z Cuisine is one of the snuggest spots in town. When the temperature drops, we're always tempted to drop in for a glass of wine and great onion soup, a traditional version of the hearty, ultra-savory classic, covered with a thick layer of croutons and a torched topping of gruyere. And by the time we're done with your soup, a table might have opened up at Z Cuisine -- where we can order cassoulet, the dense stew of beans, sausage and pork that's the ultimate cold weather food. Tomato soup at The Kitchen This Boulder restaurant makes some of the best tomato soup we've ever had. The tangy blend is creamy but not oppressively so, sprinkled with salt, drizzled with olive oil and warming all the way down the esophagus; we like it best with grilled bread on the side. There are now three locations that serve the stuff, but on a snowy evening, our favorite spot to nab is the table next to the fireplace at The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Beef noodle soup at Lao Wang Noodle House Nothing fends off the cold like spice that makes you sweat, so on a chilly night we often head to Lao Wang Noodle House, where we'll order traditional Taiwanese beef noodle soup: tender beef and fat noodles bathed in a deep, rich broth laced with as much five-spice as we can handle. The heat builds, and by the end of the meal, we're definitely fortified against the weather -- sometimes to the point of needing a beer to put out the fire.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk