I want to begin by highlighting my absolute favorite restaurant in Bloomington. The place is DARN GOOD SOUP, located directly downtown on the west side of the court house at 107 N. College Ave., open daily from 11 am to 7:30 pm.
I first ate at this place in March 2011, the week that it opened. I had seen the signs for a couple months and knew that any place claiming to be darn good was worth a try. The restaurant is very small, containing a few booths and then a serving counter at the back. On the walls are a variety of soup related artwork. The dining experience is very simple, walk to the counter and pick from 10-12 soups that are written on a chalkboard. The soup is then ladled into a Styrofoam cup and served on a plastic tray with a complimentary piece of white or multi-grain bread. The experience is very much like the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld, except that Darn Good Soup has more atmosphere, the owner is far friendlier, and I can only imagine that the soups are even better.
From my first bite I was in love. My first soup experience was the beef bourguignon, and it was incredible. The beef was tender and well cooked, there was a generous amount of mushrooms, and the flavors were marvelous. My friend Jorge was also there and went with the potato leek soup, it was simple but well seasoned and satisfying. We proceeded to come back for the next five days bringing everyone we knew.
The best thing about Darn Good Soup is that no two days are the same. Each day Nels, the owner and chef, has a selection of 10-12 soups with some vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. All soups are made from scratch with fresh ingredients. Any given soup lasts for 3-4 days before it rotates off the menu and is replaced by something new. What is amazing is that even after nine months of operation Nels continues to come out with new soups every couple weeks or sooner. By my count I have tried over 50!! different soups since it opened. These soups range from traditional ones like chili, minestrone, broccoli cheddar, and chicken tortilla to more unique items like WEST AFRICAN CHICKEN PEANUT, BORSCHT, BAKSO (an Indonesian soup), CAULIFLOWER CURRY, and many more.
SOME PERSONAL FAVORITE SOUPS: (But all are excellent, and I may revisit this list in future posts)
WEST AFRICAN CHICKEN PEANUT: Very rich stew filled with peanut putter, some spices, green pepper I think, sweet potato, okra, and chicken. An outstanding soup.
YELLOW SQUASH and SHRIMP BISQUE: One of my absolute favorites, packed full of shrimp and well complimented by a creamy yellow squash puree.
BORSCHT: I have not tasted another borscht to compare it too, but this soup is outstanding. Full of beets and beef, and served with sour cream this is an excellent winter soup. According to my friend Manny, this would be his last meal if he was ever on death row.
GREENIE BEANIE WEENIE: Much better then the name sounds. Kale, andouille sausage, beans, very flavorful.
TRIPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT: roasted eggplant, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, no more needs to be said.
TWICE BAKED POTATO SOUP: Its a liquid baked potato. cheese, sour cream, chive, bacon, pepper, a very hardy soup.
THE BEST CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP EVER: that is the actual name of the soup, but it is an accurate title, trust me.
Other Favorites: Sausage and Pepper, Lamb and Barley stew, Posole, Keilbasa and cabbage, Hot and Sour chicken, and many, many more
I have never experienced a soup that was not at least good, and many have been absolutely brilliant. Nels is constantly looking for new ideas and even old standards are still changing as he tweaks the recipe. So each dining experience is truly unique. In addition to the outstanding soup, he also bakes his own fresh bread (both the white and multigrain are excellent and hold up well for dipping), bakes fresh cookies, and makes his own salad dressing to go with side salads that are available to order. And all this for very low prices. A 12 oz serving of any soup can be had for under $6 including tax.
While I have always enjoyed soup, I had never experienced it quite like this until I came to Darn Good Soup. This is the one restaurant I have ever encountered that I could actually eat at every single day and not get tired. This will be the last meal I eat before I ever leave Bloomington. This is a must eat for anyone within a reasonable distance of Bloomington, Indiana. I could keep going on about this place and the soup for a long time but I will try to stop the rambling.
To Summarize: OUTSTANDING FOOD, FUN ATMOSPHERE, OUTSTANDING OWNER (I recommend chatting with Nels, he is very personable and passionate about his work).
GO HERE IMMEDIATELY and then let me know if its as good as advertised.
DAILY SOUP LIST CAN BE FOUND AT: