Growing up, Saturdays during the winter generally meant two things – hours of playing in the snow (after our chores were done) and a bowl of piping hot soup for lunch to warm us up. Sometimes it was tomato or chicken noodle soup casually poured from a can, but more often, it was a big ‘ole batch of soup bubbling on the stove. It didn’t matter what kind it was, Mom assured us we would love her soup and she was usually right.

These days, I still love to play in the snow though my days of doing somersaults down the tromped down hills is long past. And I still go to soup as my warm-me-up meal no matter what I’ve been doing. My tastes, however, have moved away from those canned brands (though they definitely work in a pinch) to freshly made pots of all blends and flavors.

After hitting the cross country or snowshoe trails myself, or watching my kids tackle the downhill slopes that I’m no good at, I have some recommendations for yummy soups to share with those of you who may come to play this winter in the Petoskey Area.

Stafford’s Seafood Chowder – stuffed with scallops, clams and shrimp, this soup has been perfected by Chef Fred in the Stafford’s Hospitality commissary where it is then distributed to The Pier in Harbor Springs, The Perry and The Bay View Inn in Petoskey. That means no matter which location you go to, when you dig in to all that deliciousness it will taste just as good as you remember from your visit at the last Stafford’s restaurant.

Far from the watered down tomato puree that you may get in some places, Lake Street Market in Boyne City serves up a cream of tomato soup that fills your spoon and pleases your palette. You can actually see the tomato pieces and taste the difference from soups made with water instead of milk. Paired with one of the market’s creatively delicious hot sandwiches – or just enjoyed with crackers – this soup is a treat on a blustery day.

So, I know it’s a different name, but chili is still soup, right? I hesitated when I heard “cactus” chili, but one taste and I was sold on this filling bowl of goodness sold at Parkside Deli in downtown Petoskey. And yes, there really IS cactus in cactus chili – it adds a touch of sweetness. Check it out and order it “loaded” so you don’t miss out on the cheese, sour cream and onion; it’s a totally indulgent experience for your taste buds. 

Toski Sands, perfectly situated between Petoskey and Harbor Springs, has a champagne cream of mushroom soup that may have you wanting to lick the bowl. Super creamy and chock full of button mushrooms, this soup is so good that it’s on the menu every day along with chili and chicken noodle.  

No good soup list would be complete without Roast and Toast. This little place in downtown Petoskey has a huge rotation of different soup recipes, so there truly is something for everyone. Vegetarian, gluten free, vegan – you name it – there’s a perfect homemade soup for you, whether it’s potato blue cheese, lemony chicken, or any of the other nearly 140 choices. Want to make yourself or another soup lover really happy? Buy the combo thermal soup container and a gift card to go along with it – how SoupEr!    

There are certainly other fantastic soups to choose from in our local restaurants and delis, but these are some of my top picks (as well as the lobster bisque at Cormack’s, the tortilla soup at Red Mesa Grill in Boyne City, the French onion soup at Odawa Casino’s Sage . . .) I have to stop! Whether you’re coming to the Petoskey Area to downhill or cross country ski, snowshoe or fat tire bike, or just for a change of scenery, why not warm up with cup or a bowl of soup – it may be as good as your mom used to make.

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About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.