by Erika Miller
January is National Soup Month, which makes sense, considering the first month of the year is typically marked with below-freezing temperatures, snow and slush. What's better than a delicious, hot bowl of soup on a chilly day? A delicious, hot bowl of soup that you don't have to make -- that's what. This January Gut Check will revisit some of our favorite hot soups to help guide your belly through this month-long soup celebration.
On too many occasions, beef stew means a thick mixture of beef chunks and soggy vegetables. Not so at Bahn Mi So #1 - Saigon Gourmet (4071 South Grand Boulevard; 314-353-0545), where hu tieu bo kho, a Vietnamese version of beef stew, is light, flavorful and fragrant.
The menu describes the dish as "Vietnamese beef stew with lemongrass and carrots," but there's much more to it than that. A colorful assortment of carrots, cilantro and scallions float above a sea of clear vermicelli noodles, pearlescent onion and tender slivers of beef. On the side is a plate with basil leaves, bean sprouts and a lime wedge for you to add to your personal taste.
Bahn Mi So's staff recommends spooning two dollops of Hoisin and one dollop of chili sauce into the stew to give it a steady heat and a boost of both sweetness and savor. All the vegetables and herbs in the dish are as fresh as they come, and the bean sprouts provide additional crunch.
Trust us: This is the lightest -- and quite possibly the tastiest -- beef stew you'll ever try.