The Best Chicken Soup in Town
by Kaylynn O’Curran
We all know what chicken soup is. Made with chicken broth and chunks of chicken, sometimes noodles, carrots, rice, or celery. Soup itself is thought to be as old as the history of cooking itself, as it is easy to digest and you can put just about anything in it. It is said that the Greeks created the broth and chicken concoction and used it to help cure most illnesses. As far as I am concerned, the best chicken soups I have tasted were found at Mexican restaurants. In Mexico, soup has been a dish served before each meal since colonial times. It was used to persuade people to eat more (though in reality it made them eat less). But north of the Mexican border, eating soup before a meal isn’t very common. More prevalent is eating soup as the main meal.
As San Diego is on the border, it receives heavy influence from Mexican culture. With that influence comes some of the best Mexican food seen in the United States, which is where Lourdes comes in: started in 1988 in Escondido, the restaurant was named after the owner’s wife. Lourdes created the soup from a family recipe but “Americanized” it, keeping the American part a secret. The shop has maintained a cult following, including a man in Colorado who requests gallons to be shipped every 6 months. The restaurant has since expanded to Cardiff and another location in Escondido.
Growing up in Escondido, I started going to the original location in 2005, and ever since, I have not gone more than a month without eating this soup, sometimes eating it two times a day. It does not matter if it is 90 degrees out or 55; people will still be lining up out the door to get a taste. When I moved to Solana Beach, Lourdes happened to open their Cardiff restaurant. This for me was the most exciting coincidence and meant I could continue my relationship with this fantastic chicken and rice soup. Now, I know most people who haven’t tried this soup would say that this is very dramatic and odd, but I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful this soup is. I mean, of course I am biased and have a love for cilantro, of which the soup has a surplus, but I have tried others and have not yet found something comparable. Fidel’s, residing in Solana Beach, has a very delicious soup but is not nearly as convenient. This is a sit down restaurant with waiters and all. Lourdes, however, is a simple taco shop, and the convenience contributes to the image. Another comparable soup is found in Encinitas at Jorge’s, also a walk in taco shop. I would say that this soup is good, but it is just missing something. Not to mention it’s a little too sweet and has chunks of tomatoes floating about the broth—I strongly dislike tomatoes. But regardless of the tomatoes, Jorge’s just isn’t as good.
The slogan of Lourdes is “the best soup in town” and I can attest to that bold statement. I just hope you will give them the time to see if you also agree. Who knows—you might even ask them to ship gallons of it to your home.