More than a decade ago, Ron Herbinko was a teacher at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, where he taught soups, sauces and stocks. Today, he’s making fresh soups daily as the head chef at Sal’s City Deli, which sits in a space that once served as a Culinary Institute classroom.
“We take a lot of pride, and we take our time,” says Herbinko. “We use nothing but the finest ingredients, nothing but the fresh ingredients every day. We make [soups] not from bases, but from stocks. I was trained by a lot of great chefs.”
To fight the winter chill, customers can order Sal’s chicken and dumpling soup any day of the week. Other varieties include cream of broccoli, gumbo, lobster bisque and beef barley. Herbinko’s favorite is the Manhattan clam chowder, which includes fresh chopped clams, potatoes, celery, onions, tomatoes and peppers.
“Probably my favorite soups to make are the ones with a lot of color,” says Herbinko.
Other unique soups include oxtail, borscht and “pepper pot.” In the hotter months, Sal’s offers vichyssoise, a chilled soup which combines puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock. Herbinko also makes cold melon soups and a strawberry soup topped with chocolate and whipped cream
“I try to get a feel for what people really like depending on the weather,” says Herbinko. “If I’m walking through the dining room and a customer says, ‘Hey Ron, can you make cream potato soup?,’ I’ll do that.”