A steaming-hot bowl of soup accompanied by a generous hunk of crusty baguette for $4.97 is a soothing, stick-to-your-ribs repast anytime.
When it’s served in a cute neighborhood cafe with a worn checkerboard linoleum floor and glass cases full of buttery French pastries, it’s totally worth driving across the river into old downtown North Kansas City to get it. But get there early, especially on blustery days. The lunch crowd starts lining up shortly after 11 a.m., and it stays busy until closing time at 2 p.m.
Word has gotten out that Le Monde Bakery is one of the last of a vanishing species: A casual, locally owned breakfast and lunch spot where everything is made from scratch, from the bread for an array of classic sandwiches to soups to extraordinary spring rolls (Wednesday through Friday only) made by Xuan Le. Le, who goes by Julie, also makes the soups, which vary slightly from day to day.
The most popular soup, which is offered most days, is the chicken curry ($4.97). The large bowl of perfume-y, coconut-milk-based soup is a rich pumpkin orange with droplets of red chili oil dotting the surface. Large chunks of potatoes and carrots and juicy bites of chicken are a mild counter to the smoldering heat of the curried broth. It will tide you over nicely until dinner.
And yet, an unscientific visual survey of other tables on a recent visit suggests that it is nearly impossible to get soup or a sandwich without ordering a fat, flaky pastry “for later.” The croissants, classic or filled with raspberry, apple or chocolate, are lighter than air and heavenly.