Where To Go When You Just Want Some Soup
13 Chicago restaurants where you’ll find some great soup.
Maybe your building’s water heater broke and your landlord’s phone keeps going straight to voicemail. Or your sinuses are so blocked that you’ve spent hours Googling home remedies involving baking soda, Neti pots, and handstands. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just need some soup. It won’t solve all of your problems, but it’ll definitely make you feel at least a little bit better. These are the 13 best places in Chicago to get some.
High Five Ramen
There are three things you need after getting broken up with over text: a dark room, time alone, and some warm soup. High Five Ramen, the ramen shop underneath Green Street can give you all three. It only has a handful of seats so it’s perfect for dining solo, which is something you should probably get used to. Plus, the spicy tonkotsu ramen is our favorite in the city, and it’s dark enough that nobody will be able to see the single tear rolling down your cheek. Or, all the broth on your shirt.
Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen
When we were much younger, our grandparents taught us important lessons over matzo ball soup. At least we think they did since we weren’t really listening. But we do remember how great everything tasted, and the version at Manny’s is just as delicious. It has a rich chicken broth and big fluffy matzo balls, and when our future grandchildren ignore us over a bowl of it, we won’t blame them.
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Ordering the delicious French onion soup at Le Bouchon in Bucktown is basically just a socially acceptable excuse to eat a bowl of cheese. Sure, you’re sitting in a charming little bistro and it’s got a fancy French name. And yes, the soup has a rich beef broth and tender onions too - but it also has enough melted gruyere to feed a village outside of Bordeaux.
5 Rabanitos is a casual spot in Pilsen that has some of the best Mexican food in the city, from tacos and tortas to their cinnamon bread pudding. This includes the pork pozole, which has a green mole broth, pork rinds, and avocado. If you’re having a bad day, an order of this and the bread pudding is a stronger combination than Jordan and Pippen on the ’96 Bulls.
J.J. Thai Street Food
The guay tiew nam sood borann at J.J. Thai in West Town has charred pork, chicken, and a sweet and sour broth, and we’re convinced it’s way better for a cold than chicken noodle soup. So if you’ve gone through three boxes of tissues and half a package of Mucinex, order this. At the very least, all of the flavors are bold enough that you’ll still be able to taste everything even when you’re so stuffed up you can’t breathe.
If you want soup but you’re worried it won’t fill you up, order the hudut baruru tikini at Garifuna Flava in Marquette Park. It’s a huge serving of sweet and sour cabbage stew with a massive piece of kingfish that barely fits in the bowl. And if that isn’t enough, it even comes with a mound of mashed plantains that softens into a dumpling-like bite when it’s dipped in the broth.
Just like Saturday Night Live, Uptown’s Tank Noodle is an icon that got its start in the 70s. But instead of increasingly bad sketch comedy, they have consistently delicious pho. Order the combination bowl - it has a savory beef bone broth with brisket, flank steak, tendon, tripe, and meatballs. And unlike SNL, it’s definitely not past its prime.
Taste of Lebanon
You’ll find an almost obnoxious amount of charm in Andersonville, thanks to all the cute boutiques and antique stores. And if browsing old vinyl and trying on used wedding dresses has made you want something warm and homey, go to Taste of Lebanon. This small cash-only spot has an excellent, peppery lentil soup. Plus, it has enough protein to help you push any old couples out of the way who are looking at the mid-century bar cart that’s perfect for your apartment.
Immm Rice & Beyond
Immm is a BYOB place in Uptown with a long chalkboard full of excellent Thai food options (like papaya salad and boat noodles). But one of the best dishes here is their tom kha. It’s a bright coconut soup that has a great balance of sweet and savory, and it'll make you feel better even if you had a dentist appointment and jury duty on the same day.
Strings Ramen Shop
We’re not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t do the spicy “Monster Hell Ramen” challenge at Strings in Chinatown - that’s between you and your health insurance provider. But we can tell you that Strings is a great place for ramen no matter your spice tolerance or what type of broth you prefer. They have shoyu, shio, miso, and tonkotsu, along with toppings we don’t see as often, like turkey, crab meat, and beef tongue.
Lonesome Rose in Logan Square looks like a Southern California Ikea filled with margaritas and lots of Tex-Mex food. So if you need something warm, but want to feel far away from Chicago winter, come here and order the chicken tortilla soup. It’s perfectly salty, limey, and has a nice crunch from all the tortilla strips. Then, once you realize that the blizzard outside isn’t going away anytime soon, grab a few drinks at their basement bar Golden Teardrops.
Virtue is a Southern restaurant in Hyde Park that’s more comforting than a day spa full of emotional support animals. And their gumbo - made with a thick broth, rice, andouille sausage, and chicken - is the most soothing thing on the menu. We’ve considered just sticking our faces into the bowl to maximize efficiency, but it’s a very nice restaurant and we don’t want to be asked to leave.
Maybe you’re not crazy about the inherent brothiness of soup. If that’s the case, 1) congratulations on making it all the way to the end of this guide, and 2) go to Miss Saigon in Uptown for their brothless pho. It’s a big bowl of thin rice noodles and crispy bone-in chicken, and we get just as much joy out of eating it as the soupy version. They do offer broth on the side, so you can either pour it on top of the noodles or just sit there and scowl at it.