CHIGuide

The Best Places For Soup In Chicago

21 Chicago restaurants where you’ll find some great soup.
The Best Places For Soup In Chicago image

photo credit: Jack Li

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.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jack Li

Vietnamese

West Argyle Historic District

$$$$Perfect For:Literally EveryoneLunch

The bún bò huế from Cafe Hoang in Argyle surrounds you with wafts of fragrant lemongrass, drawing you in like the Pied Piper. This spicy Vietnamese soup has a meaty mix of pork, beef, meatballs, blood tofu, and chewy round noodles waiting to be discovered. Customizing your bowl with accompanying bean sprouts, basil, mint, and lime adds layers of freshness. Add a dash of their very spicy housemade chili sauce for some extra heat.


photo credit: John Ringor

Considering its name, it’s pretty obvious what this counter-service spot in Irving Park focuses on. When it comes to their chicken noodle soup, we’re pretty sure every up-and-coming bowl has a picture of it in their inspiration journal. Chicken Works’ take on the classic is simple. There aren’t any frivolous spices or overpowering ingredients, just flavorful broth, celery, carrots, bowtie pasta, and, of course—tender chunks of chicken. 


If Phở Năm Lúa existed in the 1800s every traveling medicine show would carry a supply of their pho. But unlike Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment, we’re convinced that the soup from this small North Park Vietnamese restaurant is an actual cure-all. Each comforting bowl is beefy with a hint of sweetness, and comes with chewy rice noodles and cuts of meat like flank steak, tendons, and meatballs. The broth is rich and still has a slurpable lightness. Plus the fragrance of star anise and cinnamon is basically aromatherapy. 


Whoever thinks that soup is primarily a solo food hasn’t come face-to-bowl with pork sinigang at Ruby’s in Albany Park. Like many of the other entrees on this Filipino restaurant’s menu, it’s meant to be eaten with rice and shared. This tamarind soup has a pleasantly strong tart flavor that’ll perk you up like a thirsty houseplant finally getting some water. It’s full of juicy pork ribs, eggplant, spinach, and radish, all of which give the soup extra depth and complexity. 


photo credit: Cafe El Tapatio

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A bowl of the Azteca from this Mexican restaurant in Lakeview will make you radiate warmth like a space heater with legs. The blend of chicken broth and smoky chipotle peppers is the ideal balance of savory and spicy, with plenty of heat. It’s covered with gooey chihuahua cheese and the impressively resilient tortilla strips stay crispy even after soaking in the soup.


Samgyetang is stress relief in a bowl, and Ssyal in Albany Park makes an excellent version of this rejuvenating Korean soup. After the first spoonful, you’ll already feel as relaxed and carefree as the cornish hen that's floating peacefully in the white ginseng broth. It’s light, slightly herbal, and pairs perfectly with the nutty brown rice and sweet jujubes stuffed inside of the hen. 


Tomato soup can often be seen as “kid’s food”, especially when it’s accompanied by its best friend, grilled cheese. But this power couple deserves respect, and Blue Door Farm Stand in Lincoln Park recognizes this fact. Every order of the cheddar and swiss sandwich comes fully equipped with a cup of their creamy tomato basil soup. It’s perfect for dunking, but it’s also rich enough to fly solo—feel free to upgrade from a cup to a bowl for a standalone dish.


As the sister restaurant to Wasabi, it’s no surprise that the standard tonkotsu at this small North Center ramen shop is great. But the tantanmen is why we longingly whisper “Menya Goku” into our pillows more often than we’d like to admit. Each bowl comes with thin chewy noodles, bok choy, menma, and umami-packed nikumiso ground pork, all swimming in a pork broth spiced with Sichuan peppercorns. Each full-bodied spoonful has enough tingly spice to melt even the coldest of hearts.


Daisy’s Po Boy is what a pick-me-up looks like in restaurant form. This Hyde Park spot is bright, has as much energy as a night out on Bourbon Street, and serves an incredibly comforting bowl of seafood gumbo. It’s even garnished with a little crab claw beckoning you to leave your problems at the door and just jump right in. After some quality time with the rich broth full of rice, shrimp, and andouille sausage, you’ll be in a much better mood than when you walked in. Get a piece of banana pecan toffee cake for another serotonin boost.


The first time we ate pozole at this small Humboldt Park spot the kitchen noise and shiny tiled walls vanished—the only thing that mattered was Pozoleria San Juan’s soup. They have three types, all of which come with pieces of pork and fluffy hominy—but the smoky rojo variety made with smoky guajillo chiles is our favorite. The whole soup becomes even more robust when topped with avocado, lime juice, and crunchy pieces of salty chicharon. 


Sometimes you just want to eat soup and hide from the world, and there’s no better place to do that than J’s Snack House in the basement food court of Chinatown’s Richland Center. This Chinese stall has a wide variety of potato noodle soups, but get the house special. The spicy broth is savory with plenty of flavor from all the ingredients floating around—vegetables, tofu, fish balls, and quail eggs. But it's the thick and squishy potato noodles that really bring everything together.


If your most recent credit card statement left you numb, restore feeling with some beef noodle soup from Yummy Yummy Noodle in Chinatown. This casual spot has over 30 different types to choose from with toppings like brisket, wontons, fish balls, and tendons—and almost every single bowl is $10 or less. You can pick what type of noodles you want (we like the thin springy egg noodles), and use the chili oil on every table for an extra layer of garlicky spice.


This cozy West Ridge restaurant is one of the best places in the city to hang out and eat Korean BBQ. But if dinner evolves into a soju marathon (a common occurrence here), then it’s worth returning to Woo Chon the next morning for a recovery bowl of yukgaejang. The rich broth has lots of spice from gochugaru and is packed with cuts of thinly sliced beef, green onion, bean sprouts, little strands of beaten egg, and thin chewy potato noodles. When you’re done you’ll be ready to repeat the KBBQ-yukgaejang cycle all over again.


Greek Islands has been around for more than 50 years, so it’s basically a Chicago institution. And this Greektown quinquagenarian is one of the best places in the city for avgolemono. Their take on the classic soup leans creamier than most, but it’s still delicious, balanced by the savory chicken broth and tartness from the lemon. It’s always a good way to kick off a group dinner, but it’s also a great reason to just stop by for a light bite at the bar during lunch.


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—something you should probably get used to. Plus, the space is also dark enough that nobody will be able to see all of the sweat on your forehead after finishing a bowl of their spicy tonkotsu. Or the single tear rolling down your cheek.


When we were much younger, our grandparents taught us important lessons over matzo ball soup. At least we think they did—we weren’t really listening and our memories are slowly becoming less trustworthy. But we do remember how great everything tasted, and the version at Manny’s is just as delicious. It has a flavorful chicken broth and big fluffy matzo balls, and when our future grandchildren ignore us over a bowl of it, we won’t blame them.


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.


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.


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 anyone out of the way who is also eyeing that mid-century bar cart that’s perfect for your apartment.


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.


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