Slurp it. Stir it. Make waves. Blow on it. Nibble the good stuff and use a straw for the rest. No wonder kids love soup; it’s so fun to eat. And it keeps us warm and cozy, which right now is a very good thing. In Chicago, soup comes in all kinds of varieties. From a Jewish deli with great Matzah balls to an Argyle Street pho haven, here is where to get your fix.
Chef Bill Kim’s original ramen restaurant is full of soups worth guzzling. The namesake ramen is a favorite with braised pork belly, mushrooms and egg. For a pint-sized pot, try the kids chicken noodle soup with thick udon noodles and crispy chicken in a mild broth. Housed in an artsy loft building, the space itself is a feast for the sense — communal tables, funky lighting and all.
NEW: 1542 N. Damen
1400 W. Randolph St.
The colder it is, the cheaper the soup gets at this longtime fave and first of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. Order the “temperature soup,” which is a soup of the day that is priced according to the temperature (you pay the degree in Fahrenheit, as long as it’s above zero). For a real treat, try the ooey-gooey French onion soup, the perfect reward after tackling the Lincoln Park Zoo across the street.
2056 N. Lincoln Park West
Your little ones may be frequent fliers at the summer frozen treat spot, Icebox, but come winter this place is all about the hot stuff. Soupbox is small, with just a few tables, and the focus is on the cauldrons of soup from which you serve yourself. Twelve kinds of soup are served daily and you can try samples of them all. Ladle soup out into a bread bowl for an even tastier treat. The signature lobster bisque is perfect for adventurous eaters, and we guarantee they’ll be too busy scarfing down the broccoli and white cheddar soup that they’ll forget it has veggies. Bonus: You can get it delivered by DoorDash or GrubHub for those souper cold days and they have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
2943 N. Broadway St.
50 E. Chicago Ave.
Near North Side
This café has a storybook of Greek specialties in a bright and open space. Kids love checking out the myriad of colorful pastries that line the bakery when you first walk in. The traditional soup — chicken and rice — is a must-order. The luscious lemon-y broth is studded with chunks of chicken and a smattering of white rice. Order it with the homemade bread and you have yourself the perfect winter lunch.
306 S. Halsted St.
Max and Benny’s
Ask any bubbie and she’ll tell you that matzah ball soup is the cure for just about anything. This homey Jewish deli follows that train of thought and dishes out matzah balls so big your kids may mistake them for giant snowballs. Try the Mish Mosh, a ginormous bowl of chicken soup with a heaping of noodles, rice, kreplach, matzah balls, kasha and carrots. The kids’ menus double as coloring books for added mealtime fun.
461 Waukegan Rd.
Venture to Argyle Street in Uptown for pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup made from beef stock and spices. It’s served in a number of restaurants up and down the strip, but our favorite is this modern, minimal spot. For the first timer, try the Pho Tai, a beef noodle soup full of steak and noodles, and a side plate of Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapeno and lime.
1055 W. Argyle St.
Larsa’s Fine Mediterranean Food
If you find yourself looking for a place to eat after ping-ponging from store to store in Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center, it’s worth the short trek east to try this colorful, family-owned spot. Its lentil soup is made fresh daily and is a traditional (and healthy) favorite. Ask for fresh-from-the-oven pita bread and sop it up.
3724 Dempster St.
And a date night option . . .
If you haven’t tried Frontera Grill’s chicken tortilla soup, you are missing out. Seriously. It will ruin you on all other chicken tortilla soups because no other compares. It’s light and brothy with just the right amount of kick. From the presentation — where it’s brought out in the copper pot and poured over tortilla chips and cheese right in front of you — down to the last slurp, you’ll be begging for more. Be sure if you hit up this favorite date night spot, you start with the soup. Tip: If you ever find yourself delayed at O’Hare, grab a bowl at Tortas Frontera ins Terminal 1, 3 and 5.
445 N. Clark St.
Near North Side
What is your favorite place for soup in Chicago or the suburbs? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Maria Chambers & Samantha Lande