Editor’s Note: The availability of indoor dining has fluctuated significantly recently in counties in and around the city of Chicago. Please reach out to the restaurant before planning an in-person visit to inquire on procedures or support restaurants by ordering take-out or delivery.
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. (Can you even believe we’ve already seen snow?) 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 and support Chicago restaurants at the same time.
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 senses—communal tables, funky lighting and all.
1542 N. Damen; Wicker Park; Online: urbanbellychicago.com
R.J. Grunts is the very first Lettuce Entertain You creation and holds the honor of having the very first salad bar in America. They only have two soups on the menu: Broccoli Cheddar and Chicken Noodle, but they are both the ultimate comfort foods. And, as a bonus, R.J. Grunts is just steps away from wintery fun at Lincoln Park Zoo.
2056 N. Lincoln Park West; Lincoln Park; Online: rjgruntschicago.com
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, UberEats, Postmates, Caviar or GrubHub for those souper cold days and they have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
2943 N. Broadway St., Lakeview; Online: soupbox.com
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., Greektown; Online: artopolischicago.com
photo: April W. via Yelp
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., Northbrook; Online: maxandbennys.com
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., Uptown; Online: haiyenrestaurant.com
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., Skokie; Online: larsasmediterranean.com
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 very few compare. 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 in Terminals 1, 3 and 5.
445 N. Clark St., Near North Side; Online: rickbayless.com
— Maria Chambers & Samantha Lande