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A white bowl of matzo ball soup covered with thin slices of radish and turnip
Rye takes a fresh approach to matzo ball soup in West Loop.
Neil Burger/Rye Deli & Drink

20 Hot & Delicious Soups That Beat the Chicago Cold

'Tis the season to stay toasty

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Rye takes a fresh approach to matzo ball soup in West Loop.
| Neil Burger/Rye Deli & Drink

When Chicagoans can't feel their faces due to the frigid temps, there’s arguably no better remedy than a cup or bowl of soup. From rich and filling vegetarian chili to a modern spin on matzo ball soup, the city’s restaurants tout a wide variety of belly-warming options to keep the bitter winds at bay. Here’s where to find the city’s best broths.

Note: Ramen and pho were excluded and place in its own categories.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Pho 5 Lua

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Pho is delicious year-round but it’s essential when the temperatures dip. One of the best bowls is found at Pho 5 Lua on the northwest side, far from Argyle Street. The Vietnamese staple cures any ailment (or hangover) with an intense beef broth and add-ins like rice noodles, brisket, tendon, tripe, meatballs, bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, and more.

Big Jones

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The signature Gumbo Ya-Ya at Paul Fehribach’s acclaimed Southern restaurant is packed with Amish chicken, andouille sausage, and buttered Arkansas rice. The Cajun dish can be enjoyed as either a starter or a full meal, and is available by the pint or quart.

Taste of Lebanon

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This Andersonville hole-in-the-wall offers tasty Lebanese food at wallet-friendly prices. Made fresh, the hearty lentil soup is a nice addition to a fall or winter meal.

Pick Me Up Cafe

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This venerable vegan- and vegetarian-friendly spot has fully settled into new digs after relocating to Uptown in April 2020. The neighborhood may have changed, but fans can rest assured that its popular meat-free chili is as heartwarming as ever.

Han Bat

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Hidden away in the back of a parking lot on Lawrence Avenue, this unassuming Korean spot specializes in ox bone soup. Called seolleongtang, the milky white broth is known as a hangover remedy because of its simple-yet-comforting flavor. Each bowl also contains choice of brisket, flank steak, tripe, tendon, or tongue. It’s accompanied by rice and kimchi and can be seasoned to taste with salt, chopped green onions, and chili paste.

Cafe El Tapatio

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Whether it’s chicken tortilla or cream of roasted poblano pepper, the Mexican soups at this mom-and-pop spot are made with plenty of love. Don’t expect any frills, just some good old fashioned home-style cooking. A second outpost is located in Glenview.

Soupbox

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This Lakeview takeout spot has thrived due to a great variety of soups that are affordable and delicious. The Signature Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice is one of the highlights as it’s nourishing and satisfying. Pair it with a grilled cheese and wave goodbye to those wintertime blues.

Andy's Thai Kitchen

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Tom yum soup is a Thai favorite and its spices are much needed during the cold season. The rich and funky, spicy and sour broth is characterized by notes of lemongrass, alongside other ingredients like mushroom, onion, tomato, and cilantro. For a heartier option, go with ATK’s boat noodle soup: A complex, dark broth filled with brisket, rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, fried pork skins, and more.

Le Bouchon

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France’s iconic onion soup dates back centuries and needs little introduction. Thaw off by diving into Le Bouchon’s top notch version. It’s a beef stock full of caramelized onions with a layer of melted gruyere on top.

Pozoleria San Juan

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One of Chicago’s small community of pozolerias offers the hominy soup in three different varieties: Roja, verde, and blanco. It comes with a number of toppings including avocado, cilantro, lime, radish, and cabbage, as well as chicharrones that are perfect for dipping.

Podhalanka

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If Chicagoans are missing babcia's sour soup, travel to this Polish Triangle restaurant that time forgot for a bowl of zurek, a traditional white borscht. If the fermented rye soup isn't their fancy, there are over several other "zupy" to choose from.

Lola’s Coney Island

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Chicken Avgolemono soup is popular in Detroit where Lola’s Coney Island takes its inspiration. But beyond the chili dogs laced with mustard, the soup stars with shredded chicken, rice, and a lemony broth that is sublime and unexpected from a fast-food stand.

GT Fish & Oyster

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Giuseppe Tentori and Boka Restaurant Group’s seafood hotspot is renowned for its refined shared plates. Diners won’t be judged, though, if they decide to order their own clam chowder. Served in a mason jar alongside housemade oyster crackers, the creamy soup is chockfull of bivalves and has a hint of smokiness thanks to the addition of Nueske’s bacon.

Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering

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This Afro-Caribbean ghost kitchen offers delivery and pick up from the Hatchery in Garfield Park. It’s the brainchild of Niquenya Collins who enjoys blending cultures (she knows five languages). Her chili with beans and beef is rich and dark with notes of, you guessed it, chocolate that don’t make it sweet. The flavor is balanced and worth seeking out.

Rye Deli + Drink

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Just south of Randolph Restaurant Row, Rye has earned a following for its creative and thoughtful modern take on Eastern European Jewish deli cuisine. Its matzo ball soup is a case in point: a fluffy blue corn matzo ball bathes in a fragrant broth made with a sofrito of sumac, za’atar, and Ethiopian berbere. Crowned by delicate curls of radish and parsnip, it’s a decidedly non-traditional approach that still manages to evoke nostalgia.

Greek Islands

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Greeks and non-Greeks alike favor this longtime restaurant for well-executed classics in a traditionally-decorated space. The avgolemono, or egg lemon soup, is an extra creamy version made with chicken broth, rice, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Greek Islands offers outdoor seating and takeout and delivery.

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

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For those seeking Jewish comfort food, head over to this timeless delicatessen for a real deal matzah ball soup. Using the same recipe since 1942, it's no surprise that it's the best selling soup on the menu.

Taipei Cafe

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Beef noodle soup, a beloved dish in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, takes center stage at Bridgeport’s Taipei Cafe. The spicy beef broth is loaded with tender braised beef, chewy noodles, pickled cabbage, and green onion. Variations include an herbal broth version.

Taqueria Los Gallos

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There are more than just tacos on the menu at this Little Village taqueria. In fact, its signature dish is a soup from the Mexican city of Guadalajara called carne en su jugo. Translating to “meat in its juices,” the soup stars beef broth teeming with grilled steak, avocado, bacon, and pinto beans.

Birrieria Zaragoza

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Renowned for its roasted goat, Birrieria Zaragoza serves up a fantastic complementary dish: Consommé. It's cooked without meat drippings, so vegetarians are in the clear.

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Pho 5 Lua

Pho is delicious year-round but it’s essential when the temperatures dip. One of the best bowls is found at Pho 5 Lua on the northwest side, far from Argyle Street. The Vietnamese staple cures any ailment (or hangover) with an intense beef broth and add-ins like rice noodles, brisket, tendon, tripe, meatballs, bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, and more.

Big Jones

The signature Gumbo Ya-Ya at Paul Fehribach’s acclaimed Southern restaurant is packed with Amish chicken, andouille sausage, and buttered Arkansas rice. The Cajun dish can be enjoyed as either a starter or a full meal, and is available by the pint or quart.

Taste of Lebanon

This Andersonville hole-in-the-wall offers tasty Lebanese food at wallet-friendly prices. Made fresh, the hearty lentil soup is a nice addition to a fall or winter meal.

Pick Me Up Cafe

This venerable vegan- and vegetarian-friendly spot has fully settled into new digs after relocating to Uptown in April 2020. The neighborhood may have changed, but fans can rest assured that its popular meat-free chili is as heartwarming as ever.

Han Bat

Hidden away in the back of a parking lot on Lawrence Avenue, this unassuming Korean spot specializes in ox bone soup. Called seolleongtang, the milky white broth is known as a hangover remedy because of its simple-yet-comforting flavor. Each bowl also contains choice of brisket, flank steak, tripe, tendon, or tongue. It’s accompanied by rice and kimchi and can be seasoned to taste with salt, chopped green onions, and chili paste.

Cafe El Tapatio

Whether it’s chicken tortilla or cream of roasted poblano pepper, the Mexican soups at this mom-and-pop spot are made with plenty of love. Don’t expect any frills, just some good old fashioned home-style cooking. A second outpost is located in Glenview.

Soupbox

This Lakeview takeout spot has thrived due to a great variety of soups that are affordable and delicious. The Signature Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice is one of the highlights as it’s nourishing and satisfying. Pair it with a grilled cheese and wave goodbye to those wintertime blues.

Andy's Thai Kitchen

Tom yum soup is a Thai favorite and its spices are much needed during the cold season. The rich and funky, spicy and sour broth is characterized by notes of lemongrass, alongside other ingredients like mushroom, onion, tomato, and cilantro. For a heartier option, go with ATK’s boat noodle soup: A complex, dark broth filled with brisket, rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, fried pork skins, and more.

Le Bouchon

France’s iconic onion soup dates back centuries and needs little introduction. Thaw off by diving into Le Bouchon’s top notch version. It’s a beef stock full of caramelized onions with a layer of melted gruyere on top.

Pozoleria San Juan

One of Chicago’s small community of pozolerias offers the hominy soup in three different varieties: Roja, verde, and blanco. It comes with a number of toppings including avocado, cilantro, lime, radish, and cabbage, as well as chicharrones that are perfect for dipping.

Podhalanka

If Chicagoans are missing babcia's sour soup, travel to this Polish Triangle restaurant that time forgot for a bowl of zurek, a traditional white borscht. If the fermented rye soup isn't their fancy, there are over several other "zupy" to choose from.

Lola’s Coney Island

Chicken Avgolemono soup is popular in Detroit where Lola’s Coney Island takes its inspiration. But beyond the chili dogs laced with mustard, the soup stars with shredded chicken, rice, and a lemony broth that is sublime and unexpected from a fast-food stand.

GT Fish & Oyster

Giuseppe Tentori and Boka Restaurant Group’s seafood hotspot is renowned for its refined shared plates. Diners won’t be judged, though, if they decide to order their own clam chowder. Served in a mason jar alongside housemade oyster crackers, the creamy soup is chockfull of bivalves and has a hint of smokiness thanks to the addition of Nueske’s bacon.

Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering

This Afro-Caribbean ghost kitchen offers delivery and pick up from the Hatchery in Garfield Park. It’s the brainchild of Niquenya Collins who enjoys blending cultures (she knows five languages). Her chili with beans and beef is rich and dark with notes of, you guessed it, chocolate that don’t make it sweet. The flavor is balanced and worth seeking out.

Rye Deli + Drink

Just south of Randolph Restaurant Row, Rye has earned a following for its creative and thoughtful modern take on Eastern European Jewish deli cuisine. Its matzo ball soup is a case in point: a fluffy blue corn matzo ball bathes in a fragrant broth made with a sofrito of sumac, za’atar, and Ethiopian berbere. Crowned by delicate curls of radish and parsnip, it’s a decidedly non-traditional approach that still manages to evoke nostalgia.

Related Maps

Greek Islands

Greeks and non-Greeks alike favor this longtime restaurant for well-executed classics in a traditionally-decorated space. The avgolemono, or egg lemon soup, is an extra creamy version made with chicken broth, rice, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Greek Islands offers outdoor seating and takeout and delivery.

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

For those seeking Jewish comfort food, head over to this timeless delicatessen for a real deal matzah ball soup. Using the same recipe since 1942, it's no surprise that it's the best selling soup on the menu.

Taipei Cafe

Beef noodle soup, a beloved dish in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, takes center stage at Bridgeport’s Taipei Cafe. The spicy beef broth is loaded with tender braised beef, chewy noodles, pickled cabbage, and green onion. Variations include an herbal broth version.

Taqueria Los Gallos

There are more than just tacos on the menu at this Little Village taqueria. In fact, its signature dish is a soup from the Mexican city of Guadalajara called carne en su jugo. Translating to “meat in its juices,” the soup stars beef broth teeming with grilled steak, avocado, bacon, and pinto beans.

Birrieria Zaragoza

Renowned for its roasted goat, Birrieria Zaragoza serves up a fantastic complementary dish: Consommé. It's cooked without meat drippings, so vegetarians are in the clear.

Related Maps