By Jacqueline Runice
Everyone has their favorite childhood memories of soup, a dish as old as the history of cooking. Your Bubbe’s chicken with matzo ball soup could cure whatever plague was floating around and then there’s the first time your mouth experienced silky, rich lobster bisque. Soup is necessary medicine, comfort and sustenance during a Chicago winter and there are creative kitchens churning some unique broths, bisques and porridges.
315 N. LaSalle Drive
Chicago, IL 60654
Everything’s big at River Roast from the table-side carved roasts and fish to spectacular views of the Chicago River. Since Chef/Owner John Hogan aims his contemporary American tavern fare to be “satisfying and soul-warming,” you have to bet his soup will do more of the same. In fact, the Hangover Soup offers not only nutrition after a night on the town but it could also be curative. It’s a hearty kettle of long braised pork shoulder, dried chili and soft, puffy hominy. Hogan cooks lots of pork parts to achieve a super intense broth. “Typically this soup is served only on weekends,” he says, “when the masses are normally hungover. Well, I don’t know about you but in my experience hangovers did not discriminate on which day of the week it was coming so we decided to serve daily!” Don’t miss River Roast’s comforting weekend brunch menu paired with Hogan’s favorite live Chicago blues music.
Heaven on Seven
111 N. Wabash, 7th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602
Everyday is Mardi Gras at the downtown institution, so expect a substantial Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo any day of the week plus exceptional daily specials like cauldrons of split pea with Tasso ham, shrimp and corn chowder (made with corn off the cob, then using the cobs for corn stock), red bean soup, poblano and Yukon gold potato soup and even a Gumbo Z’herbs (vegetarian/gluten free/vegan soup that incorporates over 30 different leafy greens). The Naperville location also offers the hard-to-find turtle soup as well as a chance to try more with its trio of soup. Side that bowl with a jalapeno cheddar corn muffin or some fried oysters and you’ll laugh at the biting chill outside.
Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen
4750 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
You’ve hit the soup jackpot at Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen. Although known for decades for over 40 different types of smoked sausages and meats made daily in the in-house European smokehouses, Gene’s is also simmering 12 to 14 soups you can pick up in the cold case or order either of two piping hot soups to take out or slurp in. The signature chicken noodle soup, made with home made stock, is stellar but you shuld also try chicken barley; beef vegetable; vegetarian vegetable; lamb chili; beet soup; sauerkraut soup; dill pickle soup; wild mushroom; and three kinds of borscht – red, white (with alpine sausage, hard boiled egg and bacon) and Ukrainian which had potatoes. potatoes. Winter brings heartier efforts and and in summer you must try the chilled beet dill. Everything’s smade in small batches without preservatives.
1746 W. Golf Road
Mt Prospect, IL 60056
The word soup comes from French “soupe” so we have to give space on the page and the belly to a bistro turning out tres magnifique Gallic fare. Of course, French onion soup arrives as it should – a house baked slice of baguette floating in steamy homemade broth full of caramelized onions and capped with melted and browned French Gruyere. It’s available everyday as well as deeply satisfying cream options like shrimp bisque, cream of eggplant and apple and cauliflower among the recipes. The restaurant’s entire aesthetic is pleasure without pretension so go head and order that Alsatian tarte flambe, pillowy braised short rib wontons, hefty charcuterie and cheese board or confit of duck leg with duck sausage along with a juicy Piinot Noir. There’s a second location in Crystal Lake, too.
2141 S. Archer Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
When Strings opened February 2014, it was the only dedicated, all ramen shop in town. Now that the bandwagon is tipping over with ramen restaurants, know that Strings is one of the few that actually makes its own noodles (others buy them ready-made from distributors) with a $100,000 noodle making machine, imported from Japan. With the Chinatown and Lakeview locations going full steam ahead, there are two shifts of noodle makers, working 14-16 hours a day. Get the special-recipe, home-made ramen noodles in Shoyu, Shio, Miso or Tonkotsu broth or Hell ramen, a Chicago ramen special made with shoyu broth base topped with asari, ground pork, crispy pork skin, and hot pepper and chili ostensibly made in hell.
Related: Best Japanese Cuisine In Chicago