In the cold winter months, nothing satisfies like a hot bowl of soup. This country is home to some famous and a few perhaps less well known (but still delectable) regional and adapted ethnic soups — from New England Clam Chowder and New Orleans Gumbo to South Asian Laksa, Pennsylvania Mushroom, and Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup. Here are 10 of our favorite classic soups and where to get yourself a bowl.
Cioppino, Cioppino’s, San Francisco, California
The name says it all. This beloved Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant has been churning out bowls of this uniquely San Franciscan spicy fish stew since 1997. Their namesake soup brims with mussels, Dungeness crab, shrimp, snapper, clams, calamari, and tomatoes swimming in fennel- and wine-scented broth. Thick hunks of sourdough toast served alongside are perfect for sopping every last bit of that spicy, rust-colored broth. Make a reservation at Cioppino’s.
Mushroom Soup, Parc, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Half of America’s mushrooms are grown in the tiny Chester County borough of Kennett Square, about 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia. So if you find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love, you’d be remiss to pass up on mushroom soup. At Rittenhouse Square French brasserie Parc, the velvety mushroom soup combines cremini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaf with mushroom and chicken stock and a touch of cream. The soup is pureed and then garnished with a mix of roasted exotic mushrooms (beech, piopini, maitake, and more creminis) for texture, minced chives, and a drizzle of olive oil. Make a reservation at Parc.
Laksa, Cassia, Santa Monica, California
This popular soup slurped on the streets Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore has numerous adaptations, though its common elements are chili-infused coconut milk broth and a generous portion of noodles. At Asian-influenced L.A. brasserie Cassia, Bryant Ng’s seafood laksa combines shrimp, mussels, rice noodles, herbs, and a hardboiled egg in a thick, fiery coconut curry broth with the subtle funk of shrimp paste. Make a reservation at Cassia.
French Onion Soup, Bistro Campagne, Chicago, Illinois
There’s no shortage of terrific French bistros around the country — nearly all of them offering some variation on this beefy soup teeming with caramelized onions and topped with bubbling Gruyere croutons. At this little spot in Chicago’s residential Lincoln Square neighborhood, the soup a l’oignon gratinée is simple yet beautifully executed, with a tangle of sweet, caramelized onions bobbing in savory, beefy broth capped with a dense layer of nutty, blistered Gruyere —enough cheese to have some in every bite. Make a reservation at Bistro Campagne.
Ramen, Bar Chuko Izakaya, Brooklyn, New York
There’s a reason Americans have fallen hard for this Japanese soup made from thick, savory broth and slurpable noodles. As one of the first U.S. cities to embrace ramen, New York has no shortage of great options, but this Prospect Heights spot from three Morimoto alums is surely a top contender. Their delectable kimchi ramen packs ground pork, toothsome hand-pulled noodles, seaweed, egg, and thin scallion ribbons. But the vegetarian — with seasonal veggies, kimchi, spiced tofu cubes, and noodles bobbing in miso-soy broth — is a sleeper hit. Make a reservation at Bar Chuko Izakaya.
Beer Cheese Soup, Rumpus Room, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
As the nation’s top cheese-producing state that also ranks in the top 10 for craft breweries, Wisconsin takes its cheese and beer very seriously, so it’s no surprise there’s a soup that embodies the best of both. The Rumpus Room’s version blends creamy, tangy Carr Valley cheddar and bright, mildly tart Weiss beer, topped with airy morsels of house-spiced popcorn for a rich, comforting bowl to warm you through after braving the bitter Lake Michigan winds outside. If you’re really starved for comfort, throw on an optional brown sugar bacon topper. Make a reservation at Rumpus Room.