Shift Into Soup Mode With These Hearty Bowls

Soup season is here! These are the best bowls that Philly restaurants are serving up this fall.

best soup philadelphia

Pozole Verde from Cantina La Martina is one of the best soups in Philadelphia. / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

It’s officially the season where people start saying they’re going to make soup every Sunday as meal prep. This act, while a good idea, will likely fade into the background by the middle of November. But as we’re all savoring the change in season and the relief from the heat of summer, the idea of eating something steaming hot without breaking a sweat is deeply appealing. That, and the produce of fall is perfect in a soupy situation: creamy squash soup, chunky kale and sausage soup, spiced chickpea soups, dal with spinach stirred in. The options are truly endless, and menus across the city reflect that. Here are some of our favorite bowls of soup for fall.

Matzoh ball soup at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, Queen Village
When I think of soup, the matzoh ball soup at Famous 4th Street is the first thing that pops into my mind. I crave it when I’m sick, I crave it when I’m cold, I crave it when the weather turns just a tiny bit crisp and I start thinking about sweaters. It comes in two sizes: normal bowl, and large metal bowl that includes a ladle. I’d recommend the latter, with leftovers for later, but follow your own soup-loving heart.

Oxtail and wagyu katiew at MawnEast Passyunk
Hopefully you don’t need to be told to go to your favorite neighborhood pho spot ASAP. But if you’re looking to up the ante, head to Mawn in the Italian Market for a bowl of their oxtail-and-wagyu katiew, a Cambodian rice-noodle soup that chef Phila Pans tops with tender braised oxtail and sliced wagyu.

Pozole verde at Cantina La Martina, Kensington
Cantina La Martina’s pozole verde will warm you up in several ways. The poblano-pepper pork broth gives the soup a kick of spicy heat while the hominy corn and pork makes it earthy and savory. It comes with a variety of fixings like lime, herbs, spices, onions, tostadas and a stuffed jalapeño, so you can bring different flavors to every bite.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Ray’s CafeChinatown
Ray’s Cafe is beloved by everyone who has been there, mostly for their siphon coffee, which is brewed from single origin beans for an exceptionally smooth cup. But Ray’s also serves beef noodle soup, a rich beef-based broth packed with bok choy, fresh wheat noodles, and chunks of beef.

Yasai patan at Neighborhood RamenQueen Village
Ramen generally calls to mind a very meaty experience, but Neighborhood Ramen’s yasai patan hits that creamy, deeply savory ramen note while also staying totally vegan. It leans hard on mushrooms in the garlicky broth, as well as a sautéed mushroom mix and simmered daikon for meaty texture.

Snapper soup at Oyster House, Center City
Soup is a nostalgic dish, but if you’re a food history nerd, you’d know that snapper soup has been a regional favorite for centuries. Pieces of snapper turtle are suspended in a thick and creamy broth. Seasoned with aromatic spices and a little bit of sherry and you’ve got a bowl of soup that’ll keep you warm and cozy.

Caldo Verde at GildaFishtown
The Portuguese are known for loving soup, and caldo verde is among the country’s most beloved recipes. Gilda’s version includes linguiça, a classic Portuguese sausage, in the potato-thickened soup alongside tender kale and onion. Get it with a bifana — stewed pork sandwich — for a very Portuguese, very comforting lunch.

Pickle soup at Mom-Mom’s Kitchenpop-ups
Keep an eye out for Mom-Mom’s pop-ups where come fall they offer their Polish pickle soup in addition to plump, potato-filled pierogi. People kind of lose their minds over this special, which is a creamy, sour-cream based potato soup with lots of fresh dill and plenty of chopped pickles.

Sang Kee Souper Bowl at Sang Kee Peking Duck House, Chinatown
The best part about soup is that you can really put anything in it. But at Sang Kee Peking Duck House, they’ve put all of their greatest hits into one gigantic bowl of soup. We’re talking a double order of noodles, wontons, and shrimp dumplings along with roast pork, steamed chicken, roast duck and a soy egg.

Coconut-squash soup at Jezabel’s CafeWest Philly
Lunch at Jezabel’s is like lunch at your friend’s house, except in this case your friend is Argentine and an excellent cook. Pair a couple empanadas with their fall soup, a vegan-by-accident coconut-and-squash soup puréed to creamy perfection and great for dipping bread or empanadas. Find it at their West Philly location or in quarts at area farmers’ markets.