Worth a Try: Soups

soups from Soupbox

From chowder and gumbo to tomato and chicken noodle, here are 10 great places across the country serving up soup.

Union Oyster House, Boston, Massachusetts

Union Oyster House in Boston, MA

Located on the Freedom Trail near Faneuil Hall, Union Oyster House is in a building dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days. This Boston fixture started serving food in 1826 and has stayed in the same family through generations. Having the title of America’s Oldest Restaurant has inspired owners Joseph Milano and Mary Ann Milano Picardi and Executive Chef Rico DiFronzo to keep the traditions alive. Still serving recipes that have been favorites for decades, Union Oyster House sells more than 25,000 gallons of their classic New England Clam Chowder annually. They also serve French Onion Soup, Oyster Stew, and Fish Chowder featuring seasonal fresh fish straight from Boston Harbor. 41 Union St.

Broad Street Bakery and Cafe, Jackson, Mississippi

With a big emphasis on family legacy, using Old-World recipes, and making everything by hand, Broad Street puts their heart and passion into every order. They have a variety of soups, gumbos, and chili that rotate on the menu, and every soup is served with a slice of fresh bread from the bakery to soak up every last drop. With a quick glance around, it’s obvious this bakery hopes to take you back to a time and place where generations created hearty meals from scratch, and that’s exactly what they have done. I-55 North & Northside Dr.

The Olde Bar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Located in Philadelphia’s landmark Old Original Bookbinder’s building, The Olde Bar is a contemporary oyster bar that pays homage to the original tradition. Renowned Chef Jose Garces has designed the menu to celebrate the city’s storied past, and one of the iconic dishes is Snapper Turtle Soup, which is served year-round. This thick and rich gravy-like soup features a quail egg and is finished with sherry cream. 125 Walnut St.

Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, Louisiana

Commander's Palace restaurant in New Orleans, LA

Nestled in the heart of the tree-lined Garden District, Commander’s Palace has been a Big Easy landmark since 1880. James Beard Rising Star Chef and Best Chef South winner Chef Tory McPhail serves up stunning dishes from this iconic kitchen, including Gumbo du Jour spiked with Louisiana hot sauce, the restaurant’s classic Turtle Soup finished tableside with dry sherry, and a Soup du Jour that rotates seasonally. 1403 Washington Ave. 

The Soup Kitchen, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Stepping into The Soup Kitchen is reminiscent to a meal at grandma’s house. This restaurant has been serving up soup for the past 35 years, and with locations across East Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky, they have no plans to stop anytime soon. With more than 120 soups, six homemade breads, and nine desserts that are all made from scratch, there’s a bowlful of something for everyone to love. Their customer-favorite Snow Crab Soup is served only on Wednesdays, but don’t miss the Beef & Barley and Southwestern Chicken. 47 E. Tennessee Ave.

Cactus Flower Cafe, Pensacola, Florida

Founder Lee Kafeety was born to Mexican-American parents and raised in California. When life took her to Florida, she shared her love of fresh Mexican cuisine with Pensacola. Word of Cactus Flower spread, and there are now six locations. All the dishes served in the café are family recipes, some with a little twist. Her soups pack big flavor with fresh lime, sour cream, cilantro, and even homemade crispy tortilla strips. Favorites include Chicken Tortilla Soup and Posole, a traditional rich hominy and chicken stew in a spicy red chile sauce. 3425 North 12th Ave.

Soupbox, Chicago, Illinois

soups from Soupbox

First opening in June 1995 as Icebox and serving homemade Italian ice, founder Jamie Taerbaum creatively switched up the business to serve something a little warmer to help brave the Chicago winter. Icyfruit is still available in the summer, but soups are now the specialty. Executive Chef Dru Melton has more than 70 soup recipes in rotation, and both locations offer 12 varieties daily with freshly baked bread. Favorites are the Signature Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice and Fresh Broccoli & White Cheddar. 50 E. Chicago Ave.

82 Queen, Charleston, South Carolina

It’s hard to visit the Lowcountry and not see She-Crab Soup on the menu. This iconic dish is famed in the region, but no one makes it better than 82 Queen. It’s practically expected for you to begin any meal here with at least a cup of this showstopper, but they do have a Chef’s Soup du Jour that’s always delicious as well. Sister restaurant Lowcountry Bistro also serves the award-winning crab soup, and you can purchase the house-made soup mix to enjoy in your own home. 82 Queen St.

Souper Jenny, Atlanta, Georgia

Some places just make you feel great as soon as you walk in, and Souper Jenny is no exception. Servers are full of positive energy and personality and often greet patrons with singing, smiles, and interpretive dance. This collection of cozy neighborhood cafés across Atlanta features fresh ingredients and healthy options for wellness from the inside out. While there are usually six soups offered daily, customers favor Jenny’s father’s Turkey Chili and Souper Power Green soup, which is packed with green veggies. Even offering cooking classes at some locations, Jenny values community involvement. 56 E. Andrews Drive NE Ste. 22.

The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, Ohio

soup from Greenhouse Tavern

After living and working in New York City, Chef Jonathon Sawyer proudly returned to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to open a restaurant. His innovative menus leave no doubt why he took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes. The lunch menu features a seasonal variety of soups that use fresh ingredients from local farms. While the menu changes often, James’s soups have proved themselves not only as customer-favorites, but they also show off the best of Ohio. Don’t miss their Roasted Ohio Pork and Mushroom Soup in the fall. 2038 E. 4th St. 

Photos courtesy of SoupBox, Union Oyster House, Team Sawyer, and Commander’s Palace

This content was originally published in the December 2015 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine. © 2015 Hoffman Media