11 Places To Track Down The Best Soup & Stew Dishes In Chicago
By Anthony Todd in Food on Dec 29, 2016 5:56PM
Beef soup at Katy's Dumpling House. Photo by Jennifer Olvera.
By Jennifer Olvera
We’ve hit the point when 70-degree weather is a distant memory. So, let’s be honest: Winter in Chicago can really suck. Fortunately, livening those grey days is easier than one might think, thanks to the many impressive options for hot pots, soups, stews and chili. Whether you like yours fiery-hot or comfortingly complex, these slurpable meals are reasons to brave the outdoors.
There’s nothing fancy about BYOB Pozoleria San Juan, but it’s pozole verde sure is special. The red and white? Yeah, they’re memorable, too. From the scratch-made hominy to the rich broth and customizable condiments — avocado, radish, limes, chicharrón and cabbage — a bowl of this stuff feels akin to a big, cozy hug. Needless to say, the rest of the menu is broad and filled with all the Mexican standards you’d expect.
Pozoleria San Juan is located at 1523 N. Pulaski Rd.
Da Rae Jung
For super-authentic Korean soups and stews, Lincoln Square’s Da Rae Jung is hard to beat, especially when it comes to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink budae jjigae (a.k.a. “army stew”). It's a shareable soup loaded with funky kimchi, sliced hot dogs, Spam, tofu, cheese and ramen and glass noodles.
Da Rae Jung is located at 5220 N. Lincoln Ave
Carrot Soup via Little Goat Diner.
Stephanie Izard’s casual Little Goat Diner offers an invitingly updated menu of homey favorites and unexpected finds alike (think breakfast spaghetti with guanciale, clams and crab; fried chicken; and patty melts). But on the coldest of days, the goat chili—topped with cheddar, sour cream, pickled veggies and crunchy “pizza poofs”—is where it’s at. Buoyed by hunks of rich, gamey meat, you won’t miss the oyster crackers (or ground beef) a bit.
Little Goat Diner is located at 820 W. Randolph St.
Little Lamb Hot Pot
Known for its Mongolian herbal broth, Little Lamb’s options vary from spicy to seafood-centric. Whatever you choose, this Chinatown haunt warms you from the inside out. Simply pick your broth base—try the tongue-searing mal la if you dare—or choose a divided hot pot that makes way for two kinds, along with a variety of meats, seafood, mushrooms, noodles, vegetables, balls and dumplings, all of which arrive waiting to be cooked in the bubbling cauldron set before you.
Little Lamb Hot Pot is located at 2201 S. Wentworth Ave.
Situated in the North Center neighborhood in a converted, 1920’s-era funeral home, Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro affords a unique setting for comfort-driven mains from the Emerald Isle, among them Guinness beef stew. From its roaring fireplaces to its five intimate dining rooms and whiskey list, there’s plenty to keep you toasty amid frigid climes.
Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro is located at 3905 N. Lincoln Ave.
Photo via Big Jones.
For heirloom southern cooking, there is no better option than Big Jones, where the thoughtful preparations of historic regional American recipes shines. That includes in the gumbo ya-ya, a Cajun roux-based thing of wonder, filled with andouille sausage, pork, chicken and fragrant Arkansas rice.
Big Jones is located at 5347 N. Clark St.
Ruby’s Fast Food
Come for the wide array of counter-serve Filipino faves—crispy pata, anyone?—at Ruby’s Fast Food, making sure to linger over the not-for-the-squeamish pork blood soup. Of course, you’ll also find warming options like tapsilog and pancit canton if that’s not your thing.
Ruby’s Fast Food is located at 3740 W. Montrose Ave.
Nha Hang Viet Nam
Low-key, welcoming and located on the Argyle strip, Nha Hang Viet Nam is the perfect place for a pick-me-up bowl of pho or, better yet, bun mam, a hearty number that’s akin to Vietnamese gumbo, except it’s a bit sour. — like a tom yum-like seafood soup.
Nha Hang Viet Nam is located at 1032 W. Argyle St.
Consider this dark, wood-paneled supper club with sassy career servers your go-to when a break from glam steakhouses is in store. It’s a must for the area’s very best French onion soup, turned from a broiler in the corner of the dining room. It arrives bubbling, robust and gooey in a crock prior to the main event.
Golden Steer is located at 7635 W. Roosevelt Rd., Forest Park.
The clear, tomato-based consommé that arrives before singular, roasted goat tacos at this family-run joint is not to be missed. It’s the perfect precursor to the savory meat and just the way to take the nip out of a cold winter’s day.
Birrieria Zaragoza is at 4854 S. Pulaski Rd.
In addition to serving the best pork and chive dumplings around, no-frills Katy’s Dumpling House in Westmont also serves beyond-admirable spicy beef soup that’s loaded with real-deal hand-pulled noodles, hunks of meat and chopped cilantro, all of it swimming in a deeply nuanced, long-simmered and tongue-singeing broth. Order one to go — keeping the noodles separate — for another day. Bring cash.
Katy’s Dumpling House is located at 665 N. Cass Ave., Westmont