Unless you’re one of those who likes the rain (which I can understand) and cold (which I can’t), you’ve probably spent roughly 93 percent of your time indoors since mid-September. If you haven’t noticed, the weather outside is frightful, but soup is so delightful! Soup is one of those foods that warms you, nourishes you, and tastes amazing when you need an edible pick-me-up. In Seattle, we are privy to myriad varieties of soups. At any given time, we can choose from piping-hot pho to umami-tastic French onion, from slurpy ramen to thick clam chowder, to name just a few. But which are the best soups in the Emerald City to survive the winter?
In Seattle, there are lots of options for ramen. But if I were to take a newcomer anywhere for an authentic version, it would be to Capitol Hill’s Ooink for the spicy kotteri ramen. The broth is dark and rich, the pork chashu tender, and the noodles plentiful and toothsome. The dish tastes and feels like something you might get on the street in a small Japanese city where English is rarely spoken.
Pho: Than Brothers
While this doesn’t break any news, respect must be given to the top spot. With more than a dozen locations around the city from Capitol Hill to West Seattle, Than Brothers offers heavenly consistency along with top taste. The broth offers an almost medicinal quality, to which anyone who’s tried it while battling a cold can attest. Nothing’s quite as comforting as a bowl of Than Brothers pho on a rainy afternoon.
French onion: Gainsbourg
This Greenwood European-style bistro offers delicacies like escargot while projecting old black-and-white movies on its far wall. But look a little deeper on the menu and you’ll see the spot’s French onion soup, made with thick caramelized onions, beef stock, sherry, and a baked layer of deliciously stinky Gruyère on top. It befits any ancient castle feast. Bon appetit!
Tomato basil: Cheese Wizards
The local food truck that makes the best grilled cheeses in Seattle also makes the city’s best tomato-basil soup. While it may be hard to catch the truck as it zooms on its rounds, if you do, order a cup of their thick, voluptuous tomato-basil with your Goblin King sandwich (a grilled cheese with Swiss, jack, and cream cheeses). The experience will remind you of your favorite childhood meal.
Clam chowder: Daniel’s Broiler
Early for an appointment one rainy afternoon, I stopped into Leschi’s Daniel’s Broiler, one of a few Daniel’s locations in the city, sat down at the bar (it was happy hour), and ordered a cup of the house clam chowder. I ate it, then ordered another. The cup of creamy soup satisfied like a dream come to fruition as I killed time in the elegant steakhouse.
Lobster bisque: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Of course, everyone thinks about this local chain for steak, but the lobster dishes here are really where it’s at. You may want to make a stop at lobster mac-and-cheese island before heading to your main destination, the lobster bisque haven. Warm and creamy, the lobster practically melts on your tongue while the chatter of the Emerald City’s dining well-to-do clinks around you.
Tortilla soup: Plaza Garibaldi
The secret is out! This family-owned Lower Queen Anne Mexican restaurant offers all the standard favorites, from melty quesadillas to big plates of nachos and sizzling fajitas, but their standout tortilla soup is a must-order: marinated chicken and cheesy tortilla strips submerged in a spiced chicken broth garnished with fresh onions and cilantro.
Tom yum: Pestle Rock
It can be hard for a sour soup like tom yum to stand out in a city awash in other great options, but to purists we suggest this Ballard eatery, where there are two varieties: tom yum talay, made with coconut milk, mushrooms, and red chili paste, and guay tiow, with thin rice noodles, ground pork, and green beans and topped with peanuts.
Chicken noodle: Terra Plata
Chicken noodle is probably the first soup you ever tried, so standards must remain high for the classic. And this Capitol Hill destination delivers a lovely, elevated version, with fresh egg pasta, hints of rosemary and sage, roasted mushrooms, and a poached egg. It’s the sensibility of your favorite soup as a kid mixed with that I-just-paid-my-rent-on-time adult flair.