Your Guide to the Best Soups in Town

Warm up to the best house-made soups on the menu

Cioppino at Fresh Fish Co.
At this small fishmonger in north Ballard, you’ll find a delightful bowl of cioppino ($3.99), a seafood stew made from a mix of fish and shellfish. Big hunks of fish trimmings and fresh catch embellish this tomato-based soup, which includes chunky vegetables. The seafood changes on any given day; one afternoon boasts spoon-size pieces of Alaskan salmon, while a batch on another day is mostly mollusks and shrimp. The tomato base is nothing special, but the soup itself tastes of the sea. This being a fish market, service is primarily takeout, and soup can be ordered in a portion large enough to feed four ($10.99 for 32 ounces), if you’re looking for dinner in a hurry. 2364 NW 80th St.; 206.782.1632

Huevos Ahogados at Señor Moose Cafe  
Although it is easy to overlook on a menu teeming with tacos, masa cakes and hand-mashed guacamole, the huevos ahogados (“drowned eggs”) soup ($11.95) is not to be missed. Two suspended poached eggs—complete with oozing yolks—float in light tomato broth over a bed of thick, roasted poblano pepper strips and a dusting of Mexican Cotija cheese. On the side, a deeply golden piece of grilled bread slathered in butter is perfect for tearing into small pieces and adding to the broth, softening the bread’s crisp edges and providing texture. Sit at one of the many oil-cloth-covered tables or eat at the counter, which faces the kitchen (a great spot for solo dining) and enjoy this for breakfast (yes, this makes a terrific breakfast), lunch and dinner. 5242 NW Leary Ave.; 206.784.5568;

Hungarian Goulash at Liebchen Delicatessen   
At this lunch-only deli, soups made from scratch focus on Eastern European classics, such as the hearty Hungarian goulash, spiked with cubes of pork loin ($2.83/cup, $4.35/bowl) and sweet and hot paprika. Made daily and loosely following a recipe, no two pots are ever the same. This quintessential deli, donned in Bavarian-themed decor, has a handful of small tables at the front of the shop. Small wares and grocery items line the long shelves full of products, especially around holidays, when the imported European candies are prominently displayed. 14125 NE 20th St., Suite G; 425.746.7810;
Avgolemono at Vios Cafe  
Owner Thomas Soukakos, who hails from Sparta, offers classic Greek dishes that are wholesome and flavorful. While the menu changes seasonally, in winter, you’ll find several soup options, including the popular avgolemono ($4/cup, $6/bowl, $10/lunch bowl). This traditional Greek soup, speckled with white rice, tastes creamy, but the chicken broth is actually thickened with egg yolks, creating its signature yellow hue. Lemon juice gives the soup a refreshing tang; the bright citrus hints help to lighten winter doldrums. While soup can be ordered for takeout, the neighborhood cafés (also in Ravenna) are comfortable, and the staff is always friendly, so stick around to slurp. Capitol Hill, 903 19th Ave. E, 206.329.3236; Ravenna, 6504 20th Ave. NE, 206.525.5701;

Matzoh Ball Soup at Volunteer Park Cafe  
Thick, fat matzoh balls and coarsely chopped vegetables give this matzoh ball soup ($4.50/cup, $5.50/bowl) a satisfying, toothsome texture. Drawing on a love of one-pot cooking, chef and owner Ericka Burke has been making this soup for years, and it’s one of the most popular dishes at the café. A daily offering (along with one other rotating soup at lunch), the soup boasts a house-made broth that has a strong, pleasant hit of black pepper along with large, pulled pieces of roasted chicken. Communal seating promises a social lunch hour. 1501 17th Ave. E; 206.328.3155;

Pho Tai Nam at Ba Bar  
This soup’s deeply flavorful, salty stock is made with oxtail and marrow bones, plus charred shallots and ginger at this airy enclave, which serves fresh, house-made Vietnamese food all day, every day. Large, satisfying bowls of steaming soup are served with a perfect amount of thin rice noodles, along with strips of North-west fatty beef brisket and lean London broil from Painted Hills Natural Beef ($9 breakfast, $11 lunch and dinner). Bowls are served on platters with traditional fresh pho accompaniments—basil sprigs, lime quarters and sliced jalapeño—along with a squeeze of oyster sauce and Sriracha, and can be ordered from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. most days, and until 4 a.m. on the weekends. Beef balls, shiitake mushrooms or tendon can be added to the bowl for $2 extra—we recommend the plump and succulent mushrooms. 550 12th Ave.; 206.328.2030;

Tortilla Soup at Poquitos   
At less than $5 for lunch and $9 for dinner, this soup is an excellent choice day or night. Healthy, hardy and chock-full of vegetables, with a pronounced roasted tomato flavor, this bowl of soup is garnished with fresh cilantro, avocado, raw white onions (which add crisp texture) and a crumble of salty Cotija cheese. The chicken-broth base is infused with roasted red chiles, adding heat, and it’s loaded with pieces of grilled chicken. The large room seats diners in plush booths and cushioned swivel chairs around the bar, while the atrium-like bar area next door is an oasis of natural light, even on gray winter days. 1000 E Pike St.; 206.453.4216; 

Brown Beef Noodle with Soup at Szechuan Noodle Bowl  
Located on the edge of the International District in an aging building, this restaurant has long been a foodie favorite for its green onion pancakes and savory dumplings. Inside, perfunctory tables and a low ceiling await guests. The staff is friendly; however, be sure to bring cash, as plastic is not accepted. The vague-sounding brown beef noodle with soup ($7.95) gets a little lost on the menu full of delicious-sounding options, but you’d be remiss not to order it. A big bowl of hand-cut, thickly misshapen noodles (cu mian, similar to Japanese udon) comes topped with a deep brown broth that is rich and salty. Cubes of beef are soft, tender and full of flavor, and are accompanied by a handful of wilted baby bok choy and chopped green onions, which add a bit of verdancy to the bowl. 420 Eighth Ave. S; 206.623.4198

Clam Chowder at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar   
It’s a bit of a puzzle to find this historic Pike Place Market oyster bar: Walk down the winding stairs from Post Alley directly into its courtyard, or, alternately, head to the recesses of the Market stalls between Virginia and Stewart streets, just past the original Starbucks. The decor is expectedly nautical, with a menu to match. Small, bright blue booths and checkered oil-cloth table coverings set the tone, as does the handwritten menu presented on an old paper bag. As far as soups go, the clam chowder rules; its sauce rich with puréed potatoes—not a starchy thickener. At $5.50 a bowl ($4.25/cup), it makes for a price-perfect, filling lunch. Pike Place Market, 1916 Pike Place; 206.448.7721

Shoyu ramen at Yoroshiku in Wallingford; photo by Easton Richmond

Tom’s Tomato Soup at Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge
In the jewel-box space that houses the Dahlia Bakery, people queue up year-round for takeout soups, salads and sandwiches. Just like mom used to make, Tom’s tasty tomato soup (available daily) is loaded with canned tomatoes and cream in perfect proportions, creating a super tomatoey soup that is best eaten with the brown-butter croutons (always served in Dahlia Lounge, next door; order as an extra at the bakery). Go with the large portion ($6 at the bakery and $9 at the lounge)—the soup has an irresistible piquancy, and the smaller cup ($4 and $6 respectively) will surely leave you wanting more. Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Ave.; 206.441.4540 and 206.682.4142. Also available daily at Home Remedy, 2121 Sixth Ave.; 206.812.8407;

French Onion Soup at Luc
Tucked into the busiest corner of Madison Valley, Luc serves French classics in a casual dining room fit for all occasions. Chef and owner Thierry Rautureau began cooking in kitchens in France as a teenager, learning the regimented classics at a young age. It is no surprise then that this traditional French onion soup ($9) is the best the city has to offer. Made from a rich stock of poultry and veal, the slightly sweet broth is bulked up with caramelized onions. A thick, toasted baguette wedge floats in the center of the bowl, while sharp Gruyère cheese is layered over the top and broiled, producing a bitter-crispy topping that is irresistible. Good thing the dish is available on both the dinner and weekend brunch menus.  2800 E Madison St.; 206.328.6645;

‘Nona’ Vita at Mondello
The meatball soup at this Magnolia Village eatery is served as you’d expect it to be in Italy: no fancy garnishes and no secret flavors, just a wholesome, simple bowl of soup. Two friends—Corino Bonjrada and Giuseppe Forte—from north of Palermo own and run Mondello, named after the small town where they grew up. Small veal meatballs scented with parsley fill a shallow bowl of chicken stock, making the soup a hearty bowl fit for dinner. This version includes a small amount of spaghetti. Bonjrada’s mother, Enza, cooks most nights, while his grandmother, “Nona” Vita, is often perched at the bar waiting for closing time. The women’s presence, together with the heavy wood tables, the colorful room’s muted shades of blue and terra-cotta, and a hodgepodge of decorative items, lend to the overall homey feel. 2425 33rd Ave. W; 206.352.8700;

Shoyu Ramen at Yoroshiku
Ramen joints are a dime a dozen in Seattle, but few do it better than Yoroshiku, which offers traditional foods from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, where chef and owner Keisuke Kobayashi grew up. At lunch, it’s all ramen, either traditionally served in a bowl with broth or as “tsuke men”—noodles dipped into broth before slurping. Select from three broths (chicken and fish broth seasoned with soy sauce, house-made miso base or house-made miso base with chili oil), and several additional ingredients; the list runs the gamut of an exotic and well-stocked pantry. Our recommendations: the popular shoyu ramen ($9), with the addition of a soft-boiled egg or roasted seaweed. Also, a house-made miso broth works well with the vegetable soup, which is hearty when accented with roasted mushrooms or sweet corn. 1913 N 45th St.; 206.547.4649;

A handful of local places offer tasty and speedy options for soup lovers in a hurry

Infinite Soups  
If not quite infinite, this walk-up, cash-only shop in Tacoma’s St. Helens District does offer 20–25 delectable handmade soups daily. Owners Todd and Wendy DeShazo and Laura Adams boast a rotating menu of expected (broccoli cheddar, beef and barley) and gourmet (chicken Gorgonzola tortellini, eggplant parmesan) soups that align with the availability of local produce. Vegetarians and vegans can choose from more than a handful of protein-packed options, including the delightful, dairy-free (made with coconut milk) Caribbean red bean soup. The atmosphere is nostalgic: Stacks of records line the walls of the micro lobby, and a Crosley turntable spins all sorts of music. Snag a cup of soup ($3.50) and baguette (baked fresh and delivered by Corina Bakery three doors down) as a quick lunch, or a pint ($5.50) or two to bring home for dinner. Tacoma, 445 Tacoma Ave. S; 253.274.0232; Facebook, “Infinite Soups.” Look for a second Tacoma location, which was slated to open late last year.

Metropolitan Markets  
In the grab-and-go grocer realm, Metropolitan Markets excels in its daily soup offerings—a large, self-serve bar offers various soups, depending on the location. French mushroom bisque is earthy and spiked with sherry, while the tomato basil leans toward creamy and is laden with fresh basil. All soups are made from scratch in-house by a team of trained culinary staff using traditional soup-making techniques.  $2.99–$8.99 for individual portions. Various locations;

Soup’s On!
With a rotating weekly menu, this kiosk, located on the ground floor of the City Centre building, offers 11 soups daily, including some gluten-free options, and rolls from Franz Bakery. Soups are made off-site and cooked in small batches without the extra preservatives you find in many soup mixes. Try the slightly spicy coconut chicken curry made with Thai basil and ginger. $3.99–$10.99 for individual portions. Downtown, 1420 Fifth Ave.; 206.625.9973;

The Great Northwest Soup Co.  
Popular items tend to run out early at this South Lake Union lunch hot spot filled with neighborhood workers on lunch break. So don’t dawdle. Choose from about a dozen soups made in small batches daily, each served with a roll or cornbread. $4.49–$6.49 for individual portions. South Lake Union, 340 Westlake Ave. N, 206.420.8351; downtown, 1323 Fourth Ave.,206.859.6498;