Step away from the canned soups at your grocery store and let Philly’s chefs show you how soup is done. From the favorite French onion, to seafood classics and house-made Chinese noodles and beef, these Philadelphia spots are serving up bowls of belly-warming soups that will get you through the coldest days.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House Inc.
1022 Race St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
For cheap, authentic, Chinese pulled noodles, it doesn’t get any better than this. Named for the city where the tradition of pulled noodles originated, Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House offers made-to-order fresh noodles. In fact, you can watch the chefs stretching, looping and even counter-smacking the ropes of dough to create the delicate strands used in soups and stir fry. The base of the soup is a clear broth made using beef and chicken with a bit of star anise, ginger, cilantro and pickled cabbage. But what you add to it is entirely up to you. Choose from ox, lamb, chicken, seafood and more. Beef brisket and meatball are just two of the favorites. With bowls of soup running between $4 and $6, you can easily fill up for under $10.
1516 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
With a name like Oyster House, it’s no surprise that oysters take center stage at this East Coast-style seafood restaurant. A constantly changing menu of oysters is served at the restaurant’s marble raw bar, and the buck-a-shuck happy hour — from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday — is one of the best seafood deals you’ll find in the city. When the weather’s too cold for oysters alone, try one of chef Sam Mink’s soups. You can’t go wrong with the New England or Manhattan clam chowders, but it’s the snapper turtle soup that’s a real standout. Hearty without being too thick, it’s packed with fresh snapper along with a touch of clove. A bowl is $7.
227 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Wander from Rittenhouse Square into Paris — or as close as you’ll find to a French bistro in Philadelphia. Order a glass of wine and a bowl of soup to accompany the heaping basket of fresh bread that is brought to each table. With rich broth, caramelized onions and plenty of gooey melted cheese, a crock of French onion soup, at $11.50, is always a winner. Or try the decadent mushroom soup, which boasts three varieties of wild mushrooms for $10.50. Crossing over to the entrée section of the menu, you’ll find the $26 beef bourguignon. While it’s definitely not a soup in the traditional sense, tender beef, root vegetables and potatoes are served in a shallow bowl of rich broth for a stick-to-your-bones stew-like meal that’s perfect for cold weather.
1516 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
At REX 1516, chef Justin Swain offers a menu of Southern-inspired comfort food with updated twists. The restaurant itself is on the small side, with the majority of the furniture repurposed from salvaged Southern mansions and churches. The result is a cozy atmosphere where you’ll want to relax with a warm bowl of seafood pan roast. The hearty bouillabaisse-style stew includes clams, shrimp, mussels, andouille and fingerlings in a rich white wine, absinthe butter broth. At $13, it’s perfect with a big piece of crusty bread. Pair it with one of the cold-weather drinks — such as the Mint Prescription julep — for a meal that’s sure to warm from the inside out.
Related: Top Fall Drinks In Philadelphia
600 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Stephen Starr brings a bit of the seafood-loving coastal towns along the famous Route 6 highway to Philadelphia with his 150-seat Center City restaurant. Seasonal classic dishes such as lobster rolls, oysters, daily whole fish specials and a wood-burning oven and grill transport diners to the eastern shore. During these cold days, you’ll want to start your meal with a cup of the New England clam chowder. Or opt for the decadent oyster pan roast, featuring oysters swimming in a rich sauce along with braised leeks and salsify for $12.
Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.
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