15 Of The Best Bowls Of Soup In S.F. — Mmmmm!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on December 24.]
It wouldn't be winter without some belly-warming eats to combat the bone-chilling winds the Bay blows our way. And before you dismiss comfort food altogether to start that New Year's diet, we suggest you try some of the heartiest pots of broth S.F. chefs are brewing up.
Advertisement
Skip the aluminum-can variety and hunt down our list of irresistible bowls — with the biggest spoons you can find. Whether you're into conventional iterations like American Grilled Cheese Kitchen's Smoky Tomato or more innovative stews like newly opened Lolinda's Sopa De Zapallo, these dishes will soothe more than just your soul. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed not to lick the bowls clean. So, click through, peruse the city's tastiest steamy soups, and then dig in. It's still the holidays — so calories don't count!
1 of 15
Lobster Bisque at Maverick, $12
While the bisque itself is made with the most traditional recipe out there — a pot of roasted lobster shells whisked with tomato paste, heavy whipping cream, and veggies — Maverick’s version has a slightly more Cajun twist. The broth is garnished with a hearty beignet that’s been battered on top of a thick piece of prawn that we honestly could not get enough of. The entire concoction takes almost an entire day to whip up, so you know you’re in for a dish that’s been labored with love.
Maverick, 3316 17th Street (at Mission Street); 415-863-3061.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
2 of 15
French Onion Soup at The Grove, $8.50
If this traditional soup underwent a culinary makeover, it would be The Grove’s decadent rendition of the French dish. It lands at your table inside a skillet loaded in thick cuts of onions and topped with a “floating carpet” of rustic oven-baked bread covered in gruyere and nutty Swiss cheese that drips down the sides. And that’s not all: The chef tops things off with a puddle of olive oil and parsley. We suggest you collapse the bread inside the rich beef broth to soak up its juices. Bon appétit!
The Grove, 690 Mission Street (at Third Street); 415-957-0558.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
3 of 15
Corn Tortilla Soup at The Melt, $3.95 to $6.95
This soup is corny in the best way possible. The Melt, known for its ooey-gooey sandwiches and soup combinations, pours a blend of sweet summer corn (grown at a Brentwood farm) and a mixture of herbs. Don’t let the “sweet” part throw you off — there’s nothing saccharine about this smooth yellow dish. Instead, you’ll get a mouthful of comforting creamy kernels. And since The Melt stabilizes each pot of soup every half hour, at a piping 165 degrees, you’re guaranteed a warm batch to ward off the S.F. chills.
The Melt, 115 Montgomery Street (at Sutter Street); 415-691-6536.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
4 of 15
Wise Sons Matzo Ball Soup, $6
This deep-in-the-Mission Jewish delicatessen has an ambiance that makes you feel like you're back in your mother’s kitchen. And its home-style Matzo Ball Soup validates that sentiment. A medley of chicken and veggies surrounds the large spongy Matzo Ball, which soaks up the tasty broth and flavors. For all you hardcore starch lovers, we recommend taking up Wise Sons' offer of Challah toasted bread for a serious dose of carb-induced endorphins. Oh, and did we mention it’s Woody Allen’s go-to S.F. dish? Um, we’re pretty sure that makes it good enough for us!
Wise Sons, 3150 24th Street (at Shotwell Street); 415-787-3354.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
Advertisement
5 of 15
Smoked Chicken and Andouille Gumbo at Boxing Room, $10 to $17
Boxing Room’s Smoked Chicken and Andouille Gumbo proves you don’t have to attend a barbeque to get your hands on some smoky goodness. And the resto’s chef has Louisiana roots, so we can trust his take on the Southern dish isn’t a phony wannabe. In fact, he says you shouldn’t “mess with a good thing.” Wise words, indeed! The insanely rich and stew-like mixture comes loaded with wheels of andouille sausage and smoldered chicken, holding its own as the ultimate meat-lover’s soup.
Boxing Room, 399 Grove Street (at Gough Street); 415-430-6590.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
6 of 15
Pumpkin Soup at Lolinda, $7
We love us some yummy food where an adorable back story is used as an ingredient. The chef behind this Argentinean resto has created a zesty pumpkin soup that serves as an upgrade to the pot his dad used to make. And while an “Awww” is definitely in order, even more so is a “Mmmm” once you take a spoonful of the stock. Mixed with the roasted squash (that’s also been caramelized!) are finely blended onions and carrots. To finish it off, the chef covers the velvety concoction with pumpkin seeds, orange zest, and a thick mousse, which conceals crushed chili peppers for an added kick. Once you’ve scraped the bowl clean, you’ll be exclaiming, “Mas por favor!”
Lolinda, 2518 Mission Street (at 21st Street); 415-550-6970.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
7 of 15
Coconut Thai Noodle Soup at Citrus Club, $7.95
This quaint Haight Street staple is whipping up one of the most delicious pots of Thai noodle soups out there, and is arguably the biggest bargain on the list. Every large bowl is unique, since you can change the order in whichever way you desire, but ordinarily comes packed with silky rice noodles, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, and fried tofu. It’s the coconut milk that gives this dish its slightly sweet taste, which is balanced by a level of “medium spice” that can also be amped up or simmered down. A word of caution: Daydreams of eating this soup once again soon have yet to subside.
Citrus Club, 1790 Haight Street (at Shrader Street); 415-387-6366.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
8 of 15
Posole at Green Chile Kitchen, $5 to $9
The Mexican stew posole at Western Addition’s Green Chile Kitchen is as traditional as they come. Best yet, if spicy food isn’t your thing, you can still indulge in this very filling South-of-the-border bowl. The soup comes with two blue corn tortillas to scoop up the large pieces of hominy, chunks of chicken, diced onions, and lettuce. And for a citrus burst, squeeze in the side of lime that takes things over the top.
Green Chile Kitchen, 1801 McAllister Street (at Baker Street); 415-440-9412.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
9 of 15
East West Chicken and Dumpling Soup, $9
Trust us, this isn’t your grandmother’s dumpling soup! The top-notch broth is loaded with over 10 ingredients — including chicken feet! — and is finely blended into a chunk-less and soul-soothing liquid. The luscious dumplings are undoubtedly the soup’s main component, which are made up of black peppercorns to counteract the salty stock. The soup is so cozy and warm, that you may be tempted to curl up and relax the rest of the day.
Presidio Social Club, 563 Ruger Street (off of Lombard Street); 415-885-1888.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
Advertisement
10 of 15
Lamb Face Noodle Soup at Mission Chinese, $12
For those with an adventurous palate, this Lamb Face Noodle Soup is full of unexpected flavors to excite your ’buds — both the kind on your tongue and your pals, as this big bowl is meant to be shared. The soup is jam-packed with oodles of extra-soft Shanghai noodles and unbelievably tender pieces of lamb meat. We’re especially feelin’ the whole roasted nuts that give a nice textured crunch and the spiced pickles for a dose of tangy vinegar. The robust broth is brewed using soy sauce and lamb stock, and the entire meal is garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds for an overall savory soup.
Mission Chinese, 2234 Mission Street (between 18th and 19th streets); 415-863-2800.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
11 of 15
Two Choke Soup at Perbacco, $10
This creamy bowl of soup couldn’t make eating your greens any easier — or satisfying! Whipped up using two different types of artichokes of the Globe and Jerusalem variety, Perbacco simmers the veggies into a flavorsome purée topped with semi-crispy miniature strips of bacon and dollops of lemon oil. Swore off all meats? Opt for no bacon, and indulge with your morals in tact.
Perbacco, 230 California Street (between Front and Battery streets); 415-955-0663.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
12 of 15
Clam Chowder at Hog Island, $14
If there’s one soup that comes the furthest from the grocery aisle, it’s Hog Island’s Clam Chowder. The made-to-order bowl is loaded with chunky potatoes, broth consisting of celery, carrots, and leeks, and of course, topped with a mountain of steaming manila clams fished out of Tomales Bay. The buttery broth practically begs to be dunked into with the accompanying claw-shaped piece of sourdough bread. The earlier you order this very hands-on bowl, the better, as it’s prone to selling out —which translates to 150 pounds of clams a day for Hog Island!
Hog Island, 1 Ferry Building, #11 (on The Embarcadero); 415-391-7117.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
13 of 15
Cioppino at Beretta, $19
This always-poppin’ Italian resto in the Mission may be known for slinging divine pizza pies, but do not overlook its mega-hearty Cioppino! It only comes out of the kitchen and onto your table on Tuesdays (which makes Mondays all the more unbearable to get through, right?) but is well worth the weekly wait. Currently, the seasonal and made-to-order bowl is littered with the seven seas: tender red snapper, Dungeness crab, itty-bitty shrimps, mussels, squid, and clams. We can’t lie, we fell for this dish hook, line, and sinker. Every spoonful makes you feel like a fisherman, scooping up the meaty pieces amongst the slightly spicy tomato broth. Grab a glass of the Verdicchio to wash it down since the white wine is used to whip up the broth, too.
Cioppino, 1199 Valencia Street (at 23rd Street); 415-695-1199.

Photo: Courtesy of Beretta
14 of 15
Vegetarian Samusa Soup at Burma Superstar, $11.75 to $14.95
When seated at this buzzy Inner Richmond Burmese joint, there’s a reason the waitress recommends a steaming bowl of Vegetarian Samusa Soup. As one of the restaurant’s hottest dishes (no pun intended!) it comes loaded with potato and curry samusas, falafels, and a trio of veggies: cabbage, onions, and peas. The result? A mega-hearty meal ripe in an ethnic fusion of spices and herbs that slightly burns when slurped down. The bowl comes in two serving sizes, medium and large, and can easily be shared with a group of your lucky friends.
Burma Superstar, 309 Clement Street (between 4th and 5th avenues); 415-387-2147.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
Advertisement
15 of 15
Smoky Tomato Soup at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, $4
You could call us nostalgic for our childhood, but we think there’s plenty more reason this soup holds its own as one of our hands-down faves on the list. Such as its smoky twist on the cult classic (you can thank the paprika and espelette spices for that!) or the fact that the tomato paste is imported from Italy. Served in a deep square bowl and topped with crème fraîche and crunchy garlic croutons, the creamy and slightly tangy batch is ideal for dunking — and will have your taste buds forgetting all about Campbell’s. Don’t worry comfort-depraved Missionites, a new location is headed your way, too!
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, 1 South Park Avenue, #103A (between Brannan and Bryant streets); 415-243-0107.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
Advertisement