From French onion oozing with cheese, to zingy Asian bowls of yum, there’s a soup for every chilly day of the year in London. Here are the bowls guaranteed to warm your cockles.
The creamy, hearty soup
We love Ed Baines's Soho-based seafood restaurant Randall & Aubin for its ever-reliable excellent daily fish, its welcoming atmosphere and its disco ball. But we highly recommend starting off proceedings with their cosy bowlful of New England style clam and bacon chowder; rich and comforting thanks to plump, sweet little clams mingling with smokey bacon and hearty potato chunks. It’s served with a traditional cornbread accompaniment, and is pretty filling.
You'd do equally well to opt for their saffron infused Provencal style velvety fish soup, served with those delicious rouille croutons and comte. You can't really go wrong.
Randall & Aubin, 14-16 Brewer Street, W1F 0SG
The soup experts
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Dedicated soup station, Nincomsoup, sees daily queues at its Silicon Roundabout location. With an ever-changing menu of over 100 globally-inspired soups, you can keep up with the ever-changing menu via their Twitter feed; past examples include a fragrant Moroccan lamb soup, an indulgent Hoxton Rarebit and Senegalese chicken. Smalls are around £2.80 creeping towards £5.50 for a big old pot of hot soup which you can eat in, take out or order via Deliveroo. Amp it up with something homemade from their bakery section (again, a varied roster of 80 recipes) including pumpkin seed bread, tortilla chips and croutons. There are plenty of veggie, vegan and GF options too.
Nincomsoup, Old Street Station, EC1Y 1BE
The soup with the best noodle pull
London is now crawling with ramen joints, but our favourite is still Tonkotsu and the tastiest menu item is still its eponymous porky ramen. With a soup of low and slow simmered pork bones, lardo and other delights, the broth is creamy, fatty and sticky (in a really good way) crammed with bouncy, ramen noodles (made in-house) then pimped up with spring onions, burnt garlic oil, beansprouts and thick, soft slices of pork belly. It's then topped off with a seasoned soy egg. We challenge you to find us a better ramen in the capital.
Tonkotsu, 11 London locations
The thrifty, Italian soup
The Italians are nifty at using up leftovers in extremely elegant, delicious ways (think spaghetti frittata, pappa al pomodoro, panzanella) and the slightly less well-known soup aquacotta, is no exception. A cucina povera staple, its name translates as 'cooked water'. It's a clear vegetable broth made using scant vegetables, and flavoured with rosemary which grows widely around Tuscany and Lazio where this soup originates. The idea of the dish was to make stale, hard bread edible again — and as with much 'peasant' food, its simplicity is the secret to its success. Although here, at Brixton’s lovely new neighbourhood Italian restaurant, Maremma, it's pimped up with a poached hen's egg. The traditional saltless bread and beautiful Tuscan olive oil also feature.
Maremma, 36 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE
The soup smothered in cheese
When it's bone chillingly cold, it's time to bring out the big soup guns. For us, that means the French onion soup at Soho's Café Boheme. Things never change here (happily) so grab yourself a table or a seat at the bar and get stuck in to this rib-stickingly good tureen of meltingly soft onions in a rich beefy broth loaded with a generous gruyere crouton which oozes slowly into the soup. An honourable mention goes to the example at Brasserie Zedel too.
Café Boheme, 13 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JQ
The oldest Russian soup in London
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Borshtch’n’Tears in Knightsbridge is quite the experience. It's London’s oldest Russian restaurant with traditional home-style Baltic cuisine in a red candle-lit room and a crowd of regulars who enjoy the kiev and dumplings in equal measure to the karaoke and regular Russian musicians. It's been this way since the 1960s. In the summer the little courtyard is busy with shisha smokers, but come winter you can cosy up with a bowl of the restaurant's namesake soup, borshtch — a vibrant example of this traditional beetroot soup blended with a deep meaty broth, fresh dill then finished with sour cream. Order up the horseradish vodka for an authentic Russian experience.
Borshtch N Tears, 46 Beauchamp Place, SW3 1NX
The 'Jewish penicillin' soup
The chicken soup at Monty's Deli is a prime example of proper Jewish soul food; a life-affirming bowl of flavoursome chicken broth that many mothers will claim soothes all ills. Monty's version is a copy of founder Mark's grandfather's own chicken soup, which is simmered slowly over two days to deliver the right level of chicken depth. Then, a few soft carrot slices are added along with the authentic kneidlach — aka matzah balls — which are soft, light, airy dumplings perfect for soaking up golden schmaltz. Eat alongside their heavenly latkes and if you can resist their reuben to go with it you’re a better person than us.
Monty's Deli at Old Spitalfields Market, Victoria Market Halls and KERB Seven Dials
The super healthy soup
All the clean-living, clean-eating influencers went wild for bone broth a few years ago; it lives on at Daylesford’s chic organic cafes and shops. Grab a white-wooded table and tuck in to the soupier version at one of their cafes, or pick up a bottle to take home. All their broths are made from ingredients sourced from their organic farms and involve cooking down grass-fed beef or free-range chicken bones with mineral-rich seaweed anywhere from 10 to 24 hours, which they say increases the nutrient profile and allows the gelatin to be best released for an all-important dose of collagen. Or try the version on their Notting Hill menu at the moment which is chicken broth fortified with autumn greens, celery and sweetcorn.
Daylesford, four London locations, see website
A bargain bowlful of far Eastern joy soup
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When the temperature drops, a pho is often the thing to warm you up. A blend of beefy broth cooked for hours, infused with heady aromatics like star anise, ginger and garlic which is teamed with slippery, silky flat rice noodles, seasoned with fish sauce and then absolutely covered in fresh herbs, this is Vietnam’s cure-all answer to comfort food. The pho at Camberwell’s Chinese and pho shop, Van Hing, is a winner: hearty, fresh and around £7 a bowl, it's served with the traditional self-seasoning plate so you can adjust to your liking with hot chillis, lime and bean sprouts as you go. Pho fans should also check out Cay Tre, Silk Road and Co Bar for excellent examples of a classic.
Van Hing, 42 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8QZ
A chilled soup to wash down some tapas with
Mayfair's El Pirata is an old school Spanish tapas place that does all the classics, including the famed Andalusian chilled soup, gazpacho, and it does them well. Maybe it's not of the same ilk as the new breed of cool tapas places around town, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. This place has been around since the early 90s, earning a loyal Spanish following in that time, so the atmosphere is a warm and welcoming place to enjoy their special gazpacho con gambas: the traditional tomato, pepper and cucumber blend whizzed up with sherry vinegar and garlic then served with fresh juicy prawns and crudites for £7.50 (not bad in this part of town). Though it's not the most warming of soups, add in a platter of bellota iberico jamon and some padron peppers and you'll be transported to the Spanish sunshine in no time.
El Pirata, 5-6 Down Street, W1J 7AQ