It's Soup!

7 signature bowls of soup to warm up a chilly Austin day

7 signature bowls of soup to warm up a chilly Austin day

Junes Matzo Ball Caldo
June's matzo ball caldo is perfect for a chilly day. Photo by Annie Whitehead

It always comes as a surprise. You go to work in short sleeves thinking it's just another warm day in Austin, then, "Bam!" a cold front hits. Rather than trying to warm up by the heat of your laptop, get yourself to one of these restaurants and order a bowl of one of Austin’s best soups. Trust us. That cardigan you fashioned out of paper towels just isn’t going to work.

El Borrego de Oro
Although perhaps less known than pozole and menudo, birria — a spicy goat meat stew from Jalisco — is one of the great soups of Mexico. Lucky for Austinites, you are not likely to find a better version than at South Austin mom-and-pop El Borrego de Oro. We recommend eating it with tortilla in hand, sopping up every bit of the aromatic broth.

The neighborhood dive is one of our favorite places to get a beer after work. That they also have an amazing selection of soups makes it an essential weekday lunch stop, too. On days when we have a lighter workload, we combine our two not-so-guilty pleasures — rich broccoli beer cheese (served in a bread bowl, obviously) paired with a thick stout.

June’s All Day
What to do when you can’t decide between two of the world’s best soups? Go to McGuire Moorman Hospitality’s casual South Congress restaurant for their matzo ball caldo. The comforting soup — full of succulent poached chicken, carrots, peppered avocado, jalapeños, ears of corn, and herbs — is just the thing your mom would prescribe if you had the sniffles. Only now you can enjoy it without the side of guilt.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya
It’s no wonder that this east side favorite would make a great ramen. After all, it is owned by the same chefs that run the cult Ramen Tatsu-Ya restaurants. But Kemuri does things a little differently here, using brisket instead of pork and adding unexpected ingredients like pickled mustard greens for a soup that bridges the traditions of Texas and Japan.

Le Politique
The new downtown restaurant is all about refined brasserie basics, so naturally their menu contains one of the most iconic soups in the culinary canon. But don’t expect their French onion soup to be the salt bomb that passes at chain restaurants. Le Politique's kitchen spends time properly caramelizing the onions, tempering their sweetness with a fist of nutty Comte cheese.

Pho Saigon
Nothing is quite as warming on a chilly day as a big bowl of pho swimming in herbs, select cuts off meat, and rice noodles. Pho Saigon does it right with a delicate broth and a garden of add-ins with every order. If you are extra hungry, try the special combination with eye-round steak, well-done flank, fatty brisket, soft tendon, white omasum beef tripe, and beef meatball. This is a soup so filling you can make two meals of it.

Thai cooks are masters at balancing flavors, and few dishes showcase that skill more than tom kha gai. Sway’s version builds on the foundation of the classic chicken and coconut soup by adding hon shimeji mushroom, bamboo shoot, baby corn, snow pea, and lemongrass. But it still has every bit of the comfort.