50 States of Soup
Chowder, chili, bisque, pho and more — here are 50 ladle-worthy soups from coast to coast.
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Green Chile Pork Pozole at Sierra Bonita Grill: Arizona
This Southwestern state has a substantial Mexican influence in the food, including excellent pozole, a Mexican stew made with hominy. The version at Sierra Bonita in Phoenix, named for the historic Arizona ranch, is verdant with tomatillos and jalapenos. It is studded with pork, cabbage and hominy, and is topped with onions and cilantro.
She Crab Soup at Soby's: South Carolina
South Carolina is famous for its food, including low-country classics like shrimp and grits and seafood boils. She crab soup is another area classic. Try it at Soby's, an institution in the town since 1992. A hybrid of bisque and chowder, the dish is made with locally caught crabs and enhanced with dry sherry and crab roe.
Go to: Soby's
Black Bean Soup at Columbia Restaurant: Florida
Adapted from their grandmother's recipe, the owners of Columbia Restaurant serve up an authentic bowl of Cuban black bean soup — frijoles negros — that has become well-known amongst Floridians looking for an authentic Cuban meal. The rustic, completely vegetarian soup is made with beans, green peppers, onions and a variety of seasonings, served on a bed of rice and topped with raw Spanish onions.
Go to: Columbia Restaurant
Tomato Soup with Burrata at Picnic Social: Vermont
Nothing goes together better than ruby-red tomatoes and creamy burrata cheese. That's why this Stowe restaurant offers a tomato soup that includes the soft fresh mozzarella that comes from local Maple Brook Farm in nearby Bennington. The soup is topped with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chives, and it's served with a side of grilled toast that's perfect for dunking.
Go to: Picnic Social
Cheddar Ale Soup at The Bee: Colorado
Colorado is known for many things, including hiking, skiing and really great microbrews. At the Golden Bee, a traditional Irish pub in Colorado Springs, they pour a liberal amount of Bee Hive Beer from nearby Bristol Brewing Company into a pot along with pounds of white cheddar, mustard, vegetables and a kick of Tabasco. The resulting cheddar-ale soup is garnished with caraway seeds, rye croutons, minced chives and even more cheese. It’s ideal for staving off winter chill.
One-One-One at Felix's Fish Camp: Alabama
The Gulf is full of incredible seafood and Felix’s Fish Camp on Mobile Bay makes it their mission to showcase that, even in their soups. The one-one-one is a sampler of their three famous soups, which are all made with seafood sourced right from the gulf. Demi cups are filled with meaty crab soup, hearty seafood gumbo and a rich turtle soup. Grab a seat by the windows at the right time of day and you’ll catch a picturesque sunset over the water. You may even catch a few alligators hanging out.
Bookbinder Soup at Hugo's Frog Bar: Illinois
In 1893 Charles Bookbinder created this iconic namesake soup in Philadelphia. It somehow made its way to Chicago, where it became an iconic inclusion at the Drake Hotel's now-closed Cape Cod Room and at Hugo's Frog Bar, where it's been a menu favorite since opening day. The soup is traditionally made with snapping turtle, but Hugo's puts its own twist on the dish by using fresh Lake Superior white fish. The tomato-based soup also has vegetables and a kick of Louisiana hot sauce.
Go to: Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House
Buffalo-Style Turkey Chili at La Soupe: Ohio
The best soup in Cincinnati, actually doesn’t come from a restaurant, it comes from a non-profit. Industry vet Suzy DeYoung started her 900-square-food La Soupe to solve two major issues in her city: food waste and hunger. The restaurant uses food that would otherwise be thrown away to create nutritious soups that are both sold and donated to non-profits and food-insecure families. As a byproduct, locals have lined up to purchase Suzy’s incredible soup combinations like broccoli-pistachio, chili and curried butternut squash — they change with the food scraps — while they get a sneak peek into the kitchen to see all of the good she’s doing for the community.
Corn Chowder at the Silver Dollar Bar and Grill: Wyoming
Those in the know make their way to the Silver Dollar Bar and Grill in the Wort Hotel for live music, dancing and a bowl of the joint's famous corn chowder. Taking advantage of the state's vast ranches and farmland, chefs fill the chowder with corn kernels, chunks of potato and bacon, and there's a layer of melted Cheddar cheese over the top of the bowl.
Go to: Silver Dollar Bar & Grill
Potato Leek Soup at Goldfinch: Iowa
Iowa is rich in farmland, and Goldfinch takes full advantage, not just closely partnering with Sunstead Farms but also hiring one of the farm's owners as the restaurant's culinary director. The potato leek soup is a great example of their synergy. Made with russet potatoes and leeks (when in season) from the Waukee farm, the soup also includes housemade chicken stock, olive oil and a dash of dry French vermouth.
Go to: Goldfinch
Jersey Green Clam Chowder at The Bonney Read: New Jersey
Named after two of the most-favorite female pirates in history, The Bonney Read — an Asbury Park chowder house — serves sustainable seafood from an open kitchen. The Jersey Green Clam Chowder gets its bright, verdant color from a parsley-spinach puree that's added right before serving. The chowder itself starts off with a standard base of local Sandy Hook clams, potatoes and pork, with a spicy, Jersey-Italian addition of peppers, fennel sausage and parsnip.
Go to: The Bonney Read
New England Clam Chowder at Legal Seafood: Massachusetts
New England conjures thoughts of summer lobster rolls and oysters on the half shell; in winter, it also means a piping bowl of creamy clam chowder. Legal Seafood's version has become so famous they now ship it all over the world. The soup starts with a cream base sprinkled with herbs and dotted with fresh Cape Cod clams. Served with oyster crackers, it's hearty enough to help warm the coldest New England winter.
Go to: Legal Sea Foods
Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl at Old Fisherman's Grotto: California
California may be known for its sunshine, but in San Francisco, nicknamed Fog City, residents love their soup, particularly with seafood. Cioppino is a popular order, but chowder in a bread bowl adds in the additional NorCal component of classic California bread. Try it at cafes like Boudin, or head down the coast to Monterey, where Old Fisherman's Grotto sits on the pier with Pacific views.
Go to: Old Fisherman's Grotto
Seafood Chowder at the Bear Tooth Grill: Alaska
This Alaska megacomplex includes a dinner-and-a-movie "theatrepub," a brewery, a casual pizzeria and the Bear Tooth Grill, where seafood chowder has been a house favorite since opening day. The kitchen team works with local Alaska farmers to source seafood, including Alaskan wild-caught cod and a variety of seasonal local seafood. A drizzle of Tabasco gives the broth a subtle kick.
Minestrone Soup at Buddy's Pizza: Michigan
Buddy’s may be known first for Detroit-style pizza, but it’s the chunky Minestrone soup that has been on the menu since day one. In 1946, Connie Piccinato brought this family recipe to the restaurant and it’s been a hit ever since. The minestrone is thicker than your average bowl of the Italian soup and is loaded with chunks of zucchini, carrots, cannellini beans, celery, onions, potatoes and macaroni noodles.
Go to: Buddy's Pizza
Georgia: Frogmore Stew at 5 & 10: Georgia
Hugh Acheson's flagship Athens restaurant offers a modern take on Southern cuisine, including a low-country boil, also known as Frogmore Stew. This version uses wild Gulf shrimp and andouille sausage with a smattering of grilled corn and chunks of fingerling potatoes peeking out of the tomato broth. It is served with well-toasted crostini for soaking up the broth.
Go to: 5 & 10
Tomato Artichoke Soup at Café Patachou: Indiana
It's hard to visit Indianapolis and not feel the impact of what Martha Hoover created with her healthy cafes dotted across town. A staple on the menu is the tomato artichoke soup, an original since 1989, made with fresh tomatoes, fresh artichokes and heavy cream, then topped with Parmesan cheese and housemade croutons.
Go to: Cafe Patahcou
Matzo Ball Soup at Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop: New York
There are few better places for a good bowl of soup than a New York deli, and there are few better bowls than classic matzo ball soup. At retro Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop in Manhattan's Flatiron neighborhood, swivel stools are the ideal seat to try this banner version. Noodles and sliced carrots bob around the puffy, soft matzo balls in aromatic, Grandma-approved chicken broth. For the ultimate experience, pair it with an egg salad sandwich and a lime rickey.
Go to: Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
Tennessee Tonkotsu at Otaku Ramen: Tennessee
Nashville may more frequently conjure images of Southern stews and chilis, but Chef Sarah Gavigan found that Tennessee has quite a few qualifications as a prime place to serve Japanese slurping noodles. Nashville sits on almost the same latitude as Tokyo, shiso actually grows wild in middle Tennessee, and, of course, the state is home to many breeds of heritage pigs. Gavigan takes the pork bones she gets from these small regional farms to create the rich broth in her Tennessee Tonkutsu, which is studded with an egg, shreds of pork confit, woodear mushrooms, scallions, black garlic oil (Mayu) and house-made ramen noodles.
Beans and Cornbread at The Grill: West Virginia
What started as an Appalachian home-cooked dinner has become a diner staple in West Virginia. Ham hock or bacon adds pork flavor to a classic bowl of pinto beans — often topped with chopped onions — with a mandatory side of cornbread for soaking up the liquid. Charleston dive-diner The Grill has been touted as having one of the best bowls in the state.
Go to: The Grill
Brisket Ramen at The Granary 'Cue and Brew: Texas
Texas is all about the barbecue, and at the Granary, that means it even appears in ramen. This version is a tribute to the Lone Star state: The brown ale noodles are made with the house-brewed brown ale, burnt ends are chopped from the brisket to stud each bowl, and shallots are dusted with a barbecue rub. All of that mingles in a shoyu broth (made with barbecued pork necks and chicken bones) with crispy collard greens and an onsen egg.
Elk Chili at Gretchen's: Idaho
Combining the West's love of game meat and rib-sticking, cowboy-style chili, this bowl is hearty enough to satisfy anyone heading out to ski Sun Valley or take in the mountain air. Made with chunks of elk, ancho chiles and great Northern beans, it is smoky and satisfying, topped with white Cheddar and green onion.
Go to: Gretchen's
Duck Minestrone at Louie's: New Hampshire
New Hampshire's artsy, seaside town of Portsmouth is home to history, boutiques and some amazing food, including fresh seafood from the coast, as well as organic farms and sustainable butchers. Louie's, an Italian farm-to-fork, restaurant, takes full advantage of the local bounty, exemplified in the Duck Minestrone. The chefs start with a classic Italian minestrone, add in local duck, then give it a Southern twist by mixing in black-eyed peas and kale with other more traditional vegetables from nearby farms. Each bowl is topped with a homemade biscuit and loads of chives.
Go to: Louie's
Beer Cheese Soup at The Horse and Plow: Wisconsin
Wisconsin is proud of its cheese, serving well-above-average cheese on nearly every table and at convenience stores. So it should come as no surprise that the most-popular state soup puts dairy at the forefront. Beer cheese soup is a hearty state tradition. At The Horse and Plow, it's made with three kinds of locally made cheese — Cheddar, Swiss and pepper Jack — cut with Wisconsin-brewed beer, heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco for kick. The rich, velveteen bowl is topped with a few seasoned croutons to add a little crunch.
Go to: The Horse & Plow
Pork Soup at The Reiger: Missouri
Pork is a staple in the Heartlands, and one that is used often at this Kansas City restaurant. This riff on a French onion soup starts with a rich pork garlic broth and shredded pork confit. It’s topped with a pork skin “crouton” and broiled gruyere cheese. Angostura bitters and sherry vinegar add a touch of acid. Once a special on the opening menu, it is now a menu staple and the only dish on the menu that never changes.
Harvest Chicken Ramen at Ugly Duck Street Food: Nebraska
Japanese street food meets Midwestern Americana at this Omaha restaurant, which serves Harvest Chicken Ramen. The hearty dish starts with an Asian-inspired broth that they call a "chork" broth, made with a mix of locally sourced chicken and pork. Classic ramen noodles are added, then topped with a crispy braised quarter of chicken, a few soft-boiled eggs, mustard greens and pickled Nebraskan corn.
Oregon Truffle and Celeriac Soup: Oregon
Italy and Australia may dominate the truffle news, but Oregon is actually home to its own version of the fungi, just as fragrant but less expensive. Olympia Provisions, often known for its hearty charcuterie, creates a delicate soup with local white or black truffles and celeriac root; it's topped with a sprinkling of croutons and chives.
Go to: Olympia Provisions
Duck Gumbo at Sac-a-lait: Louisiana
Housed in an old cotton mill in New Orleans' Warehouse District, Sac-a-lait is a neighborhood restaurant designed and built completely by the chefs and their families. The menu is highly influenced by farming, hunting and fishing, with sections that reflect each. A menu staple is the rotating gumbo. The duck-based gumbo is made with confit duck leg, housemade hunter's sausage, filé powder, a scoop of whipped duck egg potato salad and, finally, a boiled duck egg on top.
Go to: Sac-a-Lait
Haddock Chowder at Dolphin Marina and Restaurant: Maine
The views at Dolphin Marina should give a clue as to the specialty dishes on the menu. Open seasonally, the restaurant serves excellent seafood, including haddock chowder served in a dining area with views of Casco Bay. The chowder is studded with large flakes of local haddock paired with clams, potato, onion and a touch of cream. The bowl is served with another Maine delight: the blueberry muffin.
Go to: Dolphin Marina & Restaurant
Butternut Squash Soup at the Washington School House Hotel: Utah
Formerly a schoolhouse, this historical building is now a hotel and restaurant, serving warming American dishes to hungry skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. During ski season, the butternut squash soup is a favorite, brightened with a swirl of chive oil and topped with thyme and a smidge of creme fraiche for extra creaminess.
Cream of Tomato Soup at 4Bs: Montana
Mention tomato soup in Montana and most people will get reminiscent about 4B's legendary tomato soup. The handful of restaurants closed in 2007 but recently reopened under new ownership, with the famous soup on the menu. The tomato soup at this no-frills diner is rich and creamy, made with heavy cream, real butter, chicken broth and canned tomatoes.
Go to: 4Bs
Wild Rice Soup at Macy's Lakeshore Grill: Minnesota
Minnesotans love their wild rice; it's their state grain, after all. The dark grain (that's not actually rice) shows up in many of their dishes, but the most-popular place is in soup. One of the most-popular bowls was developed at Oak Grill. Though that restaurant has closed, Macy's makes the soup using the classic recipe and serves it at Lakeshore Grill. The piping hot bowl starts with a creamy mushroom base filled with chunks of chicken, wild rice and a hint of sherry; it's topped with a sprinkle of almonds.
Go to: Lakeshore Grill
Chicken Pot Pie Soup at Soup Thyme: Connecticut
What was once a Connecticut Chowdafest-winning soup is now a mainstay at this casual cafe. The restaurant typically makes 20 to 25 gallons of the soup daily, alongside a rotating selection of other filling broths. This creamy concoction resembles a hearty pot pie, with pulled chicken and chunks of celery and carrots. It it topped with pieces of pie crust and fresh-chopped parsley for the full pot pie effect.
Go to: Soup Thyme
Mushroom Soup at White Dog Cafe: Pennsylvania
This seasonal restaurant, popular with students at the University of Pennsylvania, sources all of its ingredients from farms no more than 50 miles away. The signature mushroom soup is made with mushrooms that come from neighboring Kennett Square. The earthy soup is topped with a drizzle of white truffle oil, a dollop of creme fraiche and snips of fresh chives.
Go to: White Dog Cafe
Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup at Guy Savoy: Nevada
Vegas is all about indulgence, and its soups are no different. Famed chef Guy Savoy whips up an earthy and rich soup with artichoke and black truffle for the soup equivalent of a jackpot. Creamy in texture, the broth actually contains no cream or milk; chefs slow-cook artichoke hearts for three hours to maximize flavor, then blend them to achieve the rich consistency. For added decadence, the soup is topped with a shaving of black truffles and served with mushroom brioche.
Oxtail Soup at Asahi Grill: Hawaii
Move over, chicken soup. In Hawaii, oxtail soup is the ultimate under-the-weather medicine. Made with tender oxtails boiled for hours in a broth made with various Chinese herbs, the dish soup has become a staple soup in local culture. The most-popular version may be at Honolulu's Asahi Grill, where many patrons add a side of rice or spice it up with ginger or shoyu.
Go to: Asahi Grill
Sunchoke Soup at Newport Grill: Kansas
The national flower of Kansas is the sunflower, which provided inspiration for the sunchoke soup (sunchokes resemble sunflowers when in bloom). The silky soup inherits the sunchokes' earthy and sweet flavor, with white wine, leeks and celery to build flavor, and it gets a hint of umami from the mushrooms and bacon. The soup is garnished with hazelnut pesto, sunchoke chips, celery leaf and chopped bacon.
Go to: Newport Grill
Green Chile Stew at Frontier: New Mexico
New Mexicans love their chiles, and green chile is a near-ubiquitous sauce, topping most every food — burgers, pizzas, scrambled eggs and more. Get a bowl of pork-chile stew to best experience the flavors. Frontier, a quick-serve Albuquerque joint, serves green chile over enchiladas and offers hearty bowls of the stew in small, medium and large portions.
Go to: Frontier Restaurant
Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup at Hammontree's Grilled Cheese: Arkansas
Grilled cheese may be the main event at Hammontree's Grilled Cheese, with more than a dozen varieties on the menu, but its partner-in-crime bowl of tomato-basil soup is equally delightful. Those who live in Arkansas love the tomato — it's the state fruit and vegetable — and the fact that this restaurant sources the tomatoes from local farmers markets whenever possible increases the appeal.
Go to: Hammontree's Grilled Cheese
Knoephla Soup at Sit Down and Eat: North Dakota
Though few outside North Dakota have even heard of knoephla soup, it's a favorite throughout the state. A German version of chicken and dumplings, the lumpy yellow soup features a buttery chicken broth, tiny gnocchi-style dumplings and chunks of potato. It's available at restaurants throughout the state, but it's perhaps best at the Sit Down and Eat chain of '50s-style diners.
Go to: Sit Down and Eat
Burgoo at Moonlite Bar-B-Q: Kentucky
With origins dating back to when home cooks would stew their hunted meats, burgoo has evolved into a Kentucky staple. Look for the dish at Churchill Downs or Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, or head for the iconic Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, where diners can buy the mutton-based stew by the gallon.
Go to: Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn
Pho at Pho Lien Hoa: Oklahoma
Home to a large Vietnamese population, Oklahoma benefits from herbaceous Vietnamese dishes that use the state's excellent beef. Few dishes showcase the superstar combination better than pho, a noodle soup best enjoyed at Oklahoma City's Pho Lien Hoa. The dish is made with fragrant beef broth, a choice of protein and rice noodles; it's served with a plate of traditional garnishes like lime wedges, basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos and saw leaf.
Go to: Pho Lien Hoa
Lemon Pepper Clam Soup at Infinite Soups: Washington
It's not unusual to see a line around the block to get soup from this small shop, where more than a dozen interesting soups are ladled daily. There are many Washingtonian favorites — including seasonal buffalo-blackberry, and chanterelle with hazelnuts, but the year-round pick that keeps people clamoring for more is the lemon-pepper-clam soup. The combination is made with clams found in the Pacific Northwest studding a creamy lemony base cut with a hearty grind of black pepper.
Go to: Infinite Soups
Quahog Chowder at Chair 5: Rhode Island
The word "quahog" may sound silly, but these hard-shell clams from the Atlantic Ocean are serious business, especially in Rhode Island. To make Chair 5's popular Quahog Chowder, Chef Justin Perdue takes Rhode Island tradition and gives it a slightly Asian twist. Clams and whelks (sea snails) are the base for the creamy chowder, which is topped with celery and bonito flakes. Add house chipotle-chive oyster crackers for an additional kick.
Go to: Chair 5
Tatanka Stew at Laughing Water Restaurant: South Dakota
Many visitors to the historic Crazy Horse Memorial detour to Laughing Water for refreshments. At the base of the mountain, the restaurant has beautiful views. Order the Tatanka Stew, made with slow-cooked local buffalo from the Black Hills simmered with peas, potatoes, carrots, pearl and green onions. The soup is served with a traditional Indian Fry Bread for sopping up the last few drops.
Go to: Laughing Water Restaurant
Gumbo at Mary Mahoney's: Mississippi
Mississippi draws on its coastal setting to source supremely fresh seafood for its most-iconic dishes. Few rival gumbo, perhaps best enjoyed at the half-century-old Mary Mahoney's on the Gulf Coast. The gumbo at Mary Mahoney's is full of shrimp, crabmeat and oysters, with added richness from bacon drippings. In classic gumbo fashion, it's studded with diced okra and a scoop of rice.
Maryland Crab Soup at Mama's on the Half Shell: Maryland
Mama's opened because its owners wanted to bring the feel and flavor of a real Maryland seafood house back to Baltimore, and they've succeeded. The menu is full of raw, grilled, fried and pan-seared seafood selections, as well as some killer authentic chowders. Perhaps the best is the Maryland crab soup, a tomato-based broth laden with Old Bay and topped with a ton of crabmeat. Peeking out from below the broth are two shelled crab claws.
Go to: Mama's on the Half Shell
Seafood Chowder at Catch 31: Virginia
Enjoying fresh seafood Oceanside is the best way to do it. This Virginia Beach boardwalk locale dishes up its finest seafood selections in a tomato-based seafood chowder that highlights seasonal fish and shellfish, alongside chunks of red and green peppers. Grilled crostini round out the dish.
Go to: Catch 31
Pumpkin Mushroom Soup at Back Burner: Delaware
Since the 1980s, this Delaware restaurant and tavern has lured customers from throughout the region. It has several beloved menu items, but few have developed the following of the pumpkin-mushroom soup. Honey adds a touch of sweetness to the pumpkin, but it's balanced by the earthy mushrooms. Each bowl is topped with sour cream, croutons and chives.
Farmers' Market Stew at Kimbap Cafe: North Carolina
Korean food meets Southern influence at this Raleigh cafe, where you'll find that over half of all the ingredients come from local sources. The Farmers' Market Stew is a prime example of this: Chefs use their farmers market goods to fill the spicy 12-hour broth with seasonal greens and shiitake mushrooms alongside handmade noodles, kimchi and a six-minute egg.
Go to: Kimbap Cafe