When it comes to comforting, healing nourishment, a good soup is as close to a sure bet as it gets. From a great gumbo to a fabulous french onion, here are the biggest winners around town.
Pork-belly galbitang at Spoon by H
A symphony of broths—beef bone, pork bone, and vegetable—are combined in Yoonjin Hwang’s rich and revelatory short-rib soup, which is poured over beautifully unctuous pork belly. This modern Korean masterpiece, available as a regular special, comes with both rice and noodles—because why not lap up as much comfort as possible all at once? $22, 7158 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax, spoonbyh.com.
Dobin chowder at the Brothers Sushi
Mark Okuda’s brilliant riff on dobin mushi (a dashi-driven seafood soup usually made with mushrooms) and New England clam chowder is a one-of-a-kind L.A. spectacle. This creamy and luxurious soup includes clams, fish, and shrimp, and there’s the option of upgrading to king crab. $16, 21418 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, thebrotherssushi.com.
French onion soup at Petit Trois
Ludo Lefebvre’s expertly calibrated combination of big flavors and contrasting textures—gooey Emmental and Gruyère cheese atop crunchy toasted bread and veal stock with caramelized onions—is classic bistro bliss. $17, 718 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, and 13705 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, petittrois.com.
Chili at Heritage Barbecue
Whether you consider chili a soup, stew, or its own entity, it’s worth the trek to San Juan Capistrano for a smoky bowl made with brisket burnt ends, rib tips, and sausages. The chili mixes well with the restaurant’s Velveeta-free queso, which you can also just slurp up with a spoon at this point in humanity. $12, 31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, heritagecraftbbq.com.
Birria consommé at L.A. Birria
This slow-cooked beef consommé, powered by five different chiles, plus garlic, onion, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves, and more, is the definition of soul-warming whether you sip it, gulp it, or dip crunchy tacos in it. There’s also birria ramen with the consommé as a base, if you’re feeling mischievous. $1.50-$13, 2190 W. Washington Blvd., Ste. E, Harvard Heights, losangelesbirria.com.
Gumbo at Adam’s Get Down Gumbo
This unique gumbo, which involves cooking roux until it’s deeply dark, is simultaneously smokier and less greasy than what you expect from a Cajun dish. It’s loaded with chicken and andouille sausage, and there’s a pleasant hit of palate-jolting bitterness. Available at several farmers’ markets. $13, getdowngumbo.com.
Tai yuzu shio ramen at Iki Ramen
This sea bream ramen is the standout dish at a freestyle noodle shop that also excels at pork, beef, and vegan ramen. Yuzu adds refreshing brightness and a citrusy tang to a clean but umami-rich broth, which is made with fish bones. $15, 740 S. Western Ave., Ste. 116. Koreatown, ikiramen.com.
Laksa at Cassia
Bryant Ng deftly balances spiciness, sweetness, creaminess, and funk in his hearty Singaporean-style coconut-and-seafood soup with thick rice noodles. This is a soup that truly eats like a meal. $24, 1314 7th St., Santa Monica, cassiala.com.
Matzo ball soup at Brent’s Deli
A big fluffy matzo ball is served atop chicken noodle soup for a genuinely restorative double dose of nourishment, respite, and nostalgic pleasure. $9.25, 19565 Parthenia St., Northridge; and 2799 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village, brentsdeli.com.
Rhode Island Clear Chowder at Connie & Ted’s
Chopped clams, potatoes, and salt pork take center stage in this cream-free, tomato-free chowder. You can get it by itself or, if you also crave more common chowders, as part of a trio with New England and Manhattan varieties. $7-$11, 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, connieandteds.com.
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