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Daeho’s kalbitang promises to warm even the frostiest heart
Daeho/Instagram

18 Soups in San Francisco to Warm Your Weary Soul

Here, have a bowl of soup. It’ll make you feel better.

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Daeho’s kalbitang promises to warm even the frostiest heart
| Daeho/Instagram

Soup is universal comfort food, across all cuisines and countries. It's also a cure-all, whether you're laid out with the flu, nursing a cold, or just suffering from a good old-fashioned hangover (that's on you, though).

From brothy little numbers to hearty bowls of stew, there's a soup in San Francisco just waiting to save you from the cold, rain, and fog. Head to the Tenderloin for a secret pho, drop into the Wharf for a classic SF seafood stew, or head west for a Chinese classic. Any one of these 18 soups could save you from the rainy day doldrums or warm you up during a cold San Francisco night. And for all you ramen lovers out there, here's an entire map dedicated solely to San Francisco's best, most slurpable versions in one handy place.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Lazy Man’s Cioppino at Scoma's Restaurant

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Once a Pier 47 coffee shop that catered to Wharf workers, in its 55 years in business Scoma’s has transformed into one of the city’s greatest classic restaurants, with a menu of reliable favorites made with freshly-caught local seafood. Their “lazy man’s” cioppino begins with Al and Joe Scoma’s family recipe broth, a tomato base that’s packed with crab, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, seasonal fish, and calamari — so much, in fact, that it’s barely soup at all.

Clam Chowder at Sabella & La Torre

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Established as a crab stand back in 1927, Sabella & La Torre transformed into a full-service restaurant some time around World War II. All this to say that they’ve had plenty of town to nail their clam chowder recipes — they offer a cream-based Boston and a hearty tomato Manhattan, for folks who have yet to pick a team. There’s a bread bowl option, too, for those who’ve realized that that dish is one thing tourists get right. They also have one of the best lunch deals around, with half a shrimp salad and a cup of chowder for only $12.

The Cheese School of San Francisco

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These days, the classes at the Cheese School are virtual, but its tomato soup remains comfortingly IRL. Roasted Roma tomatoes and roasted garlic are coked in a — brace for it — Parmigiano Reggiano broth. For $5 you can get a cup on the side, and for $9 you can score a bowl big enugh to last you a couple days.

Hot and Sour soup at Hunan Home's Restaurant

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Since 1983, this Chinatown classic has served parties large and small, single to-go orders and banquets, which means there’s always a pot of soup ready to dish out for hungry diners. Their hot & sour soup, packed with mushrooms, bean curd, and pork, is one of the city’s most reliable, but if it’s not to your taste, the sizzling rise (shrimp and chicken with a fried rice crust) soup also makes for a soul-satisfying bowl.

Caldo Verde at Grubstake Diner

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Grubstake has long been a favorite destination for fans of caldo verde, the green Portuguese soup composed of potatoes, kale, and linguica sausage.

Kalbitang at Daeho Kalbijim & Beef Soup

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This Japantown favorite offers four different takes on the beef rib soup known as kalbitang, including an extra spicy version and a “premium” version with abalone and shrimp. Even its standard version can be customized with a dizzying array of add-ons like purple rice and cucumber kimchi.

Pho Ga (F9) at Turtle Tower

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The not-so-secret secret menu at Turtle Tower is a soup lover's delight. Order F9, the special chicken, which comes with secret toppings. Or, go with the regular version— you won't be disappointed.

Any Soup at Tu Lan

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Asking a Tu Lan fan to pick the restaurant’s best soup is a thorny affair, as each dish on this classic SoMa restaurant’s menu has a slew of assertive advocates. While almost all of its soups rely on pork, shrimp, or chicken for flavor, its vegetarian bún chay is of special note: heavy with noodles, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and broccoli, its so packed with flavor that non-meat-eaters will travel to the neighborhood from miles away to score a bowl.

Lentil Soup at Bistro Mediteranneo

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Inside an unassuming Outer Richmond bodega, Bistro Mediteranneo is serving some of the most fundamentally warming soup around. Made with red lentils, rice, parsley, carrot, and onion, the pot goes on first thing in the morning and bubbles all day. That means that by dinnertime, its a concentrated bowl of flavor and spices — and all without any animal products, at all.

Samusa Soup at Pagan Restaurant

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Nearly every Burmese restaurant in San Francisco offers a samusa soup, but Pagan’s is one of the best, with crispy falafel bits and flaky samusa crumbles packed separately for takeout customers to pour into flavorful broth at their leisure. With toothsome chunks of potato and a healthy serving of lentils, this soup — especially if ordered with a salad (we recommend the tea leaf) makes for an excellent main dish, not just a side.

Borsch at Cinderella Bakery & Cafe

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This classic Russian cafe’s take on borsch is served hot, with chopped vegetables, shredded cabbage, cubed potatoes, beets lurking below its tomato broth surface. Served with a dollop of sour cream, its one of the most delicious ways to dirty a white shirt in all of SF — and since it’s only $6, you still have plenty to spare for dry cleaning.

Tomato Egg Flower Soup at San Tung

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San Tung is known for its dry fried chicken and shrimp, but savvy diners know that its wettest dishes are some of its best. Its tomato egg flower soup is a heartier and more flavorful version of the egg drop soup popular in Chinese diners across the U.S. This one takes the standard chicken and egg broth, mixes in tomatoes, then adds shrimp, mushrooms, peas, and spinach to turn this classic side into a meal.

French Onion Soup at Chez Maman

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Chez Maman’s take on the classic French soup doesn’t deviate much from the norm, but why mess with a classic? Thick with caramelized onions and topped with melty gruyere cheese, this is a soup to be reckoned with.

Pozole at Gallardo's

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There’s room for more than one pozole on this list. Rich, red pork broth surrounds islands of tender pork, and firm hominy in this flavorful Mission soup. It’s topped with all of the traditional crunchies — cabbage, radishes — with a squeeze of lime to brighten things up. It’s a perfect soup for any weather, and any occasion.

Khao Soi at Kin Khao Dogpatch

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Kin Khao’s versions of just about every Thai dish are craveable, and the khao soi is no exception. Tasty egg noodles swim in a flavorful chicken curry broth, accompanied by pickled mustard greens and spicy chili oil. There’s also a particularly good vegetarian version made with tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy.

Pozole at SanJalisco Restaurant

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Family owned since it was founded in the 1950s, SanJalisco (which before 2010 was known as Los Jarritos) is one of the most venerable Mexican spots in the Mission. And who makes better soup than family, right? The restaurant boasts a rotating menu of soups, and Friday and the weekend is when to score its pozole rojo de puerco, a pork version of the hominy-laden classic.

Kimchi Soup at Toyose

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In these pandemic times, the long waits previously associated with Sunset cult classic spot Toyose are no longer an issue — and their full menu of Korean dishes is yours within minutes. That means a massive bowl of its sour-and-spicy kimchi soup, laden with pork, tofu, and chili paste, is within reach with no lingering required.

Matzo Ball Soup at Wise Sons

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They don't call it "Jewish Penicillin" for nothing— this soup is good for both body and soul. Lovely, clear broth and flavorful, toothsome matzoh balls make this one of the best versions around.

Lazy Man’s Cioppino at Scoma's Restaurant

Once a Pier 47 coffee shop that catered to Wharf workers, in its 55 years in business Scoma’s has transformed into one of the city’s greatest classic restaurants, with a menu of reliable favorites made with freshly-caught local seafood. Their “lazy man’s” cioppino begins with Al and Joe Scoma’s family recipe broth, a tomato base that’s packed with crab, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, seasonal fish, and calamari — so much, in fact, that it’s barely soup at all.

Clam Chowder at Sabella & La Torre

Established as a crab stand back in 1927, Sabella & La Torre transformed into a full-service restaurant some time around World War II. All this to say that they’ve had plenty of town to nail their clam chowder recipes — they offer a cream-based Boston and a hearty tomato Manhattan, for folks who have yet to pick a team. There’s a bread bowl option, too, for those who’ve realized that that dish is one thing tourists get right. They also have one of the best lunch deals around, with half a shrimp salad and a cup of chowder for only $12.

The Cheese School of San Francisco

These days, the classes at the Cheese School are virtual, but its tomato soup remains comfortingly IRL. Roasted Roma tomatoes and roasted garlic are coked in a — brace for it — Parmigiano Reggiano broth. For $5 you can get a cup on the side, and for $9 you can score a bowl big enugh to last you a couple days.

Hot and Sour soup at Hunan Home's Restaurant

Since 1983, this Chinatown classic has served parties large and small, single to-go orders and banquets, which means there’s always a pot of soup ready to dish out for hungry diners. Their hot & sour soup, packed with mushrooms, bean curd, and pork, is one of the city’s most reliable, but if it’s not to your taste, the sizzling rise (shrimp and chicken with a fried rice crust) soup also makes for a soul-satisfying bowl.

Caldo Verde at Grubstake Diner

Grubstake has long been a favorite destination for fans of caldo verde, the green Portuguese soup composed of potatoes, kale, and linguica sausage.

Kalbitang at Daeho Kalbijim & Beef Soup

This Japantown favorite offers four different takes on the beef rib soup known as kalbitang, including an extra spicy version and a “premium” version with abalone and shrimp. Even its standard version can be customized with a dizzying array of add-ons like purple rice and cucumber kimchi.

Pho Ga (F9) at Turtle Tower

The not-so-secret secret menu at Turtle Tower is a soup lover's delight. Order F9, the special chicken, which comes with secret toppings. Or, go with the regular version— you won't be disappointed.

Any Soup at Tu Lan

Asking a Tu Lan fan to pick the restaurant’s best soup is a thorny affair, as each dish on this classic SoMa restaurant’s menu has a slew of assertive advocates. While almost all of its soups rely on pork, shrimp, or chicken for flavor, its vegetarian bún chay is of special note: heavy with noodles, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and broccoli, its so packed with flavor that non-meat-eaters will travel to the neighborhood from miles away to score a bowl.

Lentil Soup at Bistro Mediteranneo

Inside an unassuming Outer Richmond bodega, Bistro Mediteranneo is serving some of the most fundamentally warming soup around. Made with red lentils, rice, parsley, carrot, and onion, the pot goes on first thing in the morning and bubbles all day. That means that by dinnertime, its a concentrated bowl of flavor and spices — and all without any animal products, at all.

Samusa Soup at Pagan Restaurant

Nearly every Burmese restaurant in San Francisco offers a samusa soup, but Pagan’s is one of the best, with crispy falafel bits and flaky samusa crumbles packed separately for takeout customers to pour into flavorful broth at their leisure. With toothsome chunks of potato and a healthy serving of lentils, this soup — especially if ordered with a salad (we recommend the tea leaf) makes for an excellent main dish, not just a side.

Borsch at Cinderella Bakery & Cafe

This classic Russian cafe’s take on borsch is served hot, with chopped vegetables, shredded cabbage, cubed potatoes, beets lurking below its tomato broth surface. Served with a dollop of sour cream, its one of the most delicious ways to dirty a white shirt in all of SF — and since it’s only $6, you still have plenty to spare for dry cleaning.

Tomato Egg Flower Soup at San Tung

San Tung is known for its dry fried chicken and shrimp, but savvy diners know that its wettest dishes are some of its best. Its tomato egg flower soup is a heartier and more flavorful version of the egg drop soup popular in Chinese diners across the U.S. This one takes the standard chicken and egg broth, mixes in tomatoes, then adds shrimp, mushrooms, peas, and spinach to turn this classic side into a meal.

French Onion Soup at Chez Maman

Chez Maman’s take on the classic French soup doesn’t deviate much from the norm, but why mess with a classic? Thick with caramelized onions and topped with melty gruyere cheese, this is a soup to be reckoned with.

Pozole at Gallardo's

There’s room for more than one pozole on this list. Rich, red pork broth surrounds islands of tender pork, and firm hominy in this flavorful Mission soup. It’s topped with all of the traditional crunchies — cabbage, radishes — with a squeeze of lime to brighten things up. It’s a perfect soup for any weather, and any occasion.

Khao Soi at Kin Khao Dogpatch

Kin Khao’s versions of just about every Thai dish are craveable, and the khao soi is no exception. Tasty egg noodles swim in a flavorful chicken curry broth, accompanied by pickled mustard greens and spicy chili oil. There’s also a particularly good vegetarian version made with tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy.

Related Maps

Pozole at SanJalisco Restaurant

Family owned since it was founded in the 1950s, SanJalisco (which before 2010 was known as Los Jarritos) is one of the most venerable Mexican spots in the Mission. And who makes better soup than family, right? The restaurant boasts a rotating menu of soups, and Friday and the weekend is when to score its pozole rojo de puerco, a pork version of the hominy-laden classic.

Kimchi Soup at Toyose

In these pandemic times, the long waits previously associated with Sunset cult classic spot Toyose are no longer an issue — and their full menu of Korean dishes is yours within minutes. That means a massive bowl of its sour-and-spicy kimchi soup, laden with pork, tofu, and chili paste, is within reach with no lingering required.

Matzo Ball Soup at Wise Sons

They don't call it "Jewish Penicillin" for nothing— this soup is good for both body and soul. Lovely, clear broth and flavorful, toothsome matzoh balls make this one of the best versions around.

Related Maps