[Photograph: Michael Nagrant]

One thing that can temper he icy sheets of Chicago's blustery winters, where Lake Michigan squalls and sharp winds rip between skyscrapers, is the perfect bowl of soup. There have been many suitors over the years including the sultry all-spice perfumed chili at Ramova Grill, the beefy Pho at Pho 888, and Bruce Sherman's perennial sweet corn and thyme garnished with frog legs.

This year's contender, however, is the Hot and Sour soup from Bill Kim's Belly Shack featuring mineral-tinged chunks of hominy, silken shards of chicken and a successful game of brinksmanship with the cumin and salt shakers. It's less Chinese and more Mexican, in fact so Mexican, Rick Bayless could add it to his line-up of caldos at Xoco. In fact, I think it's better than any of the more Asian-style soups at Kim's other more soup driven spot, Urban Belly. The limey-tinged corn vapors hovering over the bowl, the layers of flavor, and droplets of golden fat at the top of the broth make this the best bowl of pozole-style soup I've ever had.

Belly Shack

1912 N Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)
773-252-1414; bellyshack.com

About the author: Michael Nagrant writes for Serious Eats from Chicago, where he also publishes Hungry magazine. Michael never met an organ meat he didn't like. He hopes to meet many more.


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