Slideshow: Staff Picks: What's Your Favorite Soup in Chicago?

Birria en Barro at Birriera Zaragoza
Birria en Barro at Birriera Zaragoza

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Whether it's 110 or 10 below out, chances are I'm ordering my birria in a bowl (barro) at Birriera Zaragoza. As Nick pointed out, the spot is known for its lightly sauced Tatemada style birria—but with a broth this good, can you blame me for wanting a whole bowlful? Request the caveman-approved pistola, customize the consommé with the onion, cilantro, dried chili, and hot sauce garnishes, and get ready to slurp seasonal depression goodbye." Joe Roy

Birrieria Zaragoza, 4852 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60632 (map); 773-523-3700;

Hot & Sour Soup at Belly Shack
Hot & Sour Soup at Belly Shack

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"I've been in love with this soup for a while now, but can you blame me? I mean, it's like Bill Kim created this soup specifically for me, fusing my two favorite cuisines, Mexican and Chinese, into one stunning new creation. Each slurp is hearty and satisfying, while at the same time staying dynamic and vibrant. In other words, this is my cold weather cure, and it hasn't let me down yet." Nick Kindelsperger

Belly Shack‎, 1912 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map), 773-252-1414

Matzo Ball Gumbo at Inspiration Kitchens
Matzo Ball Gumbo at Inspiration Kitchens

[Photograph: Matt Kirouac]

"I don't eat a lot of soup, unless of course I get violently ill in public and need to spend the subsequent two days hiding from the world in shame, consuming nothing but nourishing broth. Of the few hearty soups I actively crave, the matzo ball gumbo at Inspiration Kitchens stands out as a recent favorite. Because obviously. Laced with chicken and andouille sausage, the soup combines two of my favorites in one convenient bowl of comfort supremacy. The unlikely duo works really well, with the doughy matzo ball flaking off into the spicy, meaty stew beneath, soaking up the pungent goodness like a sponge." Matt Kirouac

Inspiration Kitchens, 4715 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640 (map); 773-275-0626

Pozole Verde at Pueblo Nuevo
Pozole Verde at Pueblo Nuevo

[Photograph: Titus Ruscitti]

"Since I recently named my 'favorite' bowl of soup in Chicago in this recent feature, I'll throw out another great option. This one is found in Portage Park at an unassuming place called Pueblo Nuevo. While everything I've tried here, from the complimentary chips and salsa to the tacos, has been great, it's the bowl of pozole that keeps me coming back. They do a verde version with chicken that has a wonderfully potent broth that reaches maximum satisfaction when you add everything from the garnish plate into the bowl. Served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the $7.50 special can easily make for a meal for two." Titus Ruscitti

Pueblo Nuevo, 4342 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60634 (map); 773-283-8058

Celery Root Soup at Lula Cafe
Celery Root Soup at Lula Cafe

The celery root soup is currently not on the menu, but Amber recently tried the wild mushroom and beer bisque—pictured here moments before the broth was poured on. [Photograph: Amber Gibson]

"I spent a long time trying to think about what my favorite soup in the city was. And then it dawned on me—it's that celery root soup I had three years ago from Lula! It's not often you can remember a dish you ate three years ago, but I still dream about that soup. Lula's menu rotates seasonally and often, so that soup may have only existed during a few short weeks in the winter of 2011, but it made me want to go back there for soup again and again. They probably have a soup on their menu right now, and it's probably delicious." Tessa McLean

Lula Cafe, 2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-489-9554

Beef Ball and Tendon Soup at Aroy Thai
Beef Ball and Tendon Soup at Aroy Thai

[Photograph: Mike Gebert]

"When my kids were little, I got colds a lot. There is no better disease vector than a class full of 1st graders, trust me. Now I've had everything and am invincible, but anyway, back then I had three levels of treatment for a cold. Def-Con 3 was the udon at a now-closed Japanese spot on Irving Park called Mio Bento. Def-Con 2 was the bun bo hue at Cafe Hoang on Argyle, a powerfully funky and nurturing bowl of spicy Vietnamese soup whose secret ingredient is pork blood. And Def-Con 1, when I absolutely needed spice and heat to course through my sinuses and do for them what the workers who punched a hole in the Chicago River did for the Loop's sub-basements, was the beef ball and tendon soup at Aroy Thai. Yes, it has plenty of spice, but just as important is the powerful galangal-tamarind-something-something Thai bitterness, that seems to automatically multiply the spice by 10. It's pungent enough to revive the dead, and I speak from personal experience there." Mike Gebert

Aroy Thai, 4656 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (map); 773-275-8360