Sometimes all you need is soup. Here are some great spots.
JiangHu Asian Street Food
110 E Court St, Iowa City
The sour, spicy flavors in the saozi noodle soup at JiangHu are addictive. Try it once and you’ll find countless reasons to order it again and again. When you need a warm up on a chilly day: saozi noodles. When you’re feeling the beginnings of a head cold: saozi. When you’re too lazy to pack your lunch: saozi. When it’s Tuesday: saozi. Ladles of meaty, tangy broth are poured over tangles of noodles, black mushrooms, diced pork, carrots and tofu in a bowl so big it must certainly be meant to be shared by two. In reality, it’s a dish easily tackled by one. Be sure to safeguard your leftovers in the fridge; everyone will have their eyes on this one. If you’re *that* guy who digs into someone else’s saozi, at least be smart enough to not wear white. The chili-oil broth stains on your shirt will be a dead giveaway.
843 Quarry Rd, Ste 140, Coralville
The ramen at Konomi comes highly recommended and certainly does not disappoint. The chefs and kitchen staff at the restaurant take their time crafting this seemingly simple dish, spending 18 hours making just the broth. The resulting base for all the additional ingredients––choose from pork, chicken short ribs or oxtail and corn, scallions and mustard greens––is hearty, creamy and soul-satisfying liquid gold. The generous portion could make for two meals, but if you’re determined, trust there’s room in your belly for this big bowl of broth to slosh around.
Her Soup Kitchen
625 S Dubuque St, Iowa City
If the name of this restaurant didn’t clue you in, let’s make things crystal clear: Her Soup Kitchen makes great soup. At this family-run restaurant, all soups are made fresh daily with produce and ingredients from local gardens and producers when possible. There’s usually a selection of two or three from a list of roughly 20 recipes they cycle through. The most requested? That title is easily awarded to HSK’s tomato bisque, mushroom bisque or ham and white bean. Don’t let hot weather keep you from Her Soup Kitchen. Cold soups slide their way into rotation during summer months.
Bread Garden Market
225 S Linn St, Iowa City
Ask anyone for soup recommendations in Iowa City and you’re bound to hear Bread Garden Market’s name pop up. A staple for fresh, fast food in downtown IC, Bread Garden offers a rotating selection of soups that cater to carnivores, vegetarians and vegans. Bread Garden’s version of tomato bisque, called Tuscan Tomato, is craveable, and is a daily staple. Their simple lentil soup somehow becomes something truly flavorful and magnificent rather than just a sad winter lunch. The best day is when the Italian Sausage White Bean Rapini variety shows up in the mix. The spicy, tomato-y broth is mixed with housemade Italian sausage, a generous heap of creamy white beans and handfuls of hearty kale. It somehow manages to be light, yet filling and incredibly satisfying. It’s equally perfect for cold winter days or when the air conditioner is cranked in the office and you need a warm up.
West End Diner
809 6th Ave, Marion
A refurbished historic house is home to Marion’s new West End Diner. Opened in fall of 2019, the clean, rustic but modern interior provides the perfect atmosphere for diners to tuck into their breakfast or lunch order. Everything is made from scratch and the menu here offers a range of coffee and espresso drinks, cafe staples and family favorite recipes. The approachable menu guarantees a satisfying meal and when you’re searching for something comforting in bowl form, try one of their housemade soups. Broccoli cheddar and chicken and wild rice are always on the menu and a featured variety rotates in on a weekly basis.
Created by DVIP Executive Director Kristie Fortmann-Doser almost a quarter century ago, the annual Souper Bowl event challenges the myth that more violence occurs against women around the NFL Super Bowl. This all-you-care-to-eat soup supper is open to all and raises money for victims of intimate partner abuse, human trafficking, stalking and harassment and serves over 1,900 survivors. Generous area restaurants regularly contribute over 40 soups to the event, and donated ceramic bowls are used to serve the dinner. The bowls are a parting gift for attendees at the end of the night, intended to represent community, giving and remembrance for victims.
Solon High School Art Club “Empty Bowls Luncheon to End Hunger”
Each spring, the Solon High School Art Club hosts the Empty Bowls Luncheon to End Hunger as a benefit to raise money for the CommUnity Food Bank and the Solon Food Pantry. An annual tradition since 2010, the Solon chapter of the Empty Bowls project has raised more than $23,000 to date for hunger-related causes. Students spend all year crafting handmade ceramic bowls to use for the event, recruiting volunteers and promoting the event. And in the early morning hours on the day of the luncheon, the students can be found in the school’s Family Consumer Science room, preparing massive amounts of soup for their hungry guests. Attendees of the Empty Bowls event are encouraged to make a donation to benefit hunger-related charities (suggested amount: $10) and to keep their one-of-a-kind bowl after their meal.