We’re all about a good gazpacho during the summer, but the chillier months are prime time for steamy soups and stews. (Check out this piece if you’re searching for a good bowl of ramen or pho.) Whether you’re looking for a traditional chicken noodle to cure a cold, have a hankering for some spicy Maryland crab, or want to get nostalgic with a creamy tomato, here are a few places to visit to escape the nip in the air.
Atwater’s: With locations scattered everywhere from Canton to Catonsville, this hometown hotspot is full of satisfying comfort foods. The daily soups, which vary by location, are sold by the cup, bowl, or quart and served with Atwater’s fresh-baked breads. Expect varieties like sweet potato bisque and creamy broccoli and cheese. Beloved broth: The first bowl of soup Atwater’s ever sold was a piping-hot helping of shrimp and sausage gumbo at the Belvedere Square location in 2003. If you ever see it on the ever-rotating menu, it’s a can’t-miss. Multiple locations including 3601 Boston St., 667-309-7146
Di Pasquale’s Marketplace: Although best known for its hefty subs and traditional Italian pastas, this Brewers Hill market (with a satellite location in South Baltimore) churns out some stellar soups. Step up to the counter to order a steaming bowl of Tuscan chili, classic fagioli (pasta and beans), cream of crab, or chicken gnocchi. Beloved broth: Italian wedding soup with parsley, Parmesean, and mini-meatballs. 3700 Toone St., 410-276-6787
Lenny’s Delicatessen: Featuring classic touches like cafeteria-style service and paper placemats, this decades-old deli has long been a go-to for breakfast platters, overstuffed sandwiches, fried chicken, and tasty soups. Slurp down classics like split pea, chicken noodle, and lumberjack vegetable. Beloved broth: Chicken matzo ball soup like Bubbe used to make. 9107 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, 410-363-3353
Mama’s On the Half Shell: Opened in 2003, Canton’s Mama’s On the Half Shell—which is expanding with a second location in Owings Mills this fall—offers an array of classic Maryland seafood staples, whether it be crab cakes, seafood clubs, or crab mac and cheese. But let’s not forget another highlight: soup. Piping-hot bowls range from Maryland crab and cream of crab to oyster stew and a seasonal French onion. Beloved broth: Thick seafood chowder. 2901 O’Donnell St., 410-276-3160
Nalley Fresh: We know, we know. This homegrown cafe chain is best known for its customizable salads and rice bowls. But don’t sleep on the soups. While making your way down the line, add on a hearty cup of the soup du jour, which could be anything from chicken noodle to turkey or vegan chili. Beloved broth: In keeping with the DIY spirit, you can create your own layered soup bowl with a choice of protein, plus noodles, quinoa, black beans, carrot, onion, wheat berries, pumpkin seeds, and spinach all covered in a steamy tomato broth. Multiple locations including 120 E. Baltimore Street.
SoBo Cafe: Settle in at one of the white linen-covered tables at this Federal Hill dining destination to start your meal with a cup of steamy soup. Seasonal favorites include a tortilla and creamy tomato basil soup. Sobo Market—the cafe’s sister spot around the corner, now under new ownership—typically also carries grab-and-go flavors like chicken noodle and cream of tomato. Beloved broth: Butternut squash with sherry topped with garlic aioli and crispy sage. 6 W. Cross St., 410-752-1518
Soup’s On: This cozy outpost in Midtown-Belvedere exudes plenty of charm, with chalkboard menus, coveted window seating, and whimsical, hand-painted table-tops inspired by the featured soups on the menu. (The butternut squash table is particularly pleasing, with labeled illustrations of ingredients like thyme and leeks.) The offerings rotate frequently, and include a sizeable vegan and vegetarian selection. Be on the lookout for options ranging from a classic French onion to cream of crab. Beloved broth: Cream of tomato with mascarpone. 11 W. Preston St., 410-528-1003
Stone Mill Bakery & Cafe: Whether you’re dining in, or ordering a quart to-go, you can’t go wrong with the scratch-made soups at this Green Spring Station staple. Get cozy and pair the cafe’s warm bowls (think non-fat vegetable and a classic chicken noodle) with any of its fresh-baked breads. Beloved broth: Stone Mill’s famous tomato-basil soup will be sure to soothe your soul. Multiple locations including 10751 Falls Road, Lutherville-Timonium. 410-821-1358
Thames Street Oyster House: Seafood stews abound at this Fells Point spot, which boasts a menu full of oceanic offerings like fish and chips, oysters on the half shell, and classic lobster rolls. Try the Eastern Shore oyster stew, or the special weekend chowder made with Rhode Island quahogs (hard clams). Beloved broth: Locally inspired Maryland crab with braised short rib. 1728 Thames St., 443-449-7726
Urban Deli: Early birds love grabbing locally sourced Towson Hot Bagels and Zeke’s coffee at this Federal Hill breakfast-and-lunch spot, which also serves an array of signatures sandwiches. The soup du jour rotates daily, and includes chicken noodle, hearty vegetable, and chili. Beloved broth: Cheesy broccoli. 1025 Light St., 443-708-0495
Fact checking assistance by Samantha Carey