Our efforts to find the best version took an interesting twist. The rules we set said that the soup must be on the menu year round -- sadly leaving many places out, since soup of the day and seasonal soups we know and love weren't considered. But the truth is that any self-respecting restaurant is going to have a soup du jour that's most likely worth trying. You just might not be able to get it whenever you want, and if you can't, it seems unfair to include it on a "best of" list.
Also, if there were more than ten viable versions out there of one style, we figured that type merits (or has already) its own list -- ergo, no ramen, pho, udon or tom yum gai. We've already listed our favorite matzo ball soups. And yes, we've done pho too. As for the others, maybe keep checking in.
That said, we did find a lot of fantastic soups to choose from that are on the menu all the time, so turn the page. And as always, we also want to hear where you get your favorites, too.10. Butternut Squash Soup at Granville Cafe:
Oooh, look. It's vegan and gluten-free butternut squash soup. Extra smooth and topped with tannic walnuts and (overly-thematic, this time of year) dried cranberries. Overall, that this autumnal favorite is available year-round makes it a favorite by default. Because sometimes you just need butternut squash. That it appeals to every dietary restriction and tastes good to boot makes it even better. 121 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank; (818) 848-4726.9. Lentil Soup at Beverly Falafel:
Walk in to the small lavender-hued space in a mini-mall across from the Beverly Center and look for the H.M. Lentil soup on the menu board. The H.M. stands for Home Made, of course. The simple soup should be expected, as it's a standard at most Middle Eastern restaurants. What sets this version apart are the bright lemon flavors that enhance the dark brown lentils, and large roughly chopped bits of garlic. Served with pita bread warmed on the grill, the entire meal is less than $5 and as filling as you could want it to be.8508 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 652-1670.8. Mushroom Soup at The Bazaar:
Where soup and artistry meet. A rich mushroom emulsion is reverently poured over a glowing raw egg yolk, herbs and a light drift of Spanish Idiazabal cheese. Heady, earthy, rich, fragrant, redolent of the woods -- and yet altogether quite light. It's soup at its most sophisticated and splurge-worthy.465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 246-5555.
Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...