An often overlooked and underrated dish, here at All the Food we're longtime lovers of the humble bowl of soup. For lunch or dinner, we're firm believers that good soup is a perfect meal in its own right, but can also be souped-up (sorry) with a toastie or some good bread and butter on the side. We’re also of the opinion that soup is a year-round affair which should not suffer any seasonal pigeon-holing. There’s a definite uptick in chilled soups like gazpacho on menus but, let’s face it, with Irish weather we’re usually in need of warming up in the middle of July.
So where do we turn when we’re craving the comfort of a truly great bowl? We’ve had our fair share of lack-lustre, and quite frankly lazy, bowls of ‘vegetable soup’ (you can get lucky, but at the very least please enlighten us as to which veg has gone into the pot. The point is, we know a good soup is hard to find. And just like love, it’s worth waiting for the right one to come along, because bad soup is sad soup.
Here are some of our favourite spots in the city, and we continue our quest to uncover the city's best...
Honey Truffle, Pearse Street
A popular lunch spot and independently run café with a mission to serve the best of Irish ingredients, Honey Truffle has a great selection of sandwiches and salads, as well as great coffee on tap, but for us their soup specials are always very special. Exhibit A: roasted butternut squash, parsnip, caramelised onion and ginger soup, topped with toasted chorizo and chive and herb dressing, showing all those other vegetable soups who's boss.
Pho Kim, Parnell Street
When we think about a comforting, warming bowl of soupy goodness, our mind wanders to Asia, and the home of pho, Vietnam. This fragrant dish consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat, and we’re lucky to have a few great Vietnamese spots in Dublin. This extra spicy Bún Bò Huế from Pho Kim is a variation on the classic pho, made with beef and pork broth, and using vermicelli round rice noodles. With a bowl of this in our hands and our eyes closed we could be wedged on a plastic stool in hot and humid Hanoi instead of tucked inside on blustery Parnell Street.
Little Bird, South Circular Road
Cute vegetarian café and yoga studio Little Bird has been serving great coffee and veggie food on the South Circular Road since 2015, and their menu always includes a homemade (vegan and gluten free) soup of the day. We can’t think of a better option for a healthy lunch post-yoga class than this recent pea and mint, topped with coconut drizzle and chili flakes. Namas-tasty.
Churning out whopper sandwiches in Smithfield for years, Oxmantown’s soups also deserve their flowers. Much like the bread-based options, the lunchtime soups on offer are as creative as they are delicious – like their recent Mexican tortilla. This spicy tomato broth with mixed beans is topped with lime crema, avocado and crispy tortillas, and is a regular lunchtime hero.
The Ramen Bar, Dublin 2
In a close tie with pho, our other Asian soup craving has to be the mighty Ramen. This Japanese (by way of China) delicacy packs a punch and The Ramen Bar on South William Street has a long list of ramen options. They purchased Ireland’s first state of the art ramen noodle making machine in the city of Kagawa, and make all of their noodles fresh on site. Chinese-style wheat noodles are served in a meat or fish based broth, flavoured with miso or soy, with toppings like pork, fried seaweed, bamboo shoots and green onions, all topped with a fried egg.
Nomo, Dublin 2
One of the most hyped openings of 2022, Nomo Ramen take a simpler approach to their ramen, with noodles imported from the US and three main options - chicken, pork or vegan. The broth is so immensely creamy you'll wonder what magic is at work behind the counter, and ramen purists can be found propping up the counter day and night.
Jaru, Dublin 14
Korean owned and run Jaru, operating out of Nutgrove, started off life as a college project in DIT Cathal Brugha Street and has been producing Korean foods with Irish ingredients and traditional family recipes since 2016. Their meals and products are traded in a number of weekly markets in Dublin including soups like this Galbitang beef short rib soup – a hearty, nourishing dish with delicate flavours.
Blas Café, Dublin 1
Sometimes we wish Blas Café was our little secret, but it’s not and that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else anyway. This blissful hideaway can be found behind Cineworld on Parnell Street, and is one of our favourite places to go for lunch or a coffee and treat. There’s always a soup of the day on the menu, like this recent take on the love it-or-hate it ‘Marmite’ of Dublin, the coddle. There are few things better than sneaking in here on a rainy afternoon for a rib-sticking lunch while getting stuck into a good book. But shhhh, don’t tell anyone….
Three Storey, Dublin 2
The quest for Dublin’s best seafood chowder deserves its very own guide, but we thought we'd give a nod to this new kid on the block for a gallant effort. Three Storey opened their café, “spritzeria” and cocktail bar in March of this year, and a bowl of this creamy chowder in the bar, with the prerequisite soda bread accompaniment, would go down a treat if you need somewhere to dive in from the winter rain.
Neon, Dublin 2
Asian-inspired Neon has been a Camden Street stalwart for as long as we can remember, and is one of the only places in town (the only?) where you can serve yourself a '99 ice cream. Which is either the best or the worst business idea, entirely dependent on your customers' skill sets. Digressions aside, their version of the world-famous Thai hot and sour prawn soup, Tom Yam Goong or Tom Yum, is the perfect way to get some heat into your bones on a cold day, or knock a stuffed nose on the head.
Richmond, Dublin 8
Buzzy neighbourhood restaurant Richmond’s recent menu addition caught our eye, and although it may be considered by some to be a pasta dish, we’re claiming it for soup territory. This comté cheese ravioli, served in an onion broth, would have us practicing for the egg and spoon race, without the egg, all the way to Portobello.
Cornucopia, Dublin 2
Open since 1986, Dublin institution Cornucopia was, for quite some time, the only place in the city where you could get decent vegetarian and vegan food. How far we have come. They always have at least one if not two soup options on their menu, and we love choosing from their freshly baked bread selection (decisions, decisions). Then, tray in hand, we scurry around and try to nab a steamy window seat, for one of the best people-spotting locations in town.
The Pepper Pot Café, Dublin 2
Another one of our long-time favourites, The Pepper Pot Café in the Powerscourt Centre, always has a soup of the day we find hard to resist.. They can sell out fast though, so be sure to get their early to avoid disappointment (this literally happened to us last week). Their hearty soups, like this beautiful minestrone, come served with their delicious freshly baked breads, and we think they're perfection.
Legit Coffee Co, Dublin 8
This little spot on Meath Street is the perfect place to settle into on your lunch break. Legit serving great coffee, sandwiches, sweet treats and the daily soups are seriously delicious. We’re still not quite sure if we prefer to pronounce this Liberties cafe’s name ‘legit’ as in short for ‘legitimate’, or as we’ve also heard it called, ‘leg it’, as in ‘you better leg it in here for soup before we’ve eaten it all’.
Two Pups, Dublin 8
Staying in the Dublin 8 neighbourhood is one of our top brunch – and also dog-friendly – establishments. Two Pups just gets it right, and the same can be said for their soups, including this classic Dahl that they’ve been serving for years. Crave-inducing stuff that will warm your belly and sooth your worries away.