6 Atlanta soups to soothe what ails you

From Midtown to Buford Highway, trust these soups to do the trick

With the months of this mild winter dwindling, it might not feel like soup season, but never doubt the ability of a warm bowl to provide instant comfort, whether you are looking to soothe a cold, your broken heart, or the lingering sting from that not-so-Super Bowl. Here are six of my year-round favorites.

The chicken soup at Rincon Latino.

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman.

Chicken soup with rice at Rincon Latino
The El Salvadorean treasure known for its pupusas (filled discs of masa) also has excellent chicken soup. The rich, golden broth is clearly fortified with lots of chicken pieces. Each order comes chicken legs, hunks of chayote squash (a waxy cross between a potato and celery), potato, and carrots. A tan basket of thick fresh tortillas arrives with fixings such as cut limes, chopped white onion, cilantro, and pea-studded white rice so you can tailor the soup to your liking. A shot of hot sauce is also a good idea if you are sick. The restaurant also packages it up nicely if you want to take it home and eat it under the covers in bed. 5055 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 770-936-8181

Beef tendon noodle soup at Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen
You don’t have to drive to Doraville to get Taiwanese food when Ah-Ma’s holds it down intown. In fact, Ah-Ma’s (which means “Grandma’s”) beef tendon noodle soup is one of the city’s best. It has a nice amount of star anise, but not so much that it leaves an astringent aftertaste with each sip. Instead, the soup has a subtle sweetness and an almost herbal quality about it, which makes it soothing when you want something mild versus vivacious. With tender hunks of low-cooked flank steak tangled with thick white noodles and wilted bok choy, the soup makes a perfect lunch when paired with a stuffed bun. (Try the “Dirty Bird” fried chicken bao.) 931 Monroe Drive, 404-549-9848

Chao Ga at Nam Phuong.

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman.

Chao Ga (Chicken porridge) at Nam Phuong
A few pages into the menu at this Vietnamese powerhouse on Buford Highway lies one of the restaurant’s best dishes: the Chao Ga, or chicken rice porridge, a staple of the menu at many Asian restaurants. The porridge has the consistency of Cream of Wheat made with fragrant Jasmine rice and glutinous rice for body. The soup is filled with loads of fresh ginger and shredded chicken and also comes with traditional congealed blood cubes, which aren’t as bad as you might think. (But you can ask the kitchen to leave them out.) The soup is topped with traditional accouterments: caramelized shallots, sliced green onion, and chopped cilantro. I also like to add a little fresh lime to balance the slight sweetness of the porridge. 4051 Buford Highway Northeast, Atlanta, 404-633-2400

Soul food.

A photo posted by Jennifer Zyman (@blissfulglutton) on

Zuppa at Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano
In a brilliant way of using up all of the leftover chicken parts from Gio’s mainstay dishes, owner Giovanni Di Palma started making soup. The broth, made from the remains of the Sorrento Lemon Chicken, is relatively clear and chock full of big hunks of dark and white meat chicken, chopped parsley, diced carrots, and Acini di pepe pasta, a pasta in the size and shape of Nerds candies. When dining in, the bowl is served with a fresh wedge of lemon. You can also grab a quart to go from the fridge to the left of the cashier. I like to keep a few in my chest freezer for whenever a cold hits. 1099 Hemphill Avenue Northwest, 404-347-3874

The beef pho at I Luv Pho on Buford Highway.

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman.

Beef pho at I Luv Pho 
For years, Pho Dai Loi #2 has dominated the Buford Highway landscape, but I Luv Pho might have taken its place as my favorite. The broth in the beef pho is balanced, with the correct amount of spices and just the slightest hint of palm sugar. Too often with pho, the stock has very little color. But here, the beef stock is so dark brown that you know how rich it is before you even taste it. The noodles swim freely, indicating that the cook took the extra step to swish them around in the broth after the soup is plated. And I also appreciate that the restaurant offers the soup in both small and large sizes. 5145 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 770-696-1662

Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen at Jinya Ramen
With so many ramen restaurants opening around town, it can be hard to decipher which is best. Let me make it easy for you. The Sandy Springs outpost of Los Angeles chain Jinya Ramen has my current favorite (and the most consistent) tonkostu ramen and ramen in general. The hefty broth is creamy and clings nicely to the thin, springy noodles that are made fresh daily. A hearty serving of noodles fills each bowl of tonkotsu along with slices of slow-cooked pork that’s not overly fatty and usual accouterments such as green onion, wood ear mushrooms, and soft-cooked egg. Pro-tip: if you order a “Kaedama,” when you finish your noodles and still have broth leftover, they will bring you a hot, fresh batch of noodles for your remaining soup. Hammond Springs Shopping Center, 5975 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-600-6974