New takes on classic soups

What chefs are doing with ramen, pho, carne en su jugo and more.
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsFrench onion soupOLD FAVORITESoup a l�Oignon Gratinee at Le Bouchon You don�t become one of the city�s iconic French bistros without mastering French onion soup, traditionally a beef broth laden with caramelized onions and crowned with a crouton mounded with broiled Gruy�re. 1958 N Damen Ave (773-862-6600).NEW TAKEFrench kimchi soup at OiistarThis new noodle bar�s chef-owner, Se Je �Sunny� Yim, is Korean-born, but between attending culinary school and spending a decade as a hotel chef, he has a firm grounding in French cooking. The result is that aside from a traditional Japanese ramen, Yim isn�t afraid to play around with mash-ups, such as �Pozolmen� (hominy, pico de gallo, chipotle and guajillo peppers in a pork broth with noodles) and this soup, in which housemade kimchi (fermented cabbage) is stewed with andouille sausage and a little bit of pork belly, then topped off with a layer of provolone, broiled and served with garlic ciabatta on the side. 1385 N Milwaukee Ave (773-360-8791).
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsCarne en su jugoOLD FAVORITECarne en su jugo at Taqueria Los Gallos #2Literally translating to �meat in its juices,� this replenishing Mexican soup hails from the state of Jalisco. Chopped steak, crumbled bacon and beans are added to the beef broth, which is garnished with sliced radishes, avocado, onion and chile de arbol. 4252 S Archer Ave (773-254-2081).NEW TAKEPollo en su jugo at ScofflawChef Mickey Neely first heard about this soup from LTH Forum poster PIGMON, who�s been documenting Chicago iterations of it on the site since 2006, and Neely trekked to Brighton Park to try the version at Los Gallos #2. At Scofflaw, Neely replaces the beef stock with a rich chicken stock that�s blended with tomatillos, cilantro and serrano peppers, adds chicken breast and puts the garnishes�pickled serrano pepper, radishes, avocado, cilantro, diced onion and lime�on the side �so people have agency.� 3201 W Armitage Ave (773-252-9700).
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsRamen OLD FAVORITEToroniku spicy miso ramen at SantoukaMultiple iterations of the Japanese soup (typically a pork-rich broth with toothsome noodles and accompaniments like bamboo shoots, wood-ear mushrooms and fish cakes) are served at this restaurant in the Mitsuwa Marketplace food court; our favorite is the toroniku spicy miso ramen, made with unreasonably luscious pork cheeks. 100 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights (847-357-0286).NEW TAKERamen with pastrami broth at Trenchermen�Pat [Sheerin] and I have always talked about wanting to do a noodle shop at some point in our career,� says Trenchermen co-chef Mike Sheerin. In the meantime, the brothers found an outlet for their ramen love: a Japanese/Jewish version that was recently added to the bar menu. The foundation is pastrami broth, which starts with ducks from Swan Creek Farm. The ducks� skin is made into a stock to which the birds� roasted bones are added, and the drumsticks are made into pastrami, which is incorporated into the broth. Added to this base are mustard noodles (to riff on the pastrami) custom-made for Trenchermen by Slurping Turtle, plus a soft-cooked egg, braised pork belly, scallions, collard greens and a sprinkling of togarashi. 2039 W North Ave (773-661-1540).
 (Photograph: Nicole Schneider)
Photograph: Nicole SchneiderPhoOLD FAVORITEPho xe Tang at Tank NoodleSimmered beef bones form the base for the broth of this Vietnamese soup, which can be filled with a range of proteins (such as sliced beef, tripe or tendon) and rice noodles and is usually accompanied by a slate of on-the-side garnishes such as Thai basil, lime wedges and bean sprouts. 4953 N Broadway (773-878-2253).NEW TAKEVietnamese brisket pho at the Bento Box�I like to keep the ingredients true to Vietnamese culture,� says chef Rick Spiros, but he takes a few liberties for his version, omitting hoisin (rendering the final product gluten-free) and adding all the accoutrements�rice noodles, cilantro, Thai basil and yu choy (�It�s like Vietnamese spinach�)�to the broth, instead of serving them on the side. The brisket is braised for five hours to absorb the aromatics of star anise, cassia bark, cilantro, scallions, charred onions, charred ginger, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves and Red Boat fish sauce; the braising liquid is then repurposed for the pho�s broth. 2246 W Armitage Ave (773-278-3932).
By Julia Kramer |