Warm, healthy, yummy: soup is the perfect thing for a January lunchtime. Richard Ehrlich picks five of the best takeaway options in Soho
Smack Lobster: Lobster chowder (£5)
Smack Lobster sells the precious red-shelled crustacean in roll form, some boasting pretty wild flavourings, and in salad form (including one based on quinoa). Yeah, they’re good. They’re very good. But what keeps us going Back to Smack is the lobster chowder (pictured above). It’s not London’s cheapest cup of takeaway soup, but goddamn, it is ever good. And I say this as someone who grew up eating shellfish chowder in New York and New England. Soothing, thick, and really tasting of lobster. 58 Dean St, W1D 6AL.
Pho: Pho Chín (£6.75 takeaway)
The eponymous dish (and bún soups too) is very good here: plenty of choice, good prices, solid quality. What we like best, however, is that they package it in separate containers so all the components are at their best when you get them back to the office. What we like second best: you can choose between chicken and veggie broth for some soups. Third best: you can have a plain cup of broth for £2.50. Fourth best: you can order on the phone and have it ready and waiting for you. The Soho location is one of the group’s dozen in the capital. Pho chin is the classic one with brisket. 163-165 Wardour St, W1F 8WN.
Notes: Soup of the day, £4 and up
It’s a shame not to grab a table for eating-in at Notes: this is a really lovely place if you can get a table at the back. But the soups survive their cardboard-encased trip to the office very well, and they are consistently good in our experience. There’s always a good soup of the day, perhaps Thai chicken or mixed bean. They tend to be thick, hearty, soothing – just the way we like them. Never a false note. 31 St Martins Lane, WC2N 4ER
Leong’s Legends: Pig’s trotter noodle soup (£9)
This Chinatown veteran is at its best with one-pot dishes, big in both comfort factor and size. If you can finish this one unaided, you’re hungrier than us. The noodles are abundant and slippery-but-chewy. The broth is umami-to-the-tenth-power. And the meat is the falling-off-the-bone tenderest pork you’ve ever eaten. Except that it’s not falling off the bone, in the literal sense, because they sensibly took the bones out in the kitchen. All you have to do is slurp, chew, and swoon. 4 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AX.
Tongue and Brisket: Chicken noodle soup, £3.90
You would probably set tongues wagging if you didn’t order one of the sandwiches hinted at in the name of this diminutive place. (Their salt beef on rye is a killer.) But you are also in the presence of a masterful rendition of ‘Jewish penicillin’: chicken noodle soup with a matzo ball. The broth is deeply flavourful, the starchy bits supple and soothing. If it’s just soup you want, don’t be ashamed. 24-26 Leather Lane, EC1N 7SU
Not on a health kick? Chow down on your favourite chips in London