Ah, soup. A cure-all food. Looking for a light option? Soup. Looking for a hearty option? Soup. Sick? Soup. Really freaking tired of winter? Soup! And with all these options I’ve featured below, you’ll be set on finding a bowl to warm up with during the tail end of winter.

At these restaurants, you’ll find a souper good reason to go out, cold be damned, to treat yourself to a good ol’ hot meal. Don’t stay in and microwave a bowl of Campbell’s when all these great local options exist. The price is right, especially for the quality of the soups. Bundle up and get out there to find some semblance of joy these last few weeks of winter.

Destihl

When ordering from Destihl, I had my mind set on having the corn and chicken chowder. But I needed to know what their featured soup was--du jour, if you will. On the day I ordered it was sweet potato and chicken, so I thought, “Hm, why not. Sounds pretty good!” I will say, though, that the soup I got was not at all what I was expecting, but I’m also not saying that that’s a bad thing. I believe I let out an audible, surprised “oh..” as I opened my to-go container.

Destihl’s sweet potato chicken soup is a brothy delight, a perfect lite lunch option. I paired it with half a fruit and goat cheese salad, and felt pretty darn good about my decision. Take that, calories! (Please refrain from telling me if the caloric intake is actually high. Let me have this!) It was a lunchtime meal that didn’t leave me feeling overstuffed and was just enough to tide me over until 5:01 p.m. when the thought of dinner became Priority #1.

The chicken was cut into very small bites, think canned Campbell chicken noodle soup sized bites. When I ordered, the waiter was insistent to let me know that the soup also contained coconut. I didn’t mind, because I love coconut, but if you for some reason do not, that flavor is barely detectable. It also had red pepper, carrots, onion, and a basil garnish. Priced at $5.25 per bowl or $9 for a half and half combo, it was nice lunch if you’re looking for something quick, light, and yummy. If Destihl doesn’t happen to be featuring the sweet potato chicken soup, other options include tomato, corn and chicken chowder (which I hear is a favorite), and other featured soup flavors that you can call to ask about.

Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works
301 N Neil St
Champaign
M-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Farmhouse Restaurant

Soup Stop™ number two was Harvest Market’s Farmhouse Restaurant. It’s located inside the store, and it keeps a regular rotation of soup. They had five different soups to choose from: chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, vegetable, and portobello mushroom. After staring at the metal pots of soup for what was probably too long, I finally decided on the loaded green pepper. You can get a bowl for $5, which comes with a biscuit with butter and strawberry jam.

The loaded green pepper is basically a glorified chili. It was made up of beef, tomatoes, green pepper, and onions. It looked like chili and tasted like a good ol’ vegetable soup. Would I go so far as to call it “loaded green pepper”? Eh. But it was still tasty. It was downright cold when I went to the Farmhouse, so to cozy up with this soup and a biscuit was basically a cure-all for the winter blues. As silly as it sounds, I really enjoyed the fact that the soup came out hot, because of the aforementioned cold weather. The restaurant doesn’t have a set soup menu you can check out online, but you can call ahead or stop by and see for yourself.

Farmhouse Restaurant
(inside Harvest Market)
2029 S Neil St
Champaign
6 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily

The Bread Company

All aboard Soup Stop™ number three! That brings us to The Bread Company in Urbana. If you haven’t been there, what are you doing? One of their staples is their baked French onion soup, and it’s for good reason. That soup is insane — insanely tasty. The Bread Company offers it every day, along with changing daily options. The evening I went they had vegetable bean, chicken noodle, and their house French onion. Now, I need to distinguish that the house French onion and the baked French onion are very different. The house French onion is just the soup. But the baked French onion...that includes a homemade crouton crust and baked Gruyere on top. Glorious, melty Gruyere. I’ve written about cheese pull in a previous review, and The Bread Company baked French onion soup has outstanding cheese pull. Even the waiters will tell you to spring for the baked French onion versus the house, because it includes the bread and cheese topping. The baked will set you back $6 for a bowl — worth every penny. Their daily soups are $5 a bowl, which rationalizes any decision you have about ordering another dish (I did. Baked goat cheese. Also delish).

I’m a person who gets emotional over bread and cheese, so eating here is always a real treat. The atmosphere is unbelievably cozy, the service is good, and the place smells like bread and cheese.

The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin
Urbana
M-Th 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F + Sa 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Courier Cafe

I’m personally a fan of the Courier, but had actually never tried their soup before doing research for this article. I decided that for the sake of all that is soup, I should try at least one “classic” option along the journey. So I had the chicken noodle instead of the other options: beef chili and split pea.

That chicken noodle soup was one cozy cup of soup, and was just right for the rainy night I visited. The noodles were the handmade doughy kind, and I could have married them (if you haven’t noticed by now, I have an overwhelming obsession with carbs; why do you think I like writing these reviews?). Courier's lil’ cups of soup are $2.99 or you can go for a bowl for $3.99, and it will come with saltines and oyster crackers. I found the cup to be just the right size for a side, but a bowl of chicken noodle soup would make for a nice, filling meal. I appreciate the variety of soups Courier offers on a daily basis, and it's a great place for a cozy, no-frills meal.

Courier Cafe
111 N Race St
Urbana
Su-Th 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F + Sa 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Seven Saints

Last stop: Seven Saints. On the menu: clam chowder. Like places mentioned in this article, Seven Saints also offers different soups every day, but they always offer tomato bisque. Along with that, the menu on the day I visited consisted of chili and clam chowder. I ordered in for lunch, so I just went for a cup, which was surprisingly cheap at just $2.59. Granted, the portion was the smallest of all the soups I reviewed for this article, but considering it was chowder it was quite filling. If you do not like fish or seafood, you will not like this soup. But, I do so it’s your loss, really. There was a lot of flavor packed in, and let’s just say that I advise having a mint at the ready for when you’re finished. As far as clam chowders go, it’s pretty standard and isn’t hiding any surprises. It comes with some oyster crackers and is a nice warm meal to have when the temperature outside has sunk to subzero.

Seven Saints
32 E Chester St
Champaign
Su + M 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
 

Photos by Remington Rock