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Soup for when you're sick?

I've got a stubborn Autumn cold and I feel like all I've been craving for the past few days is soup. I had a couple of canned soups I had on hand, then wanted something fresher and more exciting, so today I went to Simpang Asia for lunch and picked up an order of Soto Ayam (which I'd never had) to go. When I got home, I thought they'd made a mistake because there was an extra container in my bag, but when I opened it... Lo and behold, it was full of shredded chicken, sliced hard-boiled egg, sprouts, noodles, lime, a packet of ketjap manis, and a little container full of some kind of hot chili sauce. I gleefully put everything in, and expected to eat about half since my appetite hasn't been great, but after I had beads of sweat on my brow and my nose was running, I ate the entire thing. This is my new favorite soup, even for when I'm not sick (can't wait to bring the hubby back there!). Sooooo good!!

Does anyone have any other suggestions for good places to get soup when you're sick? (So, preferably not cream-based soups or anything too heavy. I've been searching in vain for a Peruvian chicken soup called caldo de gallina, as I read that this is the Peruvian answer to the matzoh ball variety, but with no luck. I would prefer places on the Westside, but would also be willing to travel a bit if the soup is that good, and to-go is better, especially since I don't want to annoy neighboring diners with my sniffling.


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  1. At any good Thai restaurant, have the Tom Yum. Either with chicken (kai) or with shrimp (koong). I always add extra heat from the spice tray. I call it Thai penicilin

    1. Korean Spicy Beef Soup! aka yook gae jahng.

      I stay as far away from the Westside as possible, but I would think almost any Korean restaurant would have it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mlgb

        the yook gae jahng at koba house is quite passable for westside korean.

      2. I do Matzo ball from Canters.....

        9 Replies
        1. re: Adsvino

          That is what I do also.

          Canters Deli -- Open 24/7

          1. re: JeetJet

            3rd Canters. Also, Chicken soup from Rainbow Bar and Grill.

            1. re: rednyellow

              Somebody once sent me to Junior's Deli on Westwood, warning me that, while everything there was absolutely awful, the matzoh ball soup was quite good.

              Indeed, the motzah ball soup is quite good. I like it more than Canters. And also, my friend was right; Everything else I've had there tastes like sawdust, ashes, and death.

              1. re: Thi N.

                There is a place across the street and half a block north of canters that has AMAZING matza ball soup. way better than canters. wish i knew the name, but they always have a sign outside that advertises the faifax HS student special and it's next door from the grocery store.
                also, the Laksa soup at Singapore's Banana Leaf is great when you are sick. So is the fish soup at the Fish Grill.

                1. re: Clyde

                  I'm gonna have to dispute the quality of the laksa at Singapore's Banana Leaf. I could be totally wrong here, or the day I had it, all the chefs were high on PCP, because it was absurdly inedible.

                  1. re: noahbites

                    Don't know if you or they had an off day, but the laksa has always been excellent, and I've had it a number of times over the last few years.

                    1. re: jonplaywright

                      I have to side with noahbites. Like so much that we eat or drink, one has to make their own palate happy. But at the same time, Banana Leaf's laksa bears a ghost's resemblance to what one could expect from hawker joints in Singapore, or even places like Yazmin or Belacan Grill for that matter. I haven't eaten at Banana Leaf in years, only because after trying it a few times, I just didn't feel it was worth my effort from the Westside. In all fairness, maybe I should give them another try, but I will make the effort for the two other places that I mentioned - Yazmin in Alhambra, and Belecan Grill in Redondo Beach.

                  2. re: Clyde

                    I gave this deli a try today. The matzo ball soup was ok, but for me the broth was a bit too oily and bland, same with the ball. It was served with a large slice of carrot. The carrot must have been very large since the slice was very fiberous, like wood. It was by no means a bad bowl of soup, but I prefer Canter's by a hefty margin.

                  3. re: Thi N.

                    Then, right after your cold or flu, let me send you back to Junior's for a breakfast of eggs, marinated steak, fried potatoes, and thick cinnamon toast. This is the absolute worst imitation of sawdust and ashes I've ever had, which is to say, it's very tasty human nutrition. Of course -- to complete your vivid triptych -- it may well contribute to my early death, but you'll be OK if you end the meal with a healthy fruit-filled Danish.

            2. 1. Samnaluaung house special noodle, from Samnualung noodle.
              2. Rod Ded. I normally go for their brutal Thai duck soup, but when I'm feeling sick, their beautiful won ton soup does the trick.
              3. Antiquera de Oaxaquena. Their chicken soup is *gorgeous* - very herby, green, and pure chicken.
              4. Viet Noodle Bar for chicken pho. See the other post I just made earlier this morning.
              5. Han Shul Bat: Korean ox-bone soup place. Basically, nature's gatorade. Will electrolyte you up the wazoo. Also: delicious.
              6. Ma Dang Gook So: My favorite dish here is normally cold fresh soy noodle soup, but their dried fish soup does the trick when I'm sick.
              7. I don't know the name, but it's in Koreatown on 8th street, between Normandie and Vermont, on the south side of the street, and the sign on the front is the same as the Japanese symbol for mountain - yama. It's like a trident, with a longer middle tine. Normally I go for the abalone porridge, but their chicken-stuffed-with-glutinous-rice with herbs soup is about as healing as you could imagine.
              8. Westside, Ramen-ya is pretty good, especially for the sickies. I prefer Chabuya for pure soup quality, Ramen-ya for healing. Also, the pure pork style of ramen at Chabuya is a little heavy for me when I'm sick. Ramen-ya has the Tokyo-style thinner ramen broth.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Thi N.

                Great list, Thi, thank you. Can't wait to start trying some of those places. I almost had ramen today instead of the soto ayam, but wanted to try something I hadn't had before (which is why I didn't have any matzoh ball). And from the way I'm feeling this evening, I can almost guarantee I'll be having soup again tomorrow...

                1. re: beingreen

                  Yer welcome.

                  Oh: La Pupusa Loca, on Santa Monica, has great Salvadorean soups.

                  1. re: beingreen

                    Almost forgot! Sunnin - Lebanese-Armenian place at Westwood and Santa Monica - makes a glorious lentil/split pea soup. Also, glorious everything else, too. Except schwarma and kebab.

                    1. re: Thi N.

                      also, their falafal sandwiches are definitely to be avoided, especially given that good ones can be had by walking across the street to shamshiri grill.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Strongly disagree with this. Shamshiri does many things well, but this is not where I'd go for falafel.

                      2. re: Thi N.

                        I actually enjoy the beef shawarma at Sunin -- I really like the sauce they use. One thing I've soured on at Sunin is the hummus, which is just too...well, sour and lemony for my taste.

                    2. re: Thi N.

                      7. is San (Korean for "mountain") and you're absolutely right about their samgyetang. It is an elixir.

                      Mountain Cafe
                      3064 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                    3. I'm generally of the tradition Chicken [w/ or w/o matzah ball] soup panacea... Nate'n'Al's is great.

                      If you like other soups though...
                      Clementine will do to go pints
                      Mrs. Winston's, those they're on the milder end
                      17th St Cafe if you feel like french onion
                      Mario's Peruvian for a variety of soups...
                      Mi India Bonita for their albondigas
                      Hot'n'Sour at Cheng Du
                      Whole Foods' Split Pea if they've got it, but it may not be what you want at this point
                      Albondigas at Don Antonio

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        i second the nate 'n al's recommendation

                      2. If you can get yourself some Greek Chicken and Rice soup, it will do the trick too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JEN10

                          The chicken soup at El Caserio in Silverlake is really good (Ecuadorian). But on the west side, I like the chicken soup at Juquila on Santa Monica. It has full chicken pieces in it, bones and all, which can annoy people, but the broth is great. A side of rice will extend it nicely as well.

                          11619 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                          El Caserio Silver Lake
                          401 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

                        2. Cosumme ranchero at Monte Alban. I generally prefer the sopa azteca, but it's a bit heavier because of the cheese.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: a_and_w

                            second this! when I have a cold, I absolutely crave this soup! but make sure you're clear when you order what soup, or you may end up with their tortilla soup!

                            1. re: xox

                              Another good offering in this vein is the chicken-vegetable soup at Tacos Por Favor. A bit bland but chock full of chunky vegetables and accompanied by a bag of greens you add yourself. It's great for when you're sick...

                          2. The sopa de fideos with chicken at Tere's on Melrose just west of Vine is perfect for what ails you. The chicken is super high-quality breast meat and the broth has depth and a bit of spice. They serve it with some lime and homemade corn tortillas. My first stop when I need (not want) soup.

                            Tere's Mexican Grill
                            5870 Melrose Ave Ste 1, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                            1. Coming in late to this thread, but if you need something more Westside than Canters, try Fromin's on 19th and Wilshire...when my youngest has a lingering cold, it really works. And I can get myself a nice pastrami sandwich as well.

                              Also I really like the ramen at Santouka in the marketplace on Centinela in Mar Vista area.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: NAspy

                                Liptons kosher chicken soup mix. It's stocked in the kosher section or where the standard Liptons onion soup mix is kept. Get a bag of thin noodles to go with it. Boil the water and then add the soup mix and some of the noodles. It all takes 10 minutes. The wife had a cold last week and we happened to have this mix in the house and really liked it a lot. This was a big surprise. It is nothing like the regular mix Liptons has.

                              2. whenever I'm sick, I crave the chicken broth from Yakitoriya on Sawtelle. Izakaya Bincho and Robataya serve something similar as well.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: banquisha

                                  I second Izakaya Bincho for their zosui (chicken porridge) and their Tsukune Dango Nabe (Meatball w/ vegetables soup). Each of these are slowly simmered in a small cast iron urn for about 30-40 minutes. The broth in both is clean, fresh, and subtly sweet. This essence permeates everything inside the urn, creating a flavorful, satisfying and healthy meal. These dishes are served in the urn, keeping your soups hot and satisfying for a long time.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    haven't tried the dango nabe but, not matter how sick i am... i can always have a nice bowl of zosui at izakaya bincho!

                                    1. re: banquisha

                                      They're two different animals, but both are equally welcome at our table. I hope you get a chance to try the dango nabe next time... :)

                                2. as a fellow westsider, since Monte Alban doesn't deliver and who wants to go out when they're sick, I get a delivery of wonton soup from Siam Chan. Super garlicky and soothing!

                                  1. I second the Nate N'Al's recommendation for Matzah Ball Soup, I think it's very tasty and a great curative. Also, I love pho when I'm sick, but I'm not sure where to go for it near you.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: chazar

                                      If you're going to Nat & Al's you might as well go a few more blocks to Bristol Farm on Beverly and get their Matzo Ball Soup....
                                      It's great soup but you've got to get there when they first bring it out because there are always a few of the self-centered jerks who fill up their take out containers with only matzo balls and leave only the broth therefore requiring the person behind the counter to go and get more.

                                    2. When looking for soup I look for something that I know is homemade, totally and not even something partially premade and then enhanced. Something different something unique and something that I know did not come out of a bag or can.

                                      to name a few, le gelato south of wilshire on robertson. Yes it is an ice cream place, but there is a little old italian lady in the back... who really knows how to cook it up. The chicken soup is authentic. On any given day you may be surprised because it changes depending on what she has in the kitchen. Don't be surprised if one day there are angel hair pasta noodles then another small pearls of noodles, and sometimes a chicken drumstick and somethings a rather large piece of celery. Another place that serves a different but definitely homemade chicken soup is Versailles. It has potato in it so it is a little thicker but good. These places don't just open a can of chicken stock and add noodles and serve. They are definitely different but both great because you will not see these soups anywhere else.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LouSal

                                        Just to add something. The little old lady, Claire, has not cooked at Al Gelato for several years. I assume they still use her chicken soup recipe, but she's not the one cooking.

                                      2. get whatever soup they are serving at both of these places:
                                        1) attari sandwhich shop (go at lunchtime as they are not open for dinner)
                                        2) shamshiri grill (open for lunch and dinner and all the hours in between)

                                        1. If you get sick on Mondays, go to Fromins and order their Turkey Vegetable soup - unbeleivable curing qualities (they may have leftovers on Tuesdays).
                                          Fromins Deli
                                          Santa Monica Blvd about 18th St.
                                          Santa Monica

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ZoeZ

                                            Just for those who may read your post and look for Fromin's on Santa Monica Blvd. - they are actually on Wilshire Blvd. (1832 Wilshire Blvd)

                                            Fromin's Restaurant
                                            1832 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                          2. Thai Boat Noodles from Sapp Coffee Shop on Hollywood Blvd. That dish will chase away any pesky cold virus.


                                            1. Surprised nobody mentioned the Cocido at Abajenjo in Culver city which has veggies and big pieces of beef in it.

                                                1. on another korean tip, if you are adventurous try the denjangchigae, it's a spicy fermented soybean paste and tofu stew that is not only delicious but good for you too. Add a little kimchi and you are in active enzyme heaven.

                                                  1. find the nearest Filipino restaurant for a steaming bowl of sinigang (I prefer pork). The rich tamarind based broth will ease your stuffiness.

                                                    1. Huge fan of Junior's matzo ball soup. However, if you can get a friend to pick it up for you , sopa de verdura at Mariela's on 3rd near Vermont.