Soup in Prague is a life-saver when the fall hits the city: many foreign visitors end up walking more than they ever thought they would, and a bowl of hot, delicious, steaming soup is the best prevention of a ruin-your-travel cold. And the Czechs love a good soup: what Czech cuisine lacks in the appetisers department, it makes up for in the soups category. According to Chef Sahajdak, the executive chef of arguably the best restaurant in Prague, Czech food is all about sauces and soups. So where to go for the best soup in Prague? Read on.
Must-eat soups in Prague
It is no secret that Sansho has been high in our list of the best restaurants in Prague since its opening. We seriously think that their pork belly is one of the must-eats in Prague, but a few soups have recently entered Sansho’s menu menu. While Paul Day, the chef and owner, had been promising ramen soup in the past (and The Real Meat Society does sell a finish-at-home sesame ramen now), he has instead started serving two different soups as part of their a-la-carte lunch menu. The chowder, introduced recently, is a rich and warming gem for the coming fall. It contains smoked carp, so you get a touch of Czechs' most prized Christmas tradition without having to deal with all the bones. (Trust us. They're not fun.) Paul Day says it's the hottest dish in Prague (and he's not talking about the temperature) and who are we to argue? But we still hope for the return of the duck soup, which stole our hearts last winter. The very fragrant, rich broth with lots of tender and juicy duck cut into thick slices is the kind of dish you want to camp in front of a restaurant for. Hey, at least we do.
When the Essensia restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental closed and reopened as the Asian-inspired Spices restaurant last year, we were planning to hold funerals for the Kulajda, the only soup that actually made it to the list of our must-eats in Prague. We were so relieved to find that it stayed in the Spices' Lounge and Terrace Menu. Yes, it may be kinda weird to come to a fancy hotel to eat a bowl of soup, but you’ll understand why we send you there when you taste it: the roasted potatoes and perfectly seasoned, rich, creamy soup with dill and vinegar matches the thick puree of wild mushrooms in a marriage of fantastic and deep flavors, with a cherry - oops, we meant a sous-vide egg - on top. Is it strange to book a stay in a hotel just for the soup its restaurant? Yes. But then again, our friends tell us we're a bit strange when it comes to food, so we guess it's okay.
As an side, for great Kulajda soup, make your way to Cafe Imperial, which serves a solid version, along with a warming garlic soup, and then head over to the recently opened Next Door (run by the same owners) and finish yourself off with their crayfish soup, a Czech classic in a modern, fluffy version. The Cestr restaurant sometimes serves the Kulajda, and it's great, too. If you want to try it, hurry. Cestr is due to close for two years soon.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will have noticed just how much we love to go to the Story restaurant. And we’re not alone. Yes, the interiors are slightly odd - pretending to be fancy when they're clearly not, and the atmosphere is a bit lacking. But then the food arrives and you’re willing to forget everything. We do have our favorites dishes, and the lobster (and now prawn) bisque is definitely one of them. It’s a dish very close to Zuzi’s heart: velvety and decadent but light and fluffy at the same time, fragrant and full of lobster flavor, this is one of our steady orders at Story, and clearly one of the best soups in town without a shadow of doubt. (BTW, the soups on their weekly lunch menus are incredible, especially considering their laughably low price.)
We may love Café Savoy for their legendary Sunday breakfasts in Prague, but we often come for their “restaurants”, which is a word they use for soups. Now, we even had a late-night-aftert-the-tour tradition: Jan would get the rich, salty and slightly tart lentil soup with grilled sausage, while Zuzi had the pea soup with toasted bread, and we were happy. Until they took the former soup off the menu. Yes, the world is cruel. But their carrot soup is great too: very light, unlike the creamy carrot soups they may serve elsewhere around town, and served with chicken and potato mash, so it may end up tasting more like chicken and mash in a light carrot sauce. The fragrant chicken soup with liver-filled ravioli completes the trio of Savoy's “restaurants”. They do change their soup menu frequently, but no matter what you order, we think this is your best spot for quick soup and a bread basked on the Castle side of the river.
Wine Food Market
We usually come to Wine Food Market, a very lively place that combines an Italian produce shop, bakery and kitchen in a busy market area in the middle of it all, for a quick bite. Although their fresh pasta and other cooked Italian dishes are good (with the exception of the pizza, which is behind the best in town), we tend to go just for a soup, a cheese board, or fritto misto. And the soups are nice, thick, warming and filling - you need just a few spoons to get your fix, but continue anyway because... ehhh, you have more fixin' to do, we guess. Wine Food Market sells a hearty Minestrone that just smells wonderfully of the various root vegetables in it, a daily soup, plus two fish soups: zuppa di pesce and pesce in zuppa, both taking ample advantage of the fresh seafood in the Wine Food Market's fish store. Especially the pesce in zuppa packs lots of fish, along with shrimp and muscles, which means that the CZK 350 price tag gets you a full meal.
Riccardo Luque’s network of La Bottega bistros has been consistently serving some beautiful soups. Last winter, we loved La Bottega Bistroteka's pumpkin soup with gingerbread crumbs. This autumn, their consommé with egg yolk hits the spot, too. The Bottega bistros have been successfully avoiding the temptation to just assemble the old, tired Caprese salads to please the crowds, and have been instrumental in showing also the comforting side of Italian cuisine. And the soups just go to show. (Check out their new location, La Bottega Linka, and their strong consommé with dim sum dumplings, too!)
Sure, Pizza Nuova, a super popular place that tends to be packed whenever you come as families come to dine with kids (and what kid does not like spaghetti or pizza?) or to meet friends, may be one of our favorite places for pizza in town, but we often come for their soup. They just serve one usually. Right now their soup is the classic minestrone pomodoro, and it is great: full of tomatoes, root vegetables and with a hint of pancetta, this is a soup that will easily cure your starting cold. We always get the pizza bread and share it: for less than CZK 100, the copper pot full of hot, steaming, fragrant soup is a steal.
Opened in January 2014 by Hana Michopulu, a famous persona on Prague’s food scene, the Sisters bistro has quickly become a destination as a place to taste a modern itineration of the classic “chebicek”, the traditional Czech open-faced sandwich. That said, we more than often stop by for a small bowl of their daily soup just in the middle of the day, usually combined with one chlebicek we pick at the spot. We love the pea soup with ham broth and croutons, where the sweetness of the peas nicely complements the salty and smoky flavor of the ham. The Italian lentil soup with tomatoes is a close second, while Jan’s mom swears by the carrot soup with ginger and cilantro. If you need a quick soup fix in the centre, this should be on the top of your list.
Yes, there aren’t many things that go better with a cold fall day than a bowl of hot, steaming, fragrant Pho. Luckily, the large Vietnamese community in Prague means that are plenty of opportunities and choices when it comes to the Vietnamese soup.
If you are willing to travel for food, visit Gao Den for a great version with lots of herbs and vegetables. For Hong-Kong-style, don't-look-at-the-kitchen-just-enjoy-the-damn-thing street food Pho, Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan at Jiriho z Podebrad is hard to beat, especially on a cold day, although the sit-down locations at Anglicka and Kodanska streets are nice, too. Trang An (the successor of the Vietnamese stand that really started the whole Vietnamese food trend here in Prague) in the Holesovice market is worth a visit, too. The newly opened branch of Banh Mi Makers in the Dlouha foodie arcade is a clean, kind version, with the nicest meat. But for the most authentic Pho, head over to the Vietnamese Sapa market. It may not be centrally located but you’ll be there in no time, and it does feel like visiting another country.
Polévkárna is a cheap hangout and was good enough to make the selection of our Prague budget eats. But it is still our choice for soup when we’re in the Karlin district, and the place shows you don’t have to skip on clever design when you’re making inexpensive soup. We like the Moroccan Harira soup and borscht, both full of vegetables, and the former with lots of legumes and a bit of heat. We always get the Georgian khachapuri bread with cheese filling to go with the soup, and we’re happy. A clear choice for a quick, cheap bite when in the area.
Hot broths to go
Sometimes you just crave something warm but don't have the time for a quick restaurant visit. (If that actually applies to you, you should have a long look in the mirror and perhaps reconsider your work-life balance, okay?) Anyway, that's where hot broths served in a cup enter the picture. Yes, the latest hip trend on Prague's food scene is getting a paper cup full of steaming, strong broth and just go back to do other fun things in Prague. Hey, that hipster coffee won't drink itself, okay? Where to have it? The Real Meat Society shop in Naplavni shop serves bone broth as a breakfast or ealy lunch option. For strong chicken broth, you must plan a visit to Holesovice and Letna districts, one of the best things to do in Prague in our book, and visit some local favorites like Bistro 8 or The Farm. Finally, the broth by Koko, a popular Czech blogger, is sometimes available at the farmers markets.