I haven't been told enough lately that I'm wrong about everything and possibly responsible for some sort of internet war crime (other than by animal liberationists, and they don't count). Let's rectify that by talking about which soups are awesome and which are complete horseshit, shall we?
First, some ground rules. We're excluding anything intended as a full meal on its own merits: things like stew, ramen, gumbo, cioppino, pho (apparently I need to a shine a fucking bat signal for this into the sky for readers to actually see that I addressed pho right from the fucking start), and the like. Cock-a-leekie soup isn't on here, because come on, the Scottish are pranksters and that's a joke food. We're also excluding some fairly popular soups I've never had, like Menudo (which I honestly thought was just a band). That said, here are your definitive (according to one rando dingus), all-inclusive (in no way is that true), scientifically rigorous (not even a little bit) soup rankings:
31. French Onion Cheddar
This isn't a real thing. I know it's not a real thing. But a well-meaning chef at one place I worked once made this as the soup of the day, possibly due to a bout of temporary insanity. It was basically beef stock and onions with nacho cheese dumped in it.
I feel like you're reading that and you're thinking "well, that sounds gross." No. No, it was not gross. It was a nightmare from which I still cannot escape, a blackness that drags at my soul even now. I was the only server willing to even try it, and I may have blacked out for a few seconds, during which I saw a vision of humanity's end at the hands of a tidal wave of liquid plastic cheese. When I awoke, I was forever altered.
Someone tried to order it and I actually shouted at them "PLEASE DO NOT ORDER THE SOUP OF THE DAY."
30. Tomato Basil
Like you're surprised? Don't bring up grilled cheese. Seriously, knock it off with the grilled cheese. "But how can you eat a grilled cheese without soaking it in tomato corpse-juice?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!1111?!?!?!?one"
Without needing to stop to dry-heave, that's how.
White people, we need to talk about this pumpkin thing. We're at the point where we're literally rioting over a food that tastes like old gym socks, and that is some coocoo for Cocoa Puffs shit. Personally, I blame Starbucks for tricking people into thinking pumpkin is remotely edible. Pumpkins are the worst thing about Fall, and pumpkin soup is the worst thing about pumpkins (somehow narrowly edging even pumpkin pie). Pumpkin soup is a pumpkinception, is all I'm saying.
It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold, it's beet soup. There is no universe in which beet soup tastes good.
27. Corn Chowder
I don't care what anyone says, corn meshes with no other flavor in existence. It just makes things taste like corn. Fuck corn. COME AT ME,
KANSAS FINE, Iowa, Jesus Christ, Kansans, calm the fuck down (you still grow a shitload of corn, don't even pretend).
26. Beer Soup
Hahaha no. Just no.
Says Kinja user jennyapples: "I always feel like I should like Gazpacho, but it leaves me feeling cold." *rim shot*
24. Cold Melon
Who came up with this shit? Melons are gross enough to begin with, and liquefaction does not improve them. This is the most ill-conceived idea since Adam Sandler's career.
23. Split Pea
Who first farted in a bowl of Dickensian gruel and called it soup? Because I'm pretty sure that in terms of a lasting contribution to human culinary endeavor, they sit at the opposite end of the spectrum from the first guy to look at a lobster and go "man, that giant sea spider looks DELICIOUS." We should all be grateful to Lobster Guy for his intrepid bravery, but Split Pea Person deserves nothing but scorn.
22. Hot and Sour
Look, I've never drunk sheep's urine before, but I would imagine it tastes a lot like hot and sour soup.
21. Manhattan Clam Chowder
I would like to meet the person who decided to take a perfectly good clam chowder and ruin it with tomatoes, and then I would like to force that person to watch every episode of the Sh*t My Dad Says TV show on an endless loop for the rest of eternity. This shit isn't even from Manhattan, it's from Rhode Island, aka the There's a Reason You Know Nothing About Us State.
Look, tomato soup is bad enough, but turning it into rigatoni soup somehow, seemingly against the physical laws of possibility, makes it worse. The need to pastify all the things is a particularly bizarre form of OCD you see a lot in Italian cuisine, and this is the rare occasion where it's not a good thing.
19. Navy Bean
The Meh From La Mehcha.
The Amazing Spider-Meh/Marathon Meh/The Secret Life of Walter Meh.
16. Broccoli and Cheese
Broccoli and cheese is weird, because if you're in the specific mood for it, it's great, but if you aren't, it tastes like someone murdered a vegetable garden, soaked it in rancid dairy ooze, and shotgunned it into your mouth. If I have a craving for sushi and somehow wind up with a bowl of french onion soup, my disappointment will extend only so far (usually only to the first spoonful of cheese). If I wind up with broccoli and cheese in that exact same scenario, my mouth becomes a deleted scene from Apocalypse Now.
15. Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum kind of tastes like lemon-scented dish detergent, so you'd have to be into that sort of thing. I mean, it's good as far as lemon-scented dish detergent goes, but you're still eating herbed dish detergent. It's not bad, but Pine-Sol soup isn't really my thing.
14. Chicken Noodle
America, we need to face facts: chicken noodle soup is mediocre at best. I don't care how many times your mom made it for you when you were sick, we're adults now, and it's time to acknowledge it's just not that good.* I feel about chicken noodle soups the way I feel about elbows; they serve their purpose, but people who seem genuinely excited by them are weird as hell.
13. Black Bean
It's weird that black bean soup isn't terrible, considering black beans themselves. Why is that? Is it that they no longer taste like tiny black sandbags? Is it that they no longer look like enormous spider eggs? Hey, enjoy your burrito now that you have that mental image firmly implanted in your brain.
12. Butternut Squash
I'm always torn on butternut squash soup, because I detest butternut squash to the core of my being. On the other hand, if you soupify** it, it actually becomes pretty good. Still not better than any of the top 10, but pretty good.
Be aware that we're about to cross the threshold; don't accuse me of ranking any of the rest of these "low," because they're all delicious and it's a matter of degrees.
11. Baked Potato
I asked a friend with dietary restrictions and digestive issues to describe baked potato soup. Here's what I got:
"The best thing about it is that it takes everything wonderful about a baked potato, but purifies it to the point where none of that pesky chewing gets in the way, allowing you to down five times as much. The worst part is three hours later when you remember that you're lactose intolerant."
10. Egg Drop
Egg drop is weird in that it looks like it should be horrifying, but when you put it in your mouth your body starts screaming "YES PLEASE PUT MORE OF THAT IN ME."
There are about twenty different ways I could follow up that comment, and I'm pretty sure all of them would get me fired.
9. Cream of Mushroom
Here's the problem with Cream of Mushroom: when it's done right (e.g. from a homemade recipe), it's delicious enough that it belongs in the top five. When it's done wrong (e.g. every single instance of canned cream of mushroom in the history of time), it tastes like poverty and feet. We're putting it here on balance.
8. Italian Wedding
So. Italian wedding soup. Yeah. It's...I mean, it's good. It's tasty. Sure. Lot of...um...herbs and...look, do you have anything interesting to say about Italian wedding soup? Because I've got jack shit, here.
7. Matzoh Ball
There's no logical reason this should be better than chicken noodle soup, yet here we are. All I know is, I could eat a meal of several bowls of this stuff, and that's faintly incredible considering how simple it usually is. Most of the time you're dealing with two primary components (broth, delicious wad of what appears at first glance to be ground-up packing peanuts), so it's amazing that something so simple is also so good.
Miso may not be the most interesting soup, but there's something really elegant in its simplicity. I can't say I ever really crave miso soup, but I've never been unhappy with it, either. I've never finished a bowl and gone "well, that was disappointing." There's something to be said for that. It's satisfying while still leaving you incredibly excited about eating a shrimp boat full of sushi. That's some Hogwarts shit right there.
5. New England Clam Chowder
Poor New England Clam Chowder. You were on the Soup Mount Rushmore until I remembered that Lobster Bisque exists. So, so close.
You're about to read one of the very, very few positive things I'll ever type about Pittsburgh's food scene: this city has the best clam chowder I've ever eaten, and I went to New England regularly as a kid. I'm as shocked as you are. They don't even try to put french fries on it, or unnecessary tomatoes,*** or anything. I know — I don't get it either.
You can't make me choose between these next four. I love each of them more than I could ever love any theoretical children I might have. They are all tied for best.
1a. Lobster Bisque
Delicious enough that I'm willing to believe there's witchcraft afoot, possibly involving the ritual sacrifice of a carton of heavy cream and some shallots.
1b. French Onion
I genuinely do not understand fellow human beings without dietary restrictions who don't enjoy french onion soup. I just...how? How can you not?
1c. Cream of Crab
One guess which state invented cream of crab soup. Look, Maryland, if you guys keep coming up with delicious things to do to crab, I'm really going to have to re-think this whole "hating Baltimore" thing.****
1d. Tom Kha Gai
Coconut may be a chalky wad of hatred/possibly a cryptozoological testicle, but coconut milk is the nectar of the divine. God help you if you sully the Tom Kha with tomatoes (I will give you one guess which American city I've seen do this).
* Dear everyone about to say "but you just haven't had GOOD chicken noodle soup!": don't. Stop. You are patronizing, you are wrong, and worst of all, you are boring.
** Fuck you, it's a word now, dammit.
*** I swear to God we found a place last night whose "caesar" salad included tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, AND olives. I imagine the creation of that menu involved a chain-smoking "chef" saying something along the lines of "What's dat 'caesar' yer talkin' baht? It ain't got enough shit in it, trow some more veggies in ere. Write dis dahn — at dis rate, we'll be done wit dis menu in a coupla ahrs."
**** No I'm not.
Image via Ryan Carter/Shutterstock.