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There’s something innately comforting about a steaming hot bowl of freshly made soup. Especially with the holiday season approaching, it’s natural to seek out comfort foods that warm the soul and body. Shorter days and cooler temperatures can also make soups more appealing to consumers.

Whether you eat soup year-round or enjoy it when the temperature drops, you probably already know that all soups are not created equal. Some places take the time to make fresh stocks and soups from scratch, and that extra effort can make all the difference in the world.

Sadly, far too many restaurants outsource the creation of soups these days. The vast majority of restaurants feature soups that come from bags, cans or the freezer. The soup is reconstituted and heated either when ordered or by simmering all day in a crock. Sure, the cooks may thaw them or even add some more vegetables or other ingredients, but these pre-made soups are often underwhelming, even with those extra touches.

Homemade soups, on the other hand, have a depth of flavor that mass-produced dishes simply can’t replicate. From the ingredients, which can be sourced from local farms and producers, to the texture, thickness and even the color of the finished soup, homemade soups simply blow frozen and canned soups out of the water.

Finding local restaurants that take the time to make their own soup may seem like a daunting challenge. Thankfully, we’ve taken the research out of the process by finding four places at which you can enjoy a fresh cup of the soup du jour.

Fred’s Lunch Bag Deli

Location: 861 6th Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Price: $

Tucked inside a jewelry exchange near Gaslamp and East Village, Fred’s Lunch Bag Deli is a hidden treasure. This tiny eatery has solid reputation among locals as the best place to grab a sandwich or a cup of soup, for good reason. While the location and size of Fred’s Lunch Bag Deli means that they only offer orders to go, they do have a chair where you can sit while waiting for your freshly-prepared lunch, but know that the chair is often occupied by someone else waiting as well.

Fred’s Lunch Bag Deli is proud to offer fresh and delectable sandwiches, as well as salads built with the best produce available, freshly when you order it. Their soups are actually free with any lunch sandwich order, and they rotate daily. Each soup is based on an heirloom recipe and is made with fresh, not frozen ingredients. Some of the soups they offer here include Chicken with Rice, Mediterranean Style, Chicken Noodle, Yellow Lentils and Rice, Chunky Organic Vegetable, Tomato and Rice, Brown Lentils and Rice, and Chicken Fajita with Rice.

Soup is served on a first come, first served basis. The later in the day you visit, the more likely it is that the soup may be sold out. Stop in early and enjoy that free soup with your sandwich.

Hillcrest Sandwich Co.

Location: 3780 5th Avenue, Suite 1 (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Price: $

If you’re in a rush in the Hillcrest area and want a delicious but fast lunch, stop into Hillcrest Sandwich Co. for a great and satisfying meal. They have free parking on site, or you can call ahead and have them deliver your order to a nearby location.

Fresh is the name of the game with Hillcrest Sandwich Company. In fact, they pride themselves on making simple dishes exceptionally well thanks to the quality of their ingredients. Sandwich offerings include turkey breast, roast beef, Italian wine salami, tavern ham, egg salad and pastrami. They also make hot sandwiches, like a BBQ chicken or a meatball sub. Any of their incredible sandwiches will pair perfectly with the fresh soup of the day.

While the offerings change daily, Hillcrest Sandwich Co. knows that some people stop in solely for the soup. They make a point of updating their website daily with the new soups that were made fresh for that day. Common options include Florentine Tortellini, Chicken Noodle and Chicken Florentine. The prices are pretty amazing, too, with an 8-ounce cup running $2.95, a 16-ounce bowl costing $4.65 or a half sandwich with a cup of soup for $5.45.

The Marketplace Deli

Location: 2601 5th Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: $

As the name implies, The Marketplace Deli is also a full market, including liquor, wine and beer. Located in Banker’s Hill, The Marketplace Deli is right next to Balboa Park. It really can be a one-stop shopping experience. You can bring your soup and salad or sandwich back to work or to your home to enjoy.

They bake up fresh pizzas to order here, with scratch-made pizza dough. They sell pizza by the slice as well! They allow you to build your own or order from a list of specialty pizzas. They also make fresh salads from locally sourced ingredients and a range of tasty sandwiches for you to enjoy, including Mortadella, Salami, Corned Beef and Chicken Salad.

The Marketplace Deli takes the time to make their soups from scratch each day on site. Their soups rotate, but they always include the soup of the day on the front page of their website. Some of their popular soups include Lemon Chicken Orzo, French Onion, Vegetable Beef, Chili and Clam Chowder. You can order soup by the cup or bowl. They also sell and XL Soup or Chili, which is 44 ounces of tasty, fresh soup for you to share.


Lit’l Pepper

Location: 8911 Complex Drive, Suite C (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Closed Saturday and Sunday
Price: $

For more than 25 years, Lit’l Pepper has been making up and serving incredible deli sandwiches to people in San Diego. This family-owned and operated eatery prides itself on offering both classic and creatively unique sandwiches made with the freshest ingredients.

As their early opening time implies, Lit’l Pepper serves breakfast, as well as lunch. You can order off the breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m. daily. Options include English muffin sandwiches, croissants and bagels. Their lunch offerings include the expected salads, soups and sandwiches, and many of the items on their menu have unique ingredients or twists to their flavors. There’s a Cuban sandwich with roasted pork and ham, a pulled pork Bahn Mi sandwich, a Thai Beef and even a blue cheese chicken breast sandwich.

Soups vary based on the day. You can order up an 8-ounce cup, a 12- or 16- ounce bowl or a jumbo 36-ounce serving of any of their fresh soups. Some of the soups they offer include Chicken Noodle, Potato Bacon, Tomato Florentine, Black Bean & Lime, White Cheddar Poblano, Chicken Sausage Gumbo, Italian Wedding, Clam Chowder, Lobster Bisque, Chicken Tortilla, Chicken Pot Pie and Split Pea.