Up north, they drink soup to stay warm and pretend they’re not cold and miserable. Here on the Suncoast, it’s all about flavor and our standards run beyond mere temperature. Voters named Pho Cali and its lemongrass bowls winner for this debut challenge, but Columbia Restaurant’s Spanish Bean Soup made a strong showing, garnering a runner-up finish for the restaurant. State Street Eating House took the second runner-up spot with a classic in homemade chicken soup, while Captain Curt’s clam chowder propelled it to a third runner-up finish.

Ryan Stanley (on Pho Cali): Pungent, brilliantly technicolored and full of any variety of delicious meats or veggies, Pho Cali’s Pho is the King of SRQ soup culture. Mary Swanton (on Columbia): Columbia’s Spanish Bean Soup is legendary, with good reason. It’s a perfect blend of flavors and textures and a meal in itself, just the thing for a hearty lunch on a cool winter day. Karina Bogue (on Columbia): Their Caldo Gallego soup is everything a soup should be—beans, potatoes, hearty broth. Yum. It’s not available at every Columbia Restaurant, but it is in Sarasota.