During the crisp, cool days of winter, our food daydreams turn automatically to soup. Warming and nutritious, this fluid blend of ingredients is the ideal way to fend off the cold. Here are some places that take a varied and imaginative approach to this winter staple.

Bay 10 Espresso
This cyclist-friendly cafe, in a converted shipping container a few hundred metres from the Harbour Bridge, serves lunchtime soups designed to warm your bones. Varieties include cauliflower and bacon; kumera; and pea and ham – all served with a side of sourdough.

Bread and Circus
For a nutritious lunch, head for this warehouse space in Alexandria. Although the menu changes daily, soupy fixtures include six-hour organic chicken brown rice congee; and shallot, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and feta. Need an extra shot of warmth? Then sip a cup of tea chosen from its wide selection.

Café Giulia Chippendale
A butcher shop for more than 100 years, this Chippendale joint has kept the original tile work but ditched the raw meat in favour of coffees, salads and, of course, soups. Order from a selection that includes lentil soup; fava with split peas; or fasolatha (Greek bean soup) made with white beans – all served with bread.

Chrysler Cafe Bar
You need to check the soup roster to know what is being served at Chrysler’s Sydney Arcade and Martin Place outposts. With three or four varieties to choose from each day, flavours range from beef goulash and cock-a-leekie, to sweet potato and coconut to be soaked up with a bread roll.

Sydney Arcade, 400 George Street, Sydney and 60 Martin Place, Sydney

Croutons Soup Bar
There’s no shortage of choice at this soup-centric spot. Arrive early and you’ll have your pick of around a dozen soup options, with flavours from around the world such as Mexican chilli, Boston clam chowder, Indonesian chicken soup and Thai tom yum.

MetCentre, 60 Margaret Street, Sydney, Greenwood Plaza, Pacific Highway and Miller Street, North Sydney Miller Street, North Sydney
0433 175 031

Stock Market Kitchen
This popular and healthy cafe serves 10 soups each day. Fresh ingredients are hand-picked each morning at Flemington Markets to make four different stocks each day. The most popular concoction during the winter months is Sardinian couscous soup made with smoked pork sausage, capsicum and eggplant. All are under $10.
Four locations – UNSW, Mathews Arcade Food Court, Kensington; Chifley Tower Plaza, Sydney; ANZ Tower, Sydney; Shop 7, 161 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.

Pompei’s
This Bondi stalwart is mostly known for its pizzas and gelato, but in winter it also dishes up bowls of steaming hot ribollita to punters in search of satisfaction. This thick Tuscan stew is packed with beans, greens and thickened with day-old bread. 126–130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach
(02) 9365 1233

Ryo’s Noodles
As far as soups go, the Japanese version, packed with ramen noodles and flavour, is a pretty satisfying option. This little hole in the wall serves some of Sydney’s best – give the ramen in Tokyo-style soy sauce soup with roast pork a try. But get there early; there is almost always a queue.

Venus Wholefoods
From midday, this Surry Hills hotspot serves steaming soups that are always dairy-free and vegetable-based (although you can add chicken to the mix if you so wish). Flavours are always imaginative, such as roasted butternut with miso, lemongrass and lentils.

Chaco Bar
Although usually devoted to yakitori, this Japanese restaurant has started serving lunchtime ramen for winter. From 12pm–2pm, try either the Fat Soy or the Fish Salt flavour, with gyoza and beer to snack on while you wait. Once the pot is empty, it doesn’t make any more, so get there early.