SOUP season has arrived.
It's the perfect time to rug up and settle in with a big bowl of goodness to warm up the insides.
Soups are popping up on new season menus for winter, but one cafe in Merewether has gone one better by setting up a dedicated soup bar.
Akuna Cafe in Merewether has between five and six varieties of soup on the menu each day throughout the cooler months, including owner Roz Peel's original creations and recipes from her treasured "soup bible'' that is full of traditional favourites and interesting flavour combinations.
"We do things like chicken kaffir lime, and sweet potato and white bean. Really beautiful and wholesome," Peel says.
"We buy all of our veggies from the farmers markets, so we try and be as farm-fresh as we can be."
All of the stock is made from scratch at the cafe and the weekly rotation of soups always include a vegetarian option which also caters for vegans and the gluten intolerant.
Peel is no strange to soup making. Prior to opening Akuna, she ran a soup delivery business.
"I had a business called the Soup Pirate and I used to deliver soups to all the yachts down in the harbour and to all the single people that were living alone.
"Now the Soup Pirate has just come back into the cafe with that and I have continued it on because I actually really love making soup."
Here's five to try:
40 Patrick Street, Merewether. Soup for days? Yep, Akuna has just that at their soup bar.
Varieties on the rotating menu include mushroom soup, sweet potato, white bean and bacon, cauliflower and leek, and vegetable with chorizo, but cafe owner Roz Peel can't resist a bowl of their popular Thai-style soup which has "just the right amount of heat".
"The favourite soup for me would be the chicken kaffir lime with vermicelli noodles, coconut cream and fresh green chilli. People can't go past it. Some come in for it every second day," she says.
If the sun is shining, eat in on the cafe's outdoor deck, or put in a pre-order for a family-sized serving to take home for dinner.
Akuna is open seven days a week from 7am to 3.30pm.
21 Darby Street, Newcastle (inside Finnegans Hotel). Jamaican street food is the focus of the menu at Winnie's - think jerk chicken and goat curry.
It's a great place to try out flavours you don't see on menus every day in Newcastle. That applies to the soup, too.
Winnie's is serving flavour-packed soups every day throughout winter, which can be eaten in (next to the fireplace is our pick) or ordered as takeaway.
Soups coming up on the menu include oxtail with horseradish cream, jerk spiced chicken noodle soup, slow-braised spiced lamb and lentil, and, for vegans, curried sweet potato with coconut raita, or white bean soup with okra and corn.
Try the curried parsnip soup with coconut yoghurt, curry leaves and pomegranate next time it's on the menu.
Jack's Hideout Cafe and Espresso Bar
103 Tudor Street, Hamilton. They say chicken soup is good for the soul and one of the best ways to combat a winter cold. It's a classic soup that, when its done well, is one of life's simple pleasures.
One cafe that has a reputation for serving up a beautiful bowl of chicken soup is Jack's Hideout. The dish is so popular that it regularly pops back up on the menu for the simple fact that customers keep on asking for it.
Be warned though, as it usually sells out.
The hearty bowl is chock full of chicken, veggies, chick peas and smokey paprika, served with a slice of warm sourdough.
Soups are available Monday to Friday from 11am.
Keep an eye out for their pumpkin and feta soup coming to the menu.
The Icon Thai
2/15 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle. The Icon is a new addition to the dining precinct at Honeysuckle and they're worth a visit for their laksa noodle soup.
The generous bowl is packed full of noodles and the soup packs a nice amount of heat to warm you up.
If you're not a fan of creamy laksa, the menu also includes a tangy Tom Yum Soup with lemongrass, lime juice, mushrooms and fresh herbs, available with a choice of prawns, seafood or chicken.
On a wet day, it's a great spot to huddle inside and watch the rain move across the harbour.
Locations at Bar Beach and Nobbys Beach. Fish and chips is the official dish of summer at Swell Kiosks.
In the cooler months, it's their seafood chowder that keeps crowds coming in for a feed.
The hearty dish full of calamari, fish, salmon and veggies is on the board every day throughout winter.
They also serve a daily soup special alongside the chowder at both locations.
"We keep the seafood chowder on every day and then we rotate the roasted pumpkin soup, which is vegan, cauliflower dahl, which is also vegan, chicken and corn, tomato, chickpea and lentil, and pea and ham," operations manager Tina Bengowski says.
All come served with a homemade cornbread muffin or sourdough.
Swell Kiosks are open seven days a week from 6.30am.