The Spotted Pig
Gnudi, yes. A lunchtime Cubano, sure. The Roquefort burger, absolutely. No one, however, goes to the Spotted Pig looking for tomato soup. But they should. Crème fraîche mingled with smoked tomatoes gives it heft and body; garlic and chives piquancy. Simple but transcendent ($15; 314 W. 11th St., at Greenwich St.; 212-620-0393).
Hand-pulled Noodle With Beef in Hot & Spicy Soup
Of the proliferating Lanzhou hand-pulled-noodle specialists, Super Taste remains the champ, primarily thanks to this precise chile-spiked soup (#2 on the menu) and a broth that boasts the silky mouthfeel stock aficionados associate with the simmering of gelatin-rich delicacies like calf’s knuckles and pig’s feet ($4.50; 26N Eldridge St., nr. Canal St.; 212-625-1198).
Miso Soup With Sea Urchin and Lobster
Presented like a gift in a traditional urushi-lacquered covered bowl, this is one luxury miso: witness lobster-dashi stock; uni bouillon base made with miso paste and truffle oil; and an à la minute garnish of sliced myoga ginger shoots and chives. The umami-rich broth should be sipped directly from the cup, out of respect for both the soup and the vessel ($10; 357 Sixth Ave., nr. Washington Pl.; 212-414-3088).
This vegetarian rendition of the imperial relic combines puréed and whole red lentils with enough spices (green chiles, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and black pepper) to merit the derivation of its name—“pepper water” in Tamil. Floating atop is a piquant garnish of preserved lemon, red onion, cilantro stems, and a couple crimson turnip wedges pickled in beet juice ($9; 316 Bowery, at Bleecker St.; 212-254-0350).
Estelle’s Chicken Soup
Fred's at Barneys NY
The perfect restorative for the prototypical Barneys shopper and lunching lady: a chicken soup without a single noodle, matzo ball, or other offending carb, and heavy on the high-protein chicken. Or, as the menu puts it, “Grandma’s recipe to cure colds and stay thin” ($11; 660 Madison Ave., at 61st St.; 212-833-2200).
Oyster Pan Roast
Grand Central Oyster Bar
Half-and-half, butter, sweet paprika, a dash of Worcestershire, and a slice of white bread. If you’ve got that and a half-dozen Bluepoints, you could whip up a batch at home. But then you’d miss the gentleman in the chef’s smock and the paper hat cranking the fantastic contraption known as a steam-sleeved swivel pot, which must have been something like the sous-vide immersion circulator of its day ($10.45; Grand Central Terminal; 212-490-6650).
In much the way that Marseille is not known for its pastrami, New York is not a bouillabaisse town. No matter. Not when we have Alain Allegretti’s transporting fish soup at our disposal. Redolent of saffron and garlic and the heady perfume of expertly boiled fish carcasses, it comes in a tiny white bowl but contains an ocean’s worth of flavor ($12; 46 W. 22nd St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-206-0555).
French Onion Soup
A cheese lover’s rendition that employs no fewer than three types of fromage—Gruyère, Emmental, and Parmigiano-Reggiano—that ooze over the rim of the crock in crusty profusion ($12.50; 2 Park Ave., nr. 32nd St.; 212-725-8585).
Hot Yogurt Soup
This lemony potage gets its tang not from citrus but from the combination of mint and butter mingled with yogurt. It’s what chef Orhan Yegen calls a high-mountain soup, and it’s huge, he says, among mountain-dwelling Turkish sheepherders. But Turtle Bay lowlanders like it, too ($6; 928 Second Ave., nr. 49th St.; 212-583-1900).
Tarallucci e Vino
Scrippelle ’mbusse (or wet crêpes) are Abruzzo’s toothsome answer to tortellini en brodo, and the version available at this Flatiron wine bar just might be the last word on the subject. The crêpes are made from tissue-thin sheets of egg-rich dough, sprinkled with Parmesan and rolled up like a fashion-dandy’s silk pocket square ($10; 15 E. 18th St., nr. Broadway; 212-228-5400).
Tom Kha Gai
What makes this version of the classic Thai coconut-milk-based chicken soup better than any other? This Queens institution utterly nails the crucial balance of flavors, as they do on the rest of their menu, forging a creamy, sweet-hot-and-sour triumph out of ingredients like oyster mushrooms, galangal, lime juice, and chiles ($8.50; 64-13 39th Ave., Woodside; 718-899-9599).
Pappa al Pomodoro
Florentines have always known, from the most banal ingredients—stale bread, some peeled and canned tomatoes put up for the winter—comes the best soup. So it goes without saying that Rita Sodi prepares the dish the way her mother made it, and cooks it down until it reaches the perfect consistency: “a little mushy” ($9; 105 Christopher St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-414-5774).
Men Kui Tei
As steamy and authentic a ramenya as you’d hope to find in New York, with an aged kitchen crew that are the noodle-slinging equivalent of the Peter Luger waitstaff. The Tan-tan ramen is the one to get, topped with chile-infused ground pork and housing a profusion of crinkly noodles as springy as a diving board ($8.50; 60 W. 56th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-757-1642).