Chicken Soup With Farro and Dumplings
The inspiration for this soothing bowl comes not from the teachings Marco Canora learned at the knee of his nonna, but rather an admitted childhood obsession with Progresso Chickarina soup. The copper-colored broth achieves its remarkable depth of flavor from a fastidious simmering of beef and turkey as well as chicken. And those so-called dumplings? Tender, gnocchi-size chicken meatballs by another name ($10; 403 E. 12th St., at First Ave.; 646-602-1300).
Hot and Sour Soup With Dumplings
Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop
Everything at this storefront soup shack specializing in the silky rice noodles of China’s southwesternest province, Yunnan, is absolutely delicious. But it’s #27, the invigorating Dumplings with Hot and Sour Sauce, that could clear a sinus at 60 paces ($4.25; 775A 49th St., nr. Eighth Ave., Sunset Park; 718-633-3090).
Singapore kari Laksa
“No one makes this soup like us, it’s an exclusive,” says co-owner Helen Thong. This one also happens to be a favorite of her husband, the chef. And while they won’t reveal any secrets, the appeal is apparent from the first bite: the creaminess of the coconut, the heat of the chile, the explosion of unidentifiable but somehow harmonious spices. And then, of course, there are the thick rice noodles, buried under a cache of chicken, shrimp, fish cake, tofu skin, and egg ($5.75; 82-18 45th Ave., Elmhurst; 718-898-8001).
With a venison version on offer at Wallsé and a pork rendition at Blaue Gans, Kurt Gutenbrunner is New York’s goulash king. To make his goulash soup at Cafe Sabarsky, though, he swaps in beef shin and thins down his mouthwatering paprika-seasoned sauce ($13; 1048 Fifth Ave., at 86th St.; 212-288-0665).
The national soup of Vietnam isn’t hard to come by in Chinatown, but this one stands out for its rich, mellow flavor and beautiful balance. The #1 combination rice-noodle beef soup is heavy on the pinkish eye of round and light on the brisket, with just a sliver of tendon and whisper of omosa, or cow stomach, which, for some, is plenty ($5.50; 157 Mott St., nr. Grand St.; 212-966-3797).
Onion and Bone Marrow Soup
The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
Realizing, perhaps, that a good part of a French onion soup’s appeal lies in the crouton, April Bloomfield, in crazy-genius mode, has tinkered with the toast. Instead of gobbing it with cheese and placing it under the broiler, she fries the bread in what essentially is—and cardiac patients can stop reading now—a whipped bone-marrow butter ($10; 20 W. 29th St., nr. Broadway; 212-679-2222).
There are all kinds of borscht. Thin borscht. Thick borscht. Cold borscht. Even beetless borscht. And then there is Veselka’s borscht, the borschtiest borscht of them all, made with beef stock and pork butt, and designed to lift your spirits even at 3 a.m. ($4.50; 144 Second Ave., at 9th St.; 212-228-9682).
Avgolemono might be the most well-known Greek soup, but it’s not the only one. This rarity, made with semolina pasta, is cooked in tomato-based vegetable broth, then garnished with shredded kasseri, a stringy sheep’s-milk cheese that adds body and chew ($4.50; 19-06 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria; 718-545-4554).
Matzo Ball Soup
New York’s best new matzo-ball soup is found at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, and if you don’t believe us, just ask the man himself. Pre-opening, chef Jim Leiken was trying out all the dishes on the picky Frenchman with little success. “Then I made some matzo-ball soup, and he declared it ‘a perfect 10,’?” says Leiken. What makes it so good? A double-stock broth, schmaltz in the matzo balls, and a judicious, upscale drizzle of parsley oil ($8; 299 Bowery, nr. Houston St.; 212-933-5300).
There are two lentil soups on the menu at this Syrian-Lebanese spot, and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. The cilantro-and-lemon-spiked brown version is delectable, but it’s narrowly outshone by its red brethren, a sturdy and soothing cumin-flavored purée. Order it the way chef-owner Mouhamad Shami eats his: with a scoop of rice-and-lentil mojadara, garnished with strands of fried onion, and drizzled with Shami’s housemade hot sauce ($3.50; 8 Maiden Ln., nr. Broadway; 212-528-4669).
Momofuku Noodle Bar
The dish that launched an empire and sparked a noodle-bar craze. Authentic? Who cares? It’s much more fun to focus on the succulence of the pork shoulder and belly, the oozing egg yolk, and the unctuous, bacon- enriched broth ($16; 171 First Ave., nr. 11th St.; 212-777-7773).
Although pickle soup sounds like the title of a whimsical children’s book, it’s a popular standard among Polish Greenpoint’s soup aficionados, and rightly so. Two bucks buys a hefty bowlful at this friendly social center, where the soup’s rich pork-and-cream base is offset by pickled cucumbers shredded as thin as Goodfellas’ garlic ($2; 177 Kent St., nr. McGuinness Blvd., Greenpoint; 718-349-1033).
A Turkic ethnic group living in China, Uyghurs are Muslims whose food closely resembles the lamb and rice-heavy diet of Central Asian Jews—thus the kinship with the Uzbeki restaurants of Queens. Lagman is common ground, in the form of a bowl of herby lamb broth crammed with meat, vegetables, and supremely springy handmade noodles ($6; 1141 Brighton Beach Ave., nr. Brighton 15th St., Brighton Beach; 718-743-3832).
Alsatian Beer Soup
Bar Room at the Modern
The beer in question is a Belgian pilsner called Bavik, and the smooth, nutmeg-seasoned depths conceal delicate Nantucket Bay scallops and smoky nubbins of Benton’s Tennessee ham hock. Further refinements come in the form of a frothy sour-cream “cappuccino” dappling the surface; a stripe of powder made from crushed pain d’épices, or spice bread; and a couple thin slices of the stuff tucked inside a linen napkin ($16; 9 W. 53rd St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-333-1220).
Ginseng Chicken Soup
Another Arirang opened earlier this year in midtown, but if you’re craving samgyetang, the rice-stuffed chicken-and-ginseng soup, it’s worth a trek out to Flushing. The trio of floral-arm-gartered Golden Girls who run the low-key joint create an air of jolly bonhomie almost as comforting as the steaming iron pot of soup, which is infused with enough garlic to ward off the most pernicious flu strain ($17.95; 137-38 Northern Blvd., nr. Main St., Flushing; 718-661-5454).
* See also: The Absolute Best Chicken Soup in NYC
New England Clam Chowder
What do you get when you cross a French Laundry–trained chef like John Fraser with an old Yankee fish-shack staple? Manila clams rendered unrubbery. Applewood-smoked potatoes. And a black-pepper croissant in lieu of a pack of oyster crackers ($14; 103 W. 77th St., nr. Columbus Ave.; 212-362-3800).
Housemade hominy is showcased in a clean-flavored, comforting pozole based on the Michoacán recipe of one of the tortilla factory’s Mexican cooks: a porky broth also populated by morsels of pernil and add-on garnishes like onion, radish, oregano, and lime. Tortillas play a part, too—fried into tostadas you can crumble on top ($5; 104-05 47th Ave., Corona; 718-699-2434).
Chicken Broth With Market Vegetabables, Dill, and Lime
According to chef Cedric Vongerichten, this soup is all about texture: “the creaminess of the avocado, the crunch of the rye croutons, the bite of the radish.” Not to mention the bracing acidity of the lime, the vibrancy of the lemongrass and lime leaves, and the tingle of the chili peppers. Poured tableside, it’s a heady, almost hedonist broth—concentrated chicken flavor without a shred of actual meat ($12; 176 Perry St., at West St.; 212-352-1900).
Akamaru Modern Ramen
The noodles are housemade and the tonkotsu broth channels that milky, long-cooked pork-bone essence that defines this style. Purists go for the Shiromaru Classic, but we like this spicy upgrade served in a jaunty red bowl ($13; 65 Fourth Ave., nr. 9th St.; 212-388-0088).
Cappelletti in Brodo
Not your garden-variety dumplings, cappelletti are “little hats” filled with veal and Parmesan, floating in a capon broth so intense it might have been simmering for a month ($13.50; 141 E. 57th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-826-7101).
Busecca is a Milanese tripe-and-veggie soup, and what distinguishes this version is the addition of Greenmarket cranberry beans. What’s that you say? Fresh cranberry beans in December? Sort of. Like the squirrel in the fable, chef Steve Connaughton stocked up on the prized legumes, then shelled and froze enough to get him through the winter ($10; 637 Hudson St., at Horatio St.; 212-242-3093).
Before there are no more kosher dairy restaurants left in New York, slip onto a counter stool at this timeworn relic for a bowl of vibrant vegetarian borscht, one of a daily-changing roster that are almost worth buying for the excellent housebaked challah alone ($4.50; 127 Second Ave., nr. St. Marks Pl.; 212-505-8065).
Seafood Flat Noodle
Grand Bo Ky
At the spiffy new location of the Chinatown fixture, the drill is the same: Pick your topping combo, pick your noodle shape, and make excessive use of the red and green house chile sauces. We recommend #5, Seafood Flat Noodle—a steaming bowl of wide rice noodles dense with shrimp, fishballs, and calamari ($5.25; 216 Grand St., nr. Elizabeth St.; 212-219-9228).
Sopa de Tortilla
Two things distinguish this uptown tortilla soup: the pork broth (it’s typically chicken) and a whole fried pasilla perched on the rim. Crumble it into the soup like a pack of Saltines and spice to taste ($5; 1542 Second Ave., nr. 80th St.; 212-717-7800).
Chicken Soup With Mini-Pelmeni
Soup is a specialty at this Russian-Ukrainian café, and so are dumplings. The chicken pelmeni are pretty much perfect, especially afloat in a bowl of dill-flecked chicken broth ($6; 3159 Coney Island Ave., nr. Brighton Beach Ave., Brighton Beach; 718-616-0494).
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).
Chef Mimi Kitani’s tangy take on kuba, one of the various soups she grew up eating as the Israeli-born daughter of a Moroccan mother and Iraqi father, features robust beef-stuffed farina dumplings afloat in a vibrant broth that’s light in body but rich in fresh beety flavor ($11; 1209 Cortelyou Rd., nr. Westminster Rd., Ditmas Park; 718-284-4444).
Sliced Fish Sauce Soup
Is it a soup? A stew? A sauce? The entrée, easily enough for two, is actually more like a bubbling pool of impossibly tasty red chili oil, with bobbing slices of tilapia and a taunting flotilla of red chili peppers. Order it “spicy with hot oil.” Bring tissues ($19; 15 Seventh Ave. S., nr. Leroy St.; 212-645-0222).
Hue-Style Chicken Soup
Tien Ho’s makeshift menu at the Chambers Hotel mezzanine puts a characteristic Momofuku spin on the room-service roster. Take this chicken noodle, for instance, scented with star anise and cinnamon, brightened with lemongrass and chiles, and given a subtle fish-sauce funk ($12; 15 W. 56th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; no phone).
Caldo de Bola
“Bola” means ball in Spanish, and to the soup-loving population of Ecuador and diners at this burgeoning Queens chainlet, it refers to a green plantain–shelled sphere that looks like an overgrown arancino and contains what seems to be the contents of an entire Latino beef stew: cubes of meat, peas and carrots, shards of hard-boiled egg ($9.99; 36-10 Greenpoint Ave., Long Island City; 718-392-2734).
Chief among the myriad charms of this curried noodle soup, also known as Chiang Mai noodles for the northern Thai city that specializes in it, is the velvety creaminess of its coconut curry broth, enlivened by a turmeric-and-coriander-spiked curry paste. Noodles appear two ways: submerged in the broth, and fried into a bird’s-nest garnish ($9.50; 149 W. 4th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-228-4267).
Sancocho de Rabo
This tiny Dominican redoubt is part lunchroom, part clubhouse, and, it seems, a regular stop on the bootleg-DVD-(and, oddly, vitamins)-hawking circuit. Do not let the thrice-hourly solicitations distract you from the comforting sancocho, the Latin American soup-stew featuring hunks of oxtail and a trio of tubers—yuca, yautía, and plantain ($8; 3822 Broadway, nr. 159th St.; 212-781-8494).
This Malaysian noodle soup pulls no punches. It’s fishy, sour, and sweet all at once, an unfamiliar flavor profile that somehow integrates ingredients as disparate as anchovy, sardines, tamarind, Vietnamese mint, and pineapple ($11; 15 E. 17th St., nr. Broadway; 212-206-8989).
Of all the rib-sticking beef soups on offer at this kosher Uzbeki canteen, kharcho is the one to get. It’s a comforting bowl of beef-vegetable-and-rice soup, where you’d least expect to find it—up three flights in the middle of the Diamond District ($4; 41 W. 47th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-768-8001).
Zuppa Di Zucca
Fortunato Nicotra’s butternut-squash soup excels not only in flavor (via the bacon-amped sofrito base), but in texture: nice, chewy fregola, plus a handful of exquisite zolfini beans from Tuscany. It’s a squash soup that eats more like a pasta e fagiole ($14; 243 E. 58th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-758-1479).
Chicken Tortilla Avocado Soup
The most popular soup on Shopsin’s roster, with a not-so-secret ingredient: cabbage, browned to release its inherent sweetness. It’s a great complement to the Mexican flavors, including the spookily precise amount of hot peppers the peevish soup maven calibrates to his “How spicy do you want it?” scale ($15; 120 Essex St., nr. Delancey St.; no phone).
Sol Long Tang
Gahm Mi Oak
This mild, soothing oxbone broth, simmering away for hours in industrial-size drums, contains brisket and rice noodles and is meant to be liberally doctored with the sea salt and scallions deposited on every table ($9.97; 43 W. 32nd St., nr. Broadway; 212-695-4113).
Billi-bi is an elegant, old-fashioned luxury soup made from cream and mussels, and it’s a shame it’s going the way of the pike quenelle. Which is why it’s nice to see it revived at this historic saloon ($13; 113 MacDougal St., at Minetta Ln.; 212-475-3850).