Winter is here in beautiful Hell’s Kitchen. The sky is blue, the birds are chirping, and the cabbies are singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” and other West Side Story tunes. That’s what it feels like after you have any of those soups below on a cold NY day. Let me put this another way… I’m not a soup person. It rarely excites me, and I would never go out of my way for decent soup. So for me to write about soup, it must be something special. This post is 15 years in the making really, and none of these are your average homemade Ratatouille moment grandma soups. For that I recommend grandma! (although I will touch on some of those at the end)
Caldo de Bola at Nano – Perhaps I should have added to the above “Unless your Grandma is Ecuadorian”. A tiny Eucadorian hole in the wall on 10th serves this traditional thing of beauty. Rich, beefy broth with veggies, beef, corn on the cob, yes corn on the cob which is probably the least interesting item in there. The most is a giant plantain dumpling with all sorts of awesome deliciousness inside… more beef, raisins, egg and peanut sauce. Sounds bizarre, but it works
Spicy Ramen at Totto – Home to Ziggy’s first and coincidentally last Ramen, with about 100 in between. Delicious Chicken Paitan broth topped with spicy sesame oil and your choice of chicken or pork belly (I’ve never had the chicken, always pork). I like to sit at the counter at the 51st/10th location where you can also get some apps like Spicy Tuna Don at half price with your ramen (lunch time only I believe). Cash only.
Sukhothai Pork Noodles Soup at Pure Thai Cookhouse– While its hard for me to stay away from the rest of the menu normally, during frozen tundra times, this is the dish of choice. A clean but tangy pork broth with rice noodles, sweet sliced roasted pork, long bean, bean sprout, peanuts, dried shrimp, ground pork, and if thats not enough, topped with pork cracklings. Yes, its busy, YES its delicious. Skip the option to upgrade to the homemade egg noodles and stick to tradition. TRADITION!
Shanghai Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup at Mooncake Foods. Calling this Wonton soup is almost criminal. Whether you generally like Wonton soups or normally pass on them at your neighborhood Chinese takeout in favor of the hot & sour, is irrelevant. Pure, clean chicken broth with a generous amount of fantastically meaty dumplings, and noodles (extra). Perhaps the best cure for the common cold in the hood.
Akamaru Modern at Ippudo. I’ve exchanged eye pleasantries and perhaps tasted a spoon or two, but after a dozen or so visits, I’ve never actually had Ramen at Ippudo that’s not called Akamaru Modern, mainly out of fear. I’ve made it this far, waited this long, not settling for potentially second best. This porky Tonkotsu Ramen with a secret umami paste transforms ramen as we know it. A game changer. While Totto is my quick ramen fix, this one is where I would bring a wife, or a date
Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – I’ve already written about this one in great length. Forget winter! This is the official cure to summer time sadness.
The Rest – Indie Fresh at Gotham West Market got unusual and healthy soups like Borscht that can even make a Babushka blush… a rather shy Babushka. When I’m in the mood for something simple like white bean or split pea soup I head to my friend Anna at Café Ole. Sometimes when I feel naughty, I get Ezra’s terrific split pea with my falafel at Azuri Café. Mocu Mocu serves a most unusual Miso with white bean and Sausage. RIP Bis.Co.Latte, and Holly’s amazing soups