We’re well into fall, and as the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we’re starting to crave something warm and comforting. New York has bragging rights to some of the most imaginative chefs in the country, many with a standout soup, using the season’s peak ingredients, like pumpkin and kale in innovative ways. From the spicy chicken ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar to Kin Shop’s one-of-a-kind pork meatball soup or Boulud Sud’s Moroccan-spiced pumpkin soup, there’s a bowl for every appetite. Here’s our favorites for 2011 to see you through the season.
Kin Shop – Steamed Pork Meatball Soup
Address: 469 6th Ave., btwn. 11th & 12th Sts.
Phone: (212) 675-4295
Harold Dieterle revealed his adoration of Southeast Asian cooking at his first restaurant, Perilla, but he’s taken it up a notch with Kin Shop. His modern and imaginative approach to Thai cuisine give you a chance to branch out from the usual pad Thai and jungle curry. Dieterle fuses traditional Thai flavors with Western ingredients, like snap peas and sea scallops sprinkled with toasted coconut, or Thai curry noodles with braised brisket. One of the best dishes this winter happens to be the steamed pork meatball soup blends American comfort food with Asian flavors. Tender, basil and chili-spiced meatballs bob in a ginger-tinged broth with baby bok choy and crispy garlic. What do you pair with soup? A craft beer from Kin Shop’s interesting, global selection.
Marea – Brodetto Di Pesce
Address: 240 Central Park South, nr. Broadway
Phone: (212) 582-5100
It’s not often a bowl of soup comes with a $47 price tag. Then again, it’s rare that’s one is as outstanding as Marea’s brodetto di pesce (pictured above). Seriously. Michael White knows his way around all kinds of Italian cooking, but this midtown seafood mecca is his tour de force. While we don’t usually opt for soup over homemade pasta or grilled whole fish, we make an exception here. Marea’s brodetto comes in an X-large bowl, brimming with exquisitely fresh mussels, shrimp, langoustine, scallops, and wild striped bass, all luxuriating in a fragrant broth with fennel and tomato. While it’s a bit of a splurge, we think it’s well worth it. Photo Credit: Evan Sung
Balthazar – Onion soup gratinee
Address: 80 Spring St., btwn. Broadway & Crosby Sts.
Phone: (212) 965-1414
When it’s comfort food you’re after, you can’t do much better than a French onion soup with warm, gooey cheese and crusty bread. When we want the classic onion soup gratin, we head directly to Balthazar in Soho. In a city where restaurants sometimes seem to come and go with the seasons, this French brasserie still manages to draw crowds after nearly 15 years. Melting caramelized onions are simmered in chicken stock, finished with port, and topped with a slice of crusty bread and plenty of melted Gruyere, satisfying your cravings for sweet, salty, rich and cheesy all at the same time. Order a side of fries, and if you’ve got room to spare, finish with their sensational tarte tatin.
Momofuku Noodle Bar – Spicy chicken ramen
Address: 171 First Ave., btwn. 10th & 11th Sts.
When you think of David Chang’s noodle bar, the Momofuku ramen may be the first dish that comes to mind, and while it may be tough to pass up Berkshire pork belly and shredded pork, the spicy chicken ramen is worth the leap of faith. If you need a little more convincing, just imagine chicken, which is first smoked then, confuted in pork fat, and cooked a la plancha. so it’s tender inside and crisp on the edges. We’re obsessed with the texture and intense flavor it lends to the broth. Smoked chili flakes add heat, and it’s topped off with kale, nori, sliced scallion and finished with a poached egg. Big enough to be a meal on its own, Momofuku’s is the most exciting twist on chicken soup we’ve seen this season.
Balaboosta – Hamusta (Kibbe Meatball Soup)
Address: 214 Mulberry St.
Phone: (212) 966-7366
We first got to know Einat Admony’s cooking at Taim, a standout falafel joint in the West Village. But if you’re in the market for a setting as homey as the food, Balaboosta is smart bet. The walls are lined with family photos and bookshelves cluttered with cookbooks. As for the menu, there’s three kinds of sangria and abundantly flavorful Middle Eastern dishes, including homemade hummus made and served in a mortar and pestle, fried olives and labne, and crispy cauliflower with currants and pine nuts. One of our newest and best discoveries is Balaboosta’s “hamusta” soup, available on the lunch menu. What arrives at the table is a bowl filled with kibosh, or Middle-Eastern meatballs, made from semolina, grass-fed beef and spices, served in a tangy broth flavored with fava beans, Swiss chard, and lemon.
Dovetail – Clam chowder
Address: 103 West 77th St., at Columbus Ave.
chef Dovetail, you’ll find tirelessly creative American cooking with colorful and eye-catching presentations thanks to chef/owner John Fraser. In fact, this Upper West Side destination earned its first Michelin star this year and while we hear Fraser may be opening his next spot in Brooklyn, we’re content to dine at Dovetail, for the clam chowder alone (pictured right). Fraser’s New England-style bowl comes scattered with razor and littleneck clams, as well as chorizo and diced vegetables almost as pretty to look at as it is to eat. It’s served with a flaky, black pepper croissant, so you don’t have to leave any of the thyme-scented soup behind.
Boulud Sud – Ras el hanout pumpkin soup
Address: 20 West 64th St., btwn. Broadway & Central Park West
Phone: (212) 595-1313
It’s no secret that pumpkin is one of our biggest obsessions this time of year and we found a new, favorite bowl at Mediterranean newcomer, Boulud Sud this fall. Daniel Boulud offers up a Middle Eastern twist on pumpkin soup, seasoned with a Moroccan spice blend of clove, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Then, it’s thickened with Greek yogurt for a hearty, luscious soup. Follow up that up with sardines escabeche and a bottle of wine and you won’t care how cold it is outside.