8 Soups To Keep You Warm When Your Puffer Isn’t Enough
photo credit: Soup Queen
If you ask us, soups don’t get as much shine as they should. Sure, the average person will call on some chicken noodle when they’re sick, but soup is rarely the star of the menu, often relegated to the starter section. (Of course, ramen and phở are essentials with their own lists.) But we see you, soups. Here are some of our favorites, from matzo ball to gumbo, as well as something spicy for when the time comes to clear your sinuses.
Hav & Mar is a seafood restaurant by Marcus Samuelsson that brings something truly different to the city: inventive food inspired by Samuelsson's Ethiopian and Swedish roots, with a handful of other influences from around the world. If you’re not sure where to start, try their take on she-crab soup. This style of chowder was originally a Charleston thing known for its creamy tomato-based broth, and Hav & Mar transforms it into something in between a spicy curry and a tomato bisque, with papaya and puffed black rice on top.
There are two areas in which New York falls short (yes, only two). One is getting the C-train to show up, and the other is having enough Burmese restaurants for you to eat some sweet and sour mohinga whenever you feel like it. Fortunately, Little Myanmar in the East Village specializes in this fish noodle soup. The fish and lemongrass flavors balance each other out like an old married couple, helping the bowl of seafood, thick noodles, lotus root, and crispy lentils come together. It’s light but not too thin, and completely refreshing.
Brooklyn’s Soup Queen started hawking soups like tuscan white bean and lavender vichyssoise in 2020, before starting a delivery service and on-going pop-up at Gunther’s inside Farewell Bar in Bushwick. We don’t have one soup to highlight here—they’ve got a high enough batting average for us to get excited about whatever new flavors they’re cooking up this week. (Past favorites have included paella soup and elote chowder.) You can find Soup Queen at Gunther's every day of the week. See their latest selections and more places they’ll be popping up here.
Hap-Cheon Pork Soup
Why get a soup with cuts of pork like tenderloin or sparerib when you can get one filled with jowl, picnic shoulder, and stomach? Ariari, an East Village Korean spot from the Palpal team, tosses a ton of those pig parts into a bowl of slightly spicy, comforting clear broth, which is placed on a flame so it can be kept simmering on your table. A chive salad and rice come on the side, and we suggest mixing in some of the latter so you get congee-like bites. In addition to this soup, you’ll want to order the octopus sook-hwe and lamb-stuffed fried peppers, so bring friends.
Fish Pepper Soup
The fish pepper soup at Buka is not f*cking around. Your waiter will bring you a bowl of broth with a whole fish in it—a tilapia that’ll stare straight into your soul and ask you how it got here. You’ll understand the tilapia’s plight when you take on a mix of spices and habañeros that’ll leave you staring straight ahead in shock too. Fish pepper soup is supposedly one of the world’s hottest dishes, and Buka’s version is certainly formidable, but the delicate, flaky fish deserves a mention too. You can also get this soup with goat.
If you weren’t one of the lucky few who got tickets to BLACKPINK’s NYC show last summer (they sold out within a few minutes), you can drown your sorrows in a bowl of soup from this year’s second most exciting visit by way of Korea. Seoul-based restaurant Okdongsik is in NYC for a couple months in collaboration with HAND hospitality (Atomix, Her Name Is Han). They specialize in pork gomtang served gukbap-style, and their version is a particularly delicate soup with a light, clear broth and super thin pieces of pork. The 10-seat Koreatown pop-up only serves this one soup, making it the perfect pit stop this rainy season.
Matzo Ball Soup
Sarge’s feels like a cross between a Jewish Deli and a diner in all the best ways. The softball-sized matzo ball is a little less fluffy than some others, but we love it, and there are also noodles involved. The seasoning is on the lighter side, but that’s what gives it a homestyle flavor, as though the cook in the back knows that your grandpa is watching his sodium intake. Portions here are huge, so come with a friend and be prepared to share. Check out our guide to The Best Matzo Ball Soup In NYC for more of our favorites.
Chicken & Andouille Gumbo
Kjun, one of The Best New Restaurants Of 2022, serves Cajun food with a Korean twist, and their chicken-and-andouille gumbo has that slightly nutty and bitter flavor you look for in a dark roux broth. This broth has a chocolatey color with just the right amount of heat in addition to chicken that falls apart with every dip of your spoon. Don’t ignore the crunchy okra kimchi that comes on the side. It’s the ideal thing to eat between bites of gumbo.