Category Archives: Brooklyn

50 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – In a Pickle? Cook Your Way Out

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If I lived close by, I could see myself going there a lot.  You can’t beat $2 for a homemade bowl of soup.  It’s cheaper than a can at the grocery store!  But there’s no reason to make a special trip just for the soup.

FINALLY!!!!!  Last soup entry!  I can hardly believe it.

Unfortunately, the actual journey to eating the final soup at PSC (Polish Slavic Center) Cafeteria in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was not what I had hoped for.  I wanted to go out with a bang.  I wanted to have a feast with a bunch of friends.  I wanted the soup to be unique.  It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, after all.

But, since I was in a rush to finish the last few soups during my last few days in NYC, I knew I was going to have to finish this alone.  I saved the pickle soup at PSC for last since it was the most unique – one that I had never heard of before this.  So, at least I was going to have one wish fulfilled.

…or so I thought.

I called the restaurant an hour before I was heading over.  In a thick Polish accent that I could barely understand, the woman said, “No pickle soup.  We have…”

#$(@_$!  I couldn’t understand what soup she said she had left, but I had to go to the restaurant anyway.  I would have no other time, unless I wanted to wait ’til my next NYC visit.

PSC Cafeteria's Barley Soup

Arriving just 20 minutes before they closed, I ordered the one soup they had left – Barley Soup ($2).  More chicken soup with barley instead of noodles.  Exciting.

Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots, Barley & More!

For $2, you get a really large portion filled with carrots, celery, dill, onion, barley, chicken and potato.  The potato made the soup thicker and cloudier than other brothy versions, and, I have to say, I enjoyed it.  It didn’t blow my mind, but it felt very homey.

It was, however, still not a pickle soup.  And that’s why I decided to try making a Polish dill pickle soup myself last night.  Being a pickle lover, I had to know what I missed out on.  And, even though I absolutely love pickles, to the point I get serious cravings for them (I’ve had to stop at a grocery store after drinking one night to pick up a jar), I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like this.  Would it be like drinking the juice from the jar?

I got this recipe from Food.com that lots and lots of reviewers, including ones with Polish relatives, raved about:  http://www.food.com/recipe/polish-dill-pickle-soup-138138.

*******************************************************************

Ingredients

      • 6 cups vegetable stock or 6 cups chicken stock or 6 cups beef stock
      • 4 large dill pickles, shredded
      • 1/2 cup pickle juice, from the pickle jar
      • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced potatoes
      • 2 tablespoons instant flour
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1 eggs
      • 2 tablespoons soft butter

Garnish

    • chopped fresh dill
    • sour cream
    • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan or soup pot with cover, combine stock, pickles, pickle liquid & potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered, over low heat until potatoes start to get soft (about 10 minutes).
  2. Combine flour and milk, add to broth, bring to a boil and remove from heat.
  3. Combine egg and butter and stir into broth.
  4. Return pot to the stove and heat through without boiling. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sour cream and or dill.
*******************************************************************

Here’s what I changed:
– I made my own beef broth, using beef neck bones.  Note:  PSC Cafeteria apparently uses a pork broth base.
– I chopped the potatoes into small cubes, and then mashed them in the pot after they got soft.
– Instead of whole milk, I used fat-free milk (some other reviewers did, too).
– Instead of whole sour cream, I used fat-free sour cream.

I served it as an appetizer for me and JM, and I could tell JM was skeptical.  I was, too.

Polish Dill Pickle Soup - Made by Yours Truly

I didn’t notice the heart-shaped sour cream dollop until I was taking the photo.  Interesting, eh?  I sure as heck put a lot of love into this.  Too bad I didn’t want to finish my bowl.  I really did feel like I was drinking pickle juice and cream, and I was conscious of the fact that all the dairy would really mess up my stomach later (and it did).  I wonder if people who love dirty martini’s would like this.  JM didn’t say “Mmmmmmmm,” but he didn’t object either.  He was even going to take the leftovers for lunch today!

Does PSC Cafeteria’s pickle soup taste similar?  Does it taste a lot better?  I’m still curious.

So there you have it.  The adventure has come to an end.  I’ve obviously learned about some new soups, but, mostly, I think I’ve confirmed that you can’t always believe what the magazines or “professionals” say.  You may not even agree with what I’ve said.  But I’m glad that New York magazine published the December 2009 issue.  It got me to try new things and experience new places.  So yay to that!

Perhaps I’ll see you on my next blog.  Until then, remain SOUPer!  ;op

~ Tynee

PSC Cafeteria
177 Kent Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
718-349-1033

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!

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40 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Kuba Soup at Mimi’s Hummus: Good and Filling But Not the Highlight

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Make the tasty kubbeh smaller and then let it float in the broth, or serve the kubbeh sans broth?  Or would that be blasphemy?

From the name, Mimi’s Hummus would seem to only serve hummus.  But, while the menu does feature a variety of hummus (definitely some creamy goodness), it features a few other items that will rock your world.

I went there for brunch one weekend afternoon with JM, hoping that they’d serve the Kuba Soup ($11), but I was out of luck…sorta.  I didn’t get the soup, but I got a really freakin’ spectacular brunch.

The next night, JM and I went back for dinner since I was told they served the soup at dinner only.  The waitress informed me that the soup was good enough as an entree, and she sure as heck wasn’t lying.  Kuba (or Kubbeh) are meat dumplings which are apparently a specialty of Jews from Kurdistan.  They’re filled with ground beef, spices and usually pine nuts (although I’m not sure Mimi’s Hummus used the nuts).

Kuba Soup at Mimi's Hummus

In a shallow bowl, Mimi served three very hefty and dense dumplings within a light, slightly sweet and vinegary beet broth.  They were surrounded by chunks of beets that were, thankfully, not too soft or mushy.

The Meat

The kubbeh reminded me of ground beef empanadas or Jamaican beef patties, but better.  I had two thoughts while chowing down:  1)  I wish they brought it out steaming hot, as opposed to lukewarm, and 2)  I’m not sure if I would really call this a soup since the dumplings were like boulders that stood atop a thin layer of broth.

I probably wouldn’t go back for the kubbeh alone, but I’d definitely buy a frozen bag of them if they sold it.  If I manage to get back there, it would be for the brunch dishes, fresh whole wheat pita, hummus and general atmosphere.

Mimi’s Hummus
1209 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11218
718.284.4444
http://www.mimishummus.com/

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


31 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Cafe Kashkar’s Lagman: The Uyghur Version of Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Sprinkle a little less salt and then give me more, please!

Right after eating chicken soup with mini pelmini at Cafe Glechik, JM and I walked a few blocks over to get some Lagman ($6) at Cafe Kashkar.  I felt even closer to home here:  when we walked in, I thought we had walked into my grandmother’s dining room.  Then, we were given chopsticks.  Eh?  I thought we were in a Russian hood!

Well, after some research, it all makes sense now.  Kashgar is apparently a city within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, and almost half of the population of Xinjiang is made up of Turkish-speaking Uyghur Muslims.  A map showing what borders this province helped shed some light as well.

So the food is mostly halal food with lots of mutton and a Chinese influence.  Take, for example, the lagman I tried.  “Lagman” = “la mien” in Mandarin Chinese = “pulled noodles” (thank you, thank you, I still remember my Mandarin!).  The noodles here were clearly hand pulled.  Each noodle was too uneven, with some parts thin and other parts thick, to have been cut by a machine.  It was refreshing to see and even more delightful to eat.  The texture – a springy bite – was absolutely perfect, and I’m not sure I’ve eaten better noodles.

Cafe Kashkar's Lagman

The meaty broth, while a bit on the salty side, included an abundance of  tender lamb, red and green bell peppers, shredded lettuce/celery leaves (?), celery, long beans, and I think some bits of star anise.  It was a hugely happy reminder of the beef noodle soup my family and I often ate but with its own little twists.

Now I’m hungry and really craving a big bowl of Lagman, so I think I should end this entry here.  I hope I can find something just as good in LA when I move there at the end of the month.

Cafe Kashkar
1141 Brighton Beach Ave
(between Brighton 14th St & Brighton 15th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 743-3832

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


30 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Cafe Glechik’s Chicken Soup with Mini Pelmini: Sorta Close to Home

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Worth taking a trip for a full meal but not just for the soup.

A couple weekends ago, while JM was here, I decided we should go to Brighton Beach – one of the largest Russian communities in the U.S. – to get a double dose of soup.  Cafe Glechik and Cafe Kashkar were just a few blocks from each other, so the smartest thing to do was to stuff our faces at both places during this one trip.  Brighton Beach is just not a weekend destination, unless it’s beach season.

I happened to be watching an Anthony Bourdain:  No Reservations‘ episode on China while writing this and Tony, as I like to call him, declared:  “There’s nowhere in the world [China’s] influence hasn’t spread.  Even if you haven’t had Chinese food, you’ve had Chinese food.”  I definitely felt a Chinese presence in each cafe’s kitchen that day.

And, with that, I’ll start with Cafe Glechik, a Russian-Ukrainian restaurant that had apparently been featured in the NYC episode of No Reservations a while ago.  Watching this episode confirmed something else for me – when you get bad service, it’s not you.  It’s the Russian I-don’t-really-care-about-you attitude.  Just a little something to expect before going there.  In any case…

That’s posted on the resto’s website, and they do serve a lot of things in the crocks that I associate with French Onion soup.

Cafe Glechik's Chicken Soup with Mini Pelmini

But our Chicken Soup with Mini Pelmini ($6) was served in a homey white bowl.  Not sure if it would’ve been served in a crock if we didn’t share one order.  What was clear was that one order for one person would’ve been more than enough as a meal.

The broth was clear, light and a little sour, and the generous amount of fresh dill kept it from being completely boring.

Mini Pelmini

The mini pelmini were at first overshadowed by the gigantic spoon, but soon took the center of attention as each firm but chewy bite burst with flavor…just like a good piece of Bubblicious Burst gum.  They tasted like home, and I was immediately transported to my family’s kitchen, where my mom, my grandmother and I would sit and make Chinese dumplings (jao zi) – the seemingly king-size versions of their Russian-Ukrainian counterpart.

But, as much as Cafe Glechik’s mini pelmini took me home, just as I wouldn’t go home just for my mom’s dumplings, I wouldn’t make a special trip just for the restaurant’s soup.  I might, however, do it if I’m craving a really good full Russian meal.

Cafe Glechik
3159 Coney Island Ave
(at Brighton Beach Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 616-0766

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


18 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop: A Home Away from Home

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If I lived in the neighborhood, I’d be eating here every day.

Finding authentic Chinese food that reminds me of home is really tough.  Even Manhattan’s Chinatown doesn’t live up to expectations.  But for Chinese New Year’s, my family and I added East Harbor Seafood Palace in Brooklyn (Dyker Heights) to our “Best Chinese Food in NYC” list, and I’m now happy to add Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop.  Moving to Brooklyn was definitely a great idea!

T was craving Chinese food or ramen for lunch, so I thought this was a great opportunity to take her with me on this particular soup adventure.  It was a hot, hot day, but we made the trek out there (it’s a bit of a walk from the subway) and were happy that we did.

When we walked into the tiny storefront, we were greeted by the friendly owner (the husband of the husband-wife team) who recommended the cold noodles* (#6) which T ordered.  Since I was here to try New York Magazine‘s recommendation, I ordered the Hot and Sour Soup with Dumplings which was actually “#27 – Dumpling with Hot and Sour Sauce” ($4.25) on the menu.  Soup and sauce are two totally different things, so I’m not sure why the owners used the word “sauce” when it was actually soup.  I suppose I can forgive the bad English, especially when they were telling me my Mandarin was very good, even though I know it was very bad.

Dumpling in Hot and Sour Sauce

In any case, what did I get exactly?  A big plastic white tupperware bowl filled with nine to ten freshly-made, meaty wontons which were floating in some spicy, vinegary reddish-brown clear broth with cilantro, chili and scallions.

The wontons – the “dumplings” – were the real deal.  Not from a frozen bag.  You could taste the love and care that went into making them, and I felt at home.  I envisioned my mom and grandmother at the dinner table making tray after tray of them.

The broth, on the other hand, didn’t blow me away, but it was still really good.  Something was missing for me, and I still can’t pinpoint what it was.  It lacked a bit of flavor, so, at times, I felt I was drinking something that was really watered down.  I’m not sure what they use to make the broth, but, if they use meat or meat bones as a base, perhaps they should simmer it longer.  Or perhaps the vinegar just threw off the taste.  Or maybe that’s how it’s supposed to taste, and I just don’t know what I’m talking about.  Whatever it was, I’m unhappily reporting that I could’ve done without the broth.  I would’ve been perfectly happy just eating the dumplings with some actual sauce.

And, for those of you who like it spicy, even though New York Magazine declared that the soup could “clear a sinus at 60 paces,” it really is no replacement for Sudafed or wasabi.  Spicy is not my friend, but I could handle this with no problem.  All the soup did was make my nose run because the temperature was so hot.  So leave the Pepcid at home, but make sure to bring lots of tissues with you.

Would I go back for more?  Absolutely.  It’s the closest thing to home right now.  And, since home wouldn’t be the same without my actual family, I hope I can take them with me at some point to have a feast!

*Read more about the Shop in general and the cold noodles from my Yelp review!  T and I both took a container of the noodles home for dinner!

Yun Nan Flavour Snack Shop
774 49th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 633-3090

—-

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!