Tag Archives: 50 tastiest soups

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

—–

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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49 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Tortilleria Nixtamal’s Pozole: Plenty of Ingredients But Needs a Dash of Flavor

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  You won’t spend much, and you probably won’t gain any weight, but you won’t taste much either.

Let’s start with the restaurant’s name, Tortilleria Nixtamal.  “Nixtamalization” (“nixtamal” in Mexican Spanish), according to Wikipedia, “refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled.”  Doing this increases the nutritional value and flavor, so I guess you can feel good about eating tortillas and hominy, which are produced by using this method.

Tortilleria Nixtamal's Pozole (part of "Recovery Special")

That’s good news because there was lots of hominy in Tortilleria Nixtamal’s pozole ($6 bowl, or get a smaller portion as part of their “Recovery Special” combo for $7).  The whole bowl felt healthy.  An almost too-light, non-oily pork broth would be further seasoned after picking from your own personal garnish bar of raw onions, radishes, lettuce, oregano, fresh lime and a tostada.  But a few sprinkles, crumbles and squeezes later, I still craved something bolder.

The hominy provided a nice, chewy texture, and I always love me some pork (pernil), but, overall, it just wasn’t that special.  If I still lived in NYC, I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to get some again.  That would only happen if I lived within a couple blocks and needed to do some recovering.

Tortilleria Nixtamal
104-05 47th Avenue (btwn 104th and 108th Sts)
Corona, NY 11368
718-699-2434
http://www.tortillerianixtamal.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!


48 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Cafe Sabarsky’s Goulash Soup: Sorta Makes Me Want to Taste the Goulash King’s Other Goulash Gems

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Sure, it makes me want to try more goulash, but only if it doesn’t cost me as much.  A $13 price tag seems high.

Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner is New York’s “goulash king,” according to New York magazine.  He apparently makes three different kinds with three different meats at three different restaurants:  venison at Wallsé, pork at Blaue Gans and beef at Cafe Sabarsky. It would’ve been a soup princess’ dream to have a sampling of all three at the same time, but my dreams wouldn’t come true this time around.  I had to settle for just the beef Goulash Soup at Cafe Sabarsky ($13).

Cafe Sabarsky’s Goulash Soup

I got over it quickly, though, since the bowl came out soon after I ordered it, and it was very satisfying, especially after taking a nice 40-block stroll over.  Potato chunks, beef cubes, scallions, and what I wrote down as “rye seeds” (but are actually called caraway seeds which are used in rye bread!) accompanied a chunky, dark reddish-brown broth that wasn’t lacking in paprika.  I’ve mentioned before how some soups would be perfect in a cabin on a snowy day, and this is one of them.  It would warm you up and make you feel relaxed and right at home.

The only downside to this goulash was the saltiness.  It became overwhelming towards the end, and I needed to wash it down with some water.

I wonder how Wolfgang Puck would feel about this version since goulash is one of the dishes he’d want to eat as part of his last meal (if you watched this season’s Top Chef, then you know what I’m talking about!).  Would he tell Padma to dethrone Chef Gutenbrunner and tell him to pack his knives and go?

Cafe Sabarsky
(part of the Neue Galerie museum)
1048 5th Avenue (at 86th Street)
New York, NY, 10028
(212) 288-0665
http://www.neuegalerie.org/cafes/sabarsky

—–

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!


47 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Allegretti’s Provencale Fish Soup Has Found a New Home

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  From what I’ve read, it sounds like I’d like it.

The bad news – Allegretti closed down around the end of 2010.

The good news – Chef Alain Allegretti took his famous Provençale Fish Soup over to his new restaurant, La Petite Maison, which opened in December 2010 in the old Aquavit space (13-15 West 54th Street).  Officially, they call it “Traditional Provencal fish soup with rouille and garlic crouton” ($14; was $13 at Allegretti Restaurant and $12 when NY mag published their feature).

The bad news – I hadn’t done enough research when I was back in NYC a month ago, so I didn’t realize Chef was already at a new restaurant AND was making the same soup there…so, this means I didn’t try it and won’t be able to tell you what I think about it right now.

The good news – Google is awesome, and lots of people have written about it.  So, here’s some info…

Soup Background
“Always Hungry New York” interviewed Chef Allegretti about his fish soup on June 28, 2010.  If you want to see how to make it, definitely visit the website.  Here’s what I learned: Chef grew up in the South of France, and his grandmother would make fish soup every weekend for the family.  Since her version was extremely fishy, he decided to adapt it to a less fishy, more “American” version for his restaurant.  The hefty price comes from the fact that making it is a long and detailed process, and the ingredients that go into it, such as saffron, are very expensive.  One batch costs about $600, which is insane!  I wonder if I would be able to taste the $$$ and love that goes into this.

Chef Alain Allegretti's Provencale Fish Soup (photo from "Evenings with Peter" blog)

What New York magazine said in their “50 Tastiest Soups” feature in 2009:
“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.”

What another blogger from “Evenings with Peter” said:
“I don’t like soup for dinner ordinarily and I didn’t like the bouillabaisse too much in Marseilles, but this fish dish demands a standing ovation! Extraordinary!”

What New York Times‘ Frank Bruni’s friend said in 2008:
“’It tastes exactly the way it should,’ she said, rushing the words out as soon as the soup was down. She wanted the rest of us to know. She wanted to crow. She wanted to be done with talking and get back to the soup. She was even making those mm-mm noises, or something oddly close to them, as in the goofy Campbell’s commercials from years ago.

What she meant…was that that it tasted of Mediterranean waters — scorpion fish, rouget — and of Mediterranean sunshine, the tomato flavor robust and true. She meant that it had some proper mischief in it: a blast of fennel, a flicker of Pernod, a murmur of saffron.”  Read full NYT article

What Time Out New York said in 2008:
“Slurping it down, I was left craving one thing: more of their croutons, Gruyère and garlicky rouille—the usual accompaniments—for soaking it up.”  Read full TONY article

What New York Times said recently on March 22, 2011 about the soup, which is now featured at La Petite Maison:
“It arrives on tables with all the flavors and fragrances of that region present and singing in tune: fantastic.”  Read full NYT article about La Petite Maison

Soooo, the good news – I’ll be able to try the soup the next time I’m in NYC.

The bad news – I probably won’t be there for a while.  Hopefully the resto is still in business by the time I get there, and hopefully Chef has the fish soup on the menu that day.  If not, I’m going to think something fishy is going on…

Allegretti – CLOSED

La Petite Maison – NOW OPEN
13-15 W. 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
212.616.9931
http://www.lapetitemaisonnyc.com

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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!


34 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – B&H Dairy’s Vegetarian Borscht: A Better Borscht Experience But Still Not A Borscht Fan

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Better than Veselka’s, but still not for me.

B&H Dairy is apparently one of the few kosher dairy restaurants left in New York City, and after more than 65 years in business, it’s still attracting plenty of customers.  I made my way there after work last week, even though I was still insanely stuffed from my late lunch.

I felt like I walked into one of those scary and depressing diners from a movie.  You know, the quiet, old diner in the middle of a desert that people go to after they leave their car at the scary gas station nearby.   B&H Dairy was a lot smaller, though.  The sliver of a room had one long counter with stools and some rectangular cocktail tables along the wall directly behind the stools.  The restaurant was pretty full – and very quiet – and once I squeezed myself into one of the counter seats, I had to get used to the arriving and departing customers brushing up against me.

Vegetarian Borscht at B&H Dairy

The steaming cup of fluorescent pink Vegetarian Borscht ($4.25 cup, $4.50 bowl) was placed in front of me immediately after I ordered it.  It looked like the meaty version at Veselka, but, instead of meat, it had a mix of beets, beans, bay leaves, cabbage, potato chunks, dill, and carrots.  I was expecting a depressing experience like the first time I had borscht, especially with the depressing ambience, but I was pleasantly surprised.   B&H Dairy’s borscht was sweeter and less vinegary, which made this the winning borscht for me, but I can also see the sweetness becoming a bit overwhelming.  I’d be happier skipping the soup and eating a whole loaf of the restaurant’s homemade sweet Challah bread.

I think I can now confidently declare that borscht is one of my least favorite soups, and, sadly, I think the color is a tiny part of the problem.  Borscht virgins should first try it before declaring the same thing.  I did see a woman scraping the bottom of her own cup.  :oD

B&H Dairy
127 Second Avenue (near St. Mark’s)
New York, NY 10003
212-505-8065

—–

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!


33 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Estelle’s Chicken Soup at Fred’s at Barneys Leaves You (and Your Wallet) Empty

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Go to Barney’s to feed your closet, not your stomach.

In my 10.5 years living in NYC, the only time I stepped into Barneys was because I had to use the bathroom.  That was the only thing I could afford to do there.  When I ventured there last week for lunch, I was expecting no less than an expensive meal that would leave me needing a second lunch.

“Grandma’s recipe to cure colds and stay thin.”  That’s how the menu described Estelle’s Chicken Soup ($11) at Fred’s, the department store’s restaurant.  I can’t confirm if it would actually cure a cold, but I can confirm that I’d probably stay thin if I ate this all the time:  I would never feel full just eating one bowl, and I’d never have money left to buy myself some more food.

 

Estelle's Chicken Soup at Fred's at Barneys

The shredded chicken filled most of the shallow bowl, which also contained a sprinkle of diced carrots, celery and fresh parsley, and a light coating of golden broth.  I was less than impressed, especially with its $11 price tag.  It was really nothing special (no offense to Estelle who is/was, I’m sure, a very special woman), and, in fact, it tasted just like the chicken soup I made about a month ago.

I think the lesson here is that I should start selling small bowls of my own soup and charging up the wazoo for it.  Maybe then I could afford a luxury item from Barneys.

Fred’s at Barneys
660 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10065
212.833.2200

—–

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!


26 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Artisanal’s French Onion Soup: Let’s Cut to the Cheese, It’s Grrreat!

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  A crock full of (good) sh*t.

MS, ND, JM, CD, TSH and I clogged up our arteries at Artisanal just a few days after Thanksgiving.  Luckily, I actually missed turkey dinner this time around, otherwise I would’ve felt extra guilty.

Artisanal's French Onion Soup - Nice crispy layer

According to New York magazine, this French Onion Soup ($12.50) incorporated not just one, but three different cheeses – Gruyere, Emmental (wha?) and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I’m not sure if using three versus one made it a winner, but I am sure that I enjoyed the cheesiness.  It was like eating a savory crème brulée – burnt, crisp layer atop a decadent creamy one.  Take a chunk of that; add some sweet, melt-in-your-mouth onions; pair it with a full-bodied, golden broth, and you’ve got a spoonful of premium soup that will make you say, “Oui oui!”

Um, yes, I ate AALLL the cheese...

I will admit that I was talking about the heaviness of the cheese as I was eating it since you really had to dig through to get to the broth.  But then ND, a French Onion Soup maven, taught me that I should actually swirl the cheese in the broth to let it melt a little, and I’ll probably have a smoother experience.  Good tip!  Anyone else have a specific method?

Please note:  I’m not usually this cheesy (or am I?),  but it was hard to resist with this post. ;op

Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro
2 Park Avenue (at 32nd Street)
New York, NY 10016
212.725.8585
http://www.artisanalbistro.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!