Tag Archives: chicken soup

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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42 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Felidia’s Chicken “Noodle” Soup: One of the Best Chicken Noodle Soups

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Far from boring.

“This is the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.”  That’s what JM said after having some of Felidia’s Chicken Soup ($15).

Zuppa Di Zucca – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – was the one featured on the list, but they didn’t have it on the menu.  I had definitely groaned in my head when the waiter told us what the soup du jour was because I was pretty tired of the same old chicken noodle soup that cost too much and was nothing special.  In fact, I didn’t even think you could really make this type of soup unique.  Well, Felidia (celeb chef, Lidia Bastianich’s, resto) proved me wrong.

Felidia's Chicken Soup

mmm, chicken

At first you see ingredients just like any other chicken soup – shreds of fresh chicken, carrots and leeks (I don’t believe I saw celery).  Then you taste the broth, which was one of the more flavorful ones out there.  But what separated this one from all the other ones

The bestest "noodle" out there

were the “noodles.”  This was no ordinary white pasta.  Instead, it was bread rolled up into dough with some cheese.  Homemade, omg-give-me-more-of-this awesomeness.  It added a whole new dimension to typical chicken soup.

But, again, it always comes back to what you’re getting for the money.  Were these noodles worth $15?  Probably not.  If it were $10 a bowl, maybe.

PS – Looks like they have the Zuppa Di Zucca as part of their Pre-Theatre Menu for $45 per person, during certain days/times, and by reservation only.

Felidia
243 E. 58th Street
New York, NY10022
212.758.1479
http://www.felidia-nyc.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!


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

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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!


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

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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!


16 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – If I could just Photoshop Tarallucci e Vino’s Scrippelle ‘Mbusse…

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I’d rather spend $8 on some fresh chicken and other ingredients and make chicken soup at home.

I’m not sure if it was an off day for the chefs at Tarallucci e Vino, but I wasn’t impressed with the Scrippelle ‘Mbusse at all.  It’s an Italian chicken soup in which the carbs come in the form of crepes.  And, at $8 a bowl, it just wasn’t worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, though – it didn’t taste bad.  It just wasn’t anything special and was pretty bland.

According to New York Magazine, scrippelle ‘mbusse is from Italy’s Abruzzo region and translates into “wet crepes.”  The crepe, made from flour, egg and water, looks like a super thin sheet of egg.  You know when you’re making an omelette and some of the egg gets swirled and cooked on the side of the pan?  It’s sort of like that.  It’s reminiscent of the French crepe most of us know and love, but different in that the French version is thicker and includes sugar, butter and milk.

Taralluci e Vino’s menu describes their scrippelle ‘mbusse as a “hen broth with crepes filled with Parmesan cheese.”  So, I was expecting a decadently rich broth that would be complemented by the sharp and salty cheese.  Instead, what I received was what seemed to be a watered-down broth, very light in color, with three crepes and a tiny morsel of Parmesan thrown in.  The one time (literally) that I was able to get some cheese while biting into the crepe was a pleasant experience.  Too bad the pleasantries ended there.  And, since the soup was not close to being filling enough as a meal, I had to order a $10 beet salad to go with it.  Even more reason for the cafe/restaurant to lower the price of the soup.

What further confounded me, after I did some research at home, was that I found an old article, again in New York Magazine, featuring the same soup as their 2006 “Best Chicken Soup” pick.  Do they really think this soup is that good making it worthy of being featured again three years later as one of the best soups in NYC?  Or were they just lazy this time around and didn’t want to search for something new and possibly way more exciting?  Perhaps they were just going for the uniqueness factor since I’m not sure if any other restaurant makes scrippelle ‘mbusse.  If that’s the case, though, it should be under the “Unique but Tastes Only Ok” soup list.

Aside from that, take a look at the photos below.  The left is from New York Magazine‘s feature in 2006, and the right is the one I took during my recent experience a week ago.  Let’s go back to our Highlights days and please spot the differences.

(Left) New York Magazine's photo from 2006 "Best Chicken Soup" feature; (Right) Photo from my recent experience

Which would you rather eat?  I know you’re all smart enough to see what I see, so I won’t go through each observation.  And I know that, just like models get their “fat” and wrinkles Photoshopped out of their photos, food items get arranged and “colored” on set to make them prettier and more appealing for a photo shoot.  Not only that, I’m sure that more processing gets done to the actual photos later on.  But who knows what the real story is in this case.

Whether or not the old photo was a specially-crafted version of the scrippelle ‘mbusse or the real thing back then, I wish that I could’ve Photoshopped my 2010 version to that one instead.  It looks like it would’ve been much tastier.

Tarallucci e Vino
15 E. 18th Street (near Broadway)
New York, NY
212.228.5400
http://taralluccievino.net/

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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!


10 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Trying to Overlook the Negatives: Má Pêche’s Hue-Style Chicken Soup

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you’re going to try this, for every spoonful of soup you should have a gulp of water.

It’s Easter Sunday, and I’m staring out my dirty windows trying to write this post before I get started on more work.  Three months after moving into this brand new building, I still have to look past the grime covering the windows to get a glimpse of the beautiful sun shining through.  This is what I had to do with Momofuku Má Pêche’s Hue-Style Chicken Soup.

I almost didn’t get to try it on Friday because, after arriving, we were told by the host standing outside that there was a private party going on and the restaurant wasn’t even officially opened yet.  She said the Chambers Hotel was still serving a limited lunch menu on the Mezzanine level, but she didn’t know if they were serving the soup.  We walked upstairs to look at the menu, and, hallelujah, the soup was there!

As the host took us to our seats, I started sweating because it was so damn hot and humid inside.  This was going to be a not-so-great experience if I had to eat hot soup in a hot environment.  But ask and you shall receive, and the cool air

Má Pêche’s Arnold Palmer

was finally turned on.  Supplementing the cool air were a bottle of beer and a special Arnold Palmer ($5) made from Má Pêche’s calamansi lemonade (calamansi*, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint) and jasmine iced tea, which had a refreshingly delicate citrus flavor.

I was both expecting and not expecting a mind-blowing soup because the Momofuku name was behind it.  I had Momofuku ramen a few times (and it still needs a review on this blog), as well as dinner at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and each time I’ve left unimpressed and annoyed that I spent a lot of money.  However, Momofuku still has an incredible reputation, so this was me hoping that I could see past my bad experiences and finally enjoy something I would rejoice about.

Má Pêche’s Hue-Style Chicken Soup

To my dismay, that didn’t really happen with their Hue-Style Chicken Soup.  I enjoyed the mix of ingredients that were in plain sight – fresh slices of mushrooms, real tender pieces of chicken, fresh cilantro, fried shallot flakes and Asian rice noodles.  The more hidden ingredients that my palate could figure out – star anise, lemongrass and fish sauce – provided some pleasant company.  But, at $12 a bowl, I wondered if they used about $9 worth of salt.  In fact, all of their dishes had salt dumped into them.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been as noticeable in the soup if I wasn’t eating the sodium-ridden side dish, too.  At this point, I was thankful for my many drinks so I could wash it down.

Why didn’t I just stop eating?  Well, I was investing $12 just for the bowl of soup, and wasn’t about to waste my money and spend more money to fill up my stomach.  So I forced myself to get over the saltiness, delight in the parts that I liked, and finish it.

This is similar to how I handle my personal relationships.  As I invest more of myself into a relationship, my expectations increase.  I expect the same that I give.  Over the years, however, I’ve realized, after a number of disappointments, that the only way I could lessen these disappointments was if I changed my own expectations and, from that, changed how I interacted with certain friends.  For example, flakers get invited less and less, but I’ll still be able to have a good time with them whenever we happen to see each other.  They’re still fun people, after all.

I’ve been a work in progress, trying to look past the rough spots and enjoy the shining moments underneath.  This doesn’t mean I never feel let down anymore, but it does mean that I feel happier overall.  If you rub enough salt on the wounds, though, and don’t provide me with an ounce of happiness, then my investment ends there.

So, Má Pêche, I think you’ve filled me with enough salt for a lifetime, and I won’t be coming back.

*Calamansi is popular in Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, and is also called “lemoncito.”  It is often described as a cross between a tangerine/mandarin orange and a kumquat.

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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!


4 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – First Impressions Color Your Perceptions and Hearth’s Chicken Soup was Impressive

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Go treat your taste buds to a well-executed and unique chicken soup!

Exhibit A

First impressions – one chance to reel them in and color their perceptions…to feel  a warmth towards you…to want to find out more.  And let’s be real here:  no one wants people to think negatively about them.  I certainly don’t, and perhaps that’s why I am very colorful on the outside…literally.  In stark contrast to my more serious side, I have a pretty colorful wardrobe (see Exhibit A).  But it may be why the most common word I’ve heard to describe me after an initial meeting is that I’m very “pleasant.”  (Shall I toot my horn some more?)

Luckily, my experience at Hearth was nothing less than a number of pleasant first impressions.  Some full disclosure – I’ve been to Hearth about four times already, and each time I’ve been impressed with the food.  I’ve also been impressed with the extremely friendly and knowledgeable bartender, Kelley (I met her the last time I was there, and she’s definitely a bartender I’d want to share more food and drinks with).  But I think this just set the bar super high when I decided to go there to try their famous Chicken Soup with Farro and Dumplings.

I went with one of my absolute bestest friends (practically my sister and twin) tonight, and sat at the bar since Kelley happened to be working (hoorah!).  Right when we sat down, we were introduced to Chef Marco who happened to be standing there.  I told him about my little adventure, and he was definitely interested in what I thought (for all he knew I was a young-looking food critic).  We interacted a couple of times, and each time I thought, “What a cool guy.”  I tend to think this of most famous chefs whom I meet – they are genuine, fun-loving people who truly care about customer satisfaction.

Chicken Soup with Farro and Dumplings

When the soup came out, it was a really colorful, rich bowl that just made me eager to dig in.  After my first spoonful, I had to consciously stop myself from picking the bowl up and just slurping it up asian-style.  It was like a lighter French Onion soup but a bolder traditional chicken soup.  The dumplings were not only the perfect size but also the perfect texture (much better than the matzo balls in matzo ball soup).  The firm yet chewy farro was a nice complement to everything else…and a nice, unique surprise.  That may have been my favorite part of the soup.  So, when I was nearing the end of the bowl, I tilted it to make sure I got every…last…drop.

At $10 a bowl, the Chicken Soup isn’t considered cheap, but I do think it’s worth it.  Was I colored by my fantastic first impressions?  One will never know until you try it yourself.

Hearth Restaurant
403 East 12th Street (at First Avenue)
New York, NY 10009
(646) 602-1300

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!