Tag Archives: NY

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!


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!


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

—–

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!


39 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Arirang’s Chicken Ginseng Soup: Get a Few Packs of Breath Mints Ready

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Vampires – watch out.

Good thing CD was having friends over to watch the Filipino boxer, Nonita Donaire Jr., fight Mexico’s Montiel ’cause, otherwise, I’m not sure I would’ve ever made it all the way out to Flushing for this Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup ($17.95), aka Samgyetang, at Arirang.

It’s a small hole-in-the-wall joint where you might expect some good home cooking.  Right when you walk in, the hyper older Korean woman immediately pushes the Samgyetang on you.  Service is definitely both slow and rushed at the same time, but somehow you’re able to forgive them for it.

Arirang's Chicken Ginseng Soup ("Samgyetang")

The soup comes out in a steaming hot stone bowl (awesome on a freezing day like the day we went).  Before I could get a proper photo, the same woman rushes over, takes the ladle and stirs it all up.  It was like a tornado just swooshed on by, and nothing landed in our individual bowls.  I ended up serving both me and JM.

After the storm...

There was definitely a lot of stuff going on in that one bowl:  whole chicken (game hen?) with bones and all, chunks of fresh garlic, sticky rice, stalks of ginseng, black sesame seeds, scallions, one ball of chestnut and salt and pepper that you add to your liking.

Sticky rice and stuff

But all I tasted was garlic.

After a while, the sticky rice soaked up most of the broth so that it became even more like a Chinese congee.  JM said it reminded him of a Filipino dish as well.  (Which came first, eh??!)

Ginseng and stuff...

I think it was good and soothing, but JM and I both would’ve preferred a larger broth-to-other stuff ratio.  What would’ve been even better was if they brought out a huge pot for the $17.95 price tag.

And, again, for me, it might as well have been called garlic soup.  Could it have been a winner if I loved and could handle garlic?  Not so sure.  One thing’s for sure, though:  I think I could’ve also knocked out Montiel just by breathing on him.

Arirang
137-38 Northern Blvd (near Main St.)
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 661-5454

—–

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!


38 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Alfanoose’s Red Lentil Soup: As Flimsy As Its “Dinnerware”

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Someone who really knows lentil soups please tell me why this was deemed top notch.

The Red Lentil Soup ($3.50) at Alfanoose looked unappealing sitting in a flimsy white plastic bowl, and I had hoped it wasn’t a sign of what was to come.  Unfortunately, it was.  I went from one extreme at Dovetail to another at this super casual, nearly buffet-style Middle Eastern restaurant.  The website is a bit deceiving, making it look like you were going to be in somewhat of a fine-dining atmosphere (Exhibit A – http://www.alfanoose.com/).

But I wasn’t going to judge a soup by its presentation, so I dug in with the flimsy white plastic spoon.  Had I loved the soup, I would’ve been pissed about the cheap utensil.  I could barely get a drop onto it, which made it even less enjoyable to eat.  Luckily for me, I didn’t care for the much-too-lemony flavor.

Alfanoose's Red Lentil Soup

To overcome the plainness and mouth-puckering effect, eating it with all the extras (rice-and-lentil mojadara + fried onion + hot sauce), which is supposedly how the chef/owner eats it, may have done some good…only with a proper spoon, though.  Too bad I was never asked if I wanted any of those extras.

EW’s brown version was just slightly better, in my opinion (this is

Alfanoose's Brown Lentil Soup

opposite of what NY mag declared).  Could’ve been the cilantro that did it for me, but it was still not something I would ever order again.

Honestly, I don’t know what the magazine was thinking…

Alfanoose
8 Maiden Lane (btwn Broadway and Nassau)
New York, NY 10038
212.528.4669
http://www.alfanoose.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!


36 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Shopsin’s Chicken Tortilla Avocado Soup: Big on Size, Not on Taste

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  It should be a sin to charge $15 on a bowl of soup that doesn’t deliver on taste, regardless of its size.

I’m WAY behind in my blogging.  Thirteen entries to write.  I’ve clearly been good about the eating part.  Thirteen soups in two weeks = crazy town.  Let’s not waste anymore time…

I’d been trying to go to Shopsin’s a few times, but it never happened due to their early closing hours (2 or 3pm Wed-Sun).  I’m either at work, which is too far away, or I’m sleeping in on the weekends.

Finally, after realizing I only had a couple weeks left to eat my way through the list, I went during my lunch hour one day.

Shopsin's Chicken Tortilla Avocado Soup

When I first saw “Chicken Tortilla Avocado Soup” ($15) on the list, I couldn’t wait to try it.  I love tortilla soup.  But this one fell short.  Fresh, browned chicken chunks were thrown in with a mish-mosh of sporadic items:  a seemingly whole head of browned cabbage which were cut into huge shreds that made it difficult to eat; onions; avocado chunks; big yellow, barley- and corn-like kernels (aka hominy); black beans; cilantro; celery; and other leafy greens.  The big tortilla chips that layered the bottom were as hidden as the level 3 spiciness that I had requested (on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the spiciest and most popular).  And the entire thing needed a boost of salt.

This photo doesn't accurately show how gigantic the bowl was.

Overall, the taste was almost as bland as the earthy tones of the ingredients, and there was just way too much going on, as if they threw all of their leftovers from the pantry into the pot.  But I didn’t hate it and enjoyed it as my “free” dinner, after upping the sodium levels.

The highlights were the bright blue of the actual bowl, the cute older chef who wore suspenders with a tshirt, glasses and army green train conductor hat, the other spunky chef who was a clear Mets fan, and the yummy free sweet treats from a local bakery that they let you pick out of a box.

Even though they give you enough soup to share between two to three people, the $15 wasn’t worth it.

Shopsin’s
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002
http://www.shopsins.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!


32 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – i Sodi’s Pappa al Pomodoro: M.I.A.

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Don’t feature soups in your magazine if they will only be on the menu for a week.

Unfortunately, there’s not much to write about i Sodi’s Pappa al Pomodoro soup because it wasn’t on the menu last Saturday.  And you know why it wasn’t on the menu last Saturday?  Because their menu changes weekly.  Yes, that is correct – their.  menu.  changes.  weekly.

If this is really true (and I can only believe that it is because the restaurant told me so), why in the world would New York magazine put this on their list??  Magazine readers often hold onto magazines for a while.  Foodies often like to try the things that magazines feature – sometimes sooner rather than later, but sometimes later rather than sooner.  Sure, I attempted to try this a year and two months later, but their.  menu.  changes.  WEEKLY!  So featuring a soup that may have only been on a restaurant’s menu for one week seems a bit…stupid…and annoying.  The least that New York mag could’ve done was put a disclaimer:  “i Sodi will put it on the menu during X week, so don’t miss it!”  Or maybe “i Sodi only made this specially for us, so, we’re featuring it, but, too bad, you can’t have any of this deliciousness.  Na nannee boo booooo!”

Annyyywwaayy, I’ll quit my bitching and say that, based on the actual food I ate at the restaurant (read my Yelp review of the full meal), the soup could’ve been either really good or really not so good.  I guess I’ll never know, and I really don’t care.  :o)

But I do care about you, dear readers, so I wouldn’t leave you soupless like I was.  Here are two recipes for Pappa al Pomodoro, if you care to make it on your own.

Food & Wine:  http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pappa-al-pomodoro

And another probably less fancy recipe from Food Network:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-chiarello/pappa-al-pomodoro-recipe/index.html

If you try to make one, let me know how it goes!

i Sodi
105 Christopher St
(between Bedford St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-5774

—–

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!