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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!


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!


44 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Perry Street’s Squash Soup: Like a Jackson Pollock Painting

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  A strong, intriguing bowl.

It’s as if Perry Street and Felidia swapped menus.  I was supposed to try the Chicken Broth with Market Vegetables, Dill and Lime at Perry Street, but, instead, they were serving Squash Soup with Mimolette and Crouton ($10).

Just like Felidia turned a simple chicken soup into something unique, Perry Street spun their Squash Soup into a somewhat crazy work of art.  If you compare it to Dovetail’s butternut squash soup, whereas Dovetail’s was more minimalist and elegant, Perry Street’s was more like a Jackson Pollock painting, especially after you mixed the ingredients together.

Perry Street's Squash Soup

The pureed sweet squash was poured, tableside, atop a mix of shaved mimolette*, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped chives, and crunchy crouton flakes.  Then, just when you thought that was it, they topped that off with some foam that tasted like cheese.

Stir it all together, and what you get is a very complex – and strong – flavor with great textures.  There was even a spicy kick to it that I couldn’t figure out.  Unfortunately, after a while, I started wishing I only had a simple squash puree with some seasoning since it became too heavy and overwhelming for me.  But it’s a bowl that deserves appreciation, and some may really enjoy it.

And, after reading chef Cedric Vongerichten’s quote for his featured chicken broth, it looks like texture and tableside pouring are his things.  From what I’ve seen with his squash soup, I’d actually like to see what he does with his chicken soup.

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*According to Wikipedia, mimolette is a cow’s milk cheese originally made by the request of Louis XIV, who wanted a French cheese to resemble Edam, a Dutch cheese.  In order to differentiate it from Edam, however, he had it colored orange.  With a grey crust and orange flesh, it looks a lot like a cantaloupe.  And I’m grossed out to know that the grey crust is a result of cheese mites which are intentionally introduced to add flavor.  ICK!!!!!!

——

Perry Street
176 Perry Street (at West St.)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 352-1900
http://www.jean-georges.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!


43 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup: Really Just a Bowl of Chili Oil

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  *barf*

Someone bring me a puke bag because writing this might actually make me puke.  I would rather not think about Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup ($20; was $19) ever again.

First off, yes, it was $20.  They bring out a family-style bowl of it.

Grand Sichuan's Sliced Fish Sauce Soup

Below the thick, red chili oil and bushel of red chili peppers lay some thin fillets of fish (skin on and bone in), cilantro, celery sticks, napa cabbage, leeks and squares of tofu.

Here are a few things that were said by me, TK, KF and MS:

“I feel like I’m eating oil.”

“(It’s like) pepper juice.”

“I can’t taste anything else but chili oil.”

I’d rather drink a bottle of pepto.

No one really touched the soup after the first sip.  I, on the other hand, decided that the non-fish items were good enough to eat with my rice.  Without any “broth” it was edible.

My friend told me about “twilight anesthesia” this morning – it keeps you conscious but sleepy, and you forget the entire experience afterwards.  This is exactly what we needed that night while trying this nastiness.

When the waitress came by and asked me if we wanted it wrapped, I wanted to say “hellz no, it was nasty!” but I didn’t know how to express that in Mandarin.  The best I could do was say, politely, “No, it was too oily.”  I guess that’s a good thing?

Grand Sichuan
15 Seventh Avenue South (near Leroy St.)
New York, NY 10014
212.645.2222
http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/contact/7ave

—–

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!


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/

—–

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!


41 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – The Breslin’s Onion and Bone Marrow Soup: A Robust French Onion for the Lactose Intolerant

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you’re not worried about your health, go for it.

Just walking into The Breslin Bar & Dining Room revealed a lot.  A wide assortment of animal figurines adorned the dark, wood bar:  deer, cows, pigs, ox, bison, chicken, sheep, ostrich and more.  If you don’t like meat, turn around and walk out the door.  That’s not to say that they don’t have non-meat options, but meat is spotlighted.

I sat at the bar for lunch and ordered my Onion and Bone Marrow Soup ($13 now; was $10 in 2009) with a side of broccolini to make myself feel better.  The baby crock came out scolding hot, which was  better than the lukewarm Kuba Soup that I got at Mimi’s Hummus…except for the fact that my tongue paid for it with the first slurp.

The Breslin's Onion and Bone Marrow Soup

It was a bolder, richer French Onion Soup made for the lactose intolerant.  A school of long, thin onion slices, a piece of fried toast and swirls of oil didn’t miss being cloaked by a thick slab of cheese.  But the bowl wasn’t completely devoid of dairy – somewhere in the murkiness, you could see bits of cheese fried to the toast.  The perfect amount, if you ask me.

I thoroughly enjoyed every last drop, but the heaviness and cost made me feel extremely guilty afterwards.  I’ll keep this as a guilty pleasure, if I’m reeeeeallly craving it one day.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
20 W. 29th Street (near Broadway, at the Ace Hotel)
New York, NY 10001
212-679-1939
http://thebreslin.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!