Soul-warming bowls: Soups, stews and more in NYC

Take on New York City’s near-freezing temps with piping soups, hearty stews and comforting broths. These ten steaming potages will warm you up this winter.

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Beet soup at Todd's Mill

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Acqua pazza at Rosemary's

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Lentil soup at ABC Kitchen

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Matzo ball soup at Jack's Wife Freda

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Westlake rice porridge at Mission Chinese Food

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Sunchoke soup at Acme

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Spicy tomato soup at Earl's Beer and Cheese

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Ganso ramen at Ganso

  • Photograph: Dominic Perri

    Braised-rabbit and pretzel-dumpling soup at the Marrow

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Short-rib soup at Runner & Stone

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Beet soup at Todd's Mill


When the festive warmth of the holiday season is gone and all that’s left  is bone-chilling winter, there’s nothing more restorative than a soul-warming bowl. We tracked down NYC’s best soups, stews and broths, including the superior house ramen at Ganso, a classic tomato spiked with sriracha at Earl’s Beer and Cheese, and an update on Grandma’s matzo ball at Jack’s Wife Freda. Dip a spoon into one of these potages to bring color back to your wind-chapped cheeks and fire back in your belly this winter.

Beet soup at Todd’s Mill
At this bar-cum-bistro, chef Eric Simeon ladles up a fuchsia-hued bowl—as gorgeous as it is tasty—that would convert even the staunchest of beetphobes. Within the satin-smooth base, a swirl of tangy white horseradish crème cuts the root veg’s sweetness, while silky kelp ribbons add a vital hit of salt. The pièce de résistance is the pickled quail egg bobbing amid al dente cubes of beet. Brined in the star ingredient’s juice, the purple egg is a bold pop of acerbity, lingering on your tongue long after the last bite. 162 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-995-0300, toddsmill.com). $8.

Acqua pazza at Rosemary’s
Fishermen’s stew isn’t the first item we’d think to serve well-heeled West Villagers, but Wade Moises elevates the blue-collar meal to an elegant dish becoming of the clientele. In the acqua pazza, the Babbo alum piles high plump mussels and shrimp, flaky whitefish and tender squid tentacles, all swimming in “crazy water” (the literal translation): a sweet, saffron-tinged broth perfumed with white wine, fennel, tomato and garlic. Hidden beneath its depths are thick crostini triangles slathered with vibrant pesto, infused with flavorful liquid but still magically crusty under the heap of sauced seafood. 18 Greenwich Ave at 10th St (212-647-1818, rosemarysnyc.com). Bowl for two $55.

Lentil soup at ABC Kitchen
Head straight for the tiny table bookended by armchairs in the back of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s locavore hit. It’s a suitable setting for tucking into chef Dan Kluger’s fragrant produce-heavy lentil soup. Along with chopped carrots, onion, tomato and celery root, the lowly brown legumes are jacked up to spoon-licking heights with a sprinkle of salty Parmesan and a generous drizzle of hot chili olive oil, enlivening the soup’s earthiness and bringing color back to your cheeks. 35 E 18th St between Broadway and Park Ave South (212-475-5829, abckitchennyc.com). $13.

Matzo ball soup at Jack’s Wife Freda
Classic matzo ball soup is like a liquid hug from Grandma, and the welcoming version  at this downtown charmer would definitely get Bubbe’s approval. A riff on a passed-down recipe from co-owner Dean Jankelowitz’s grandmother (Freda herself), the mahogany broth starts with homemade roasted chicken stock, flecked with fragrant dill. A single big, fluffy matzo ball—enriched with rendered duck fat—bogarts the soothing bowl. 224 Lafayette St between Kenmare and Spring Sts (212-510-8550, jackswifefreda.com). $6.

Westlake rice porridge at Mission Chinese Food
On a menu drenched in chili oil and sprinkled with Szechuan pepper, chef Danny Bowien’s sinus-sparing rice porridge—a cross between traditional congee and the Zhejiang beef soup Westlake—is a gracious reprieve from MCF’s signature, rip-roaring heat. Bowien puts a chefly spin on the humble workaday bowl: Tender hunks of braised brisket, small sweet shrimp and a slow-cooked egg plopped right in the middle contrast with the creamy, long-simmered pool of rice. Sprigs of cilantro add a bright zip to the one-pot meal. 154 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-529-8800, missionchinesefood.com). $11.

Sunchoke soup at Acme
Nordic soup brings to mind Vikings shoveling down hearty gruel in between battles, not the delicate, ethereal concoction served at this Danish hot spot.  The affection Noma cofounder Mads Refslund has for foam (that old El Bulli trope) is evident throughout the menu—pearl barley and clams, and hay-roasted sunchokes both come adorned with it—but this impossibly light soup makes the strongest case for clichéd fluff. Subtly sweet and nutty, boiled sunchokes are whipped and veiled in a filmy froth. The shallow dish is dotted with velvety crème fraîche and topped with fried sunchoke chips, adding a crisp contrast that brings the airy olio back down to earth. 9 Great Jones St between Broadway and Lafayette St (212-203-2121, acmenyc.com). $12.

Spicy tomato soup at Earl’s Beer and Cheese
The main compulsions of this UES hipster den are obvious: Well-flanneled folks pop in for frothy craft beers and curds melted between buttery sourdough. But when battling near-freezing temps, a bowl of the hot, piquant tomato soup is in order. The sweet tomato puree gets bite from sriracha and ginger—the spice mellowed by a splash of heavy cream. A side of pugliese sourdough bread is primed to soak up every last drop. 1259 Park Ave between 97th and 98th Sts (212-289-1581, earlsny.com). $7.

Ganso ramen at Ganso
On a low-lit stretch off Fulton Mall, two Japanese gurus—Matsuri alum Ryuji Irie and cookbook author Harris Salat—are serving standout ramen bowls made the old-fashioned way. The house special boasts a clear shoyu (soy sauce) broth made from a stock of chicken and pork bone, salty bonito (sardines) and niboshi (preserved anchovies). To this brackish liquid, Irie adds a tangle of thin, toothsome noodles; pork shoulder and fatty belly; and a soft-boiled egg marinated in soy sauce, sake and ginger. Flavors become bolder and more concentrated as you draw broth from the bottom of the bowl, leaving a final spoonful that’s even better than the first. 25 Bond St at Livingston St Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn (718-403-0900, ganso.com). $12.

Braised-rabbit and pretzel-dumpling soup at the Marrow
After years peddling refined American fare at Perilla and contemporary Thai at Kin Shop, Top Chef O.G. Harold Dieterle traces his roots  with this Italo-Germanic eatery. On the Deutschland side is a woodland-inspired soup of shredded braised rabbit and hefty knödel dumplings, crafted from salty pretzel dough, bobbing in a clear beef stock. Lemony marjoram and swatches of kale act as a herbaceous foil to the rabbit’s gamey meat and nutty beech mushrooms. Our recommendation? Lose the spoon and wield one of the warm, plush pretzel rolls as a utensil instead. 99 Bank St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts (212-428-6000, themarrownyc.com). $12.

Short-rib soup at Runner & Stone
Chefs Peter Endriss (Per Se) and Chris Pizzulli (Blue Ribbon Brasserie) gained a cult following at the Brooklyn Flea for their Bolzano ryes and buckwheat bread. But at their new brick-and-mortar spot—a bakery-resto hybrid in Gowanus—the soup alone is worth the trip. Essentially what one might call a “stoup,” the stick-to-your-ribs short-rib bowl is an exercise in contrasting textures: The spelt berries are tender with a good chew, the beef chunks soft and succulent, carrots slightly undercooked to keep their bite and broth charged with a meaty richness. 285 Third Ave between Carroll and President Sts Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-576-3360, runnerandstone.com). $9.


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