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The best soups, stews and soul-warming bowls in NYC

Take on New York City's freezing temps with these steaming soups, hearty stews and comforting bisques

By Christina Izzo and Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo |
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The heart of winter is downright bone-chilling and while comfort-food dishes like casseroles and fried chicken are a quick fix, there's nothing more restorative than piping-hot, soul-warming soup. Whatever your preferred slurp—broth, bisque, ramen—these are the best soups around town. Dip a spoon into one of these potages to soothe your wind-chapped cheeks and bring fire back in your belly.​

DIRT CANDY cabbage hot pot
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Vegetarian

Cabbage hot pot at Dirt Candy

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Vegetable whiz Amanda Cohen translates the traditional Chinese soup she loved while living in Hong Kong to a tableside teapot service at her Lower East Side eatery. Her steaming rendition hits hard on the greens: Smoked-cabbage broth is served in a kettle alongside ramen-style noodles cut from cabbage and kale dough, plus an array of accoutrements (lotus root, pickled ginger, watermelon-radish kimchi) and sauces (house-made chili oil, black vinegar, soy sauce). $30 for two, $35 for four.

UPLAND cioppino
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Upland cioppino at Upland

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Bridging Justin Smillie’s California roots and Italian-kitchen tenure, this seafood stew pulls influence from the Boot and the Bay Area. The crock of salt-brined tomato-and-fish broth is spiced with zingy Korean gochujang (fermented chili paste) and loaded with an ocean's worth of Carabineros shrimp, clams, lump crab, striped bass and mussels. $35. 

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BLACK ANT chapulin bisque
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Mexican

Chapulin bisque at Black Ant

icon-location-pin East Village

At this bugged-out East Village cantina, chef Mario Hernandez imports salt-dried chapulines (grasshoppers) from Mexico for his creamy bisque, fortified with sautéed potatoes and apples. A riff on Mexican chapulínsalsa, the smooth spoonfuls are stirred with spicy vegetable stock and topped with potato croquettes and a smattering of queso Oaxaca. $9.

LE FOND celery root soup
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, French

Celery root soup at Le Fond

icon-location-pin Greenpoint

After steeping celery root and yellow potatoes in milk, Jacob Eberle doubles down on the dairy, adding generous pats of butter to his silky, pureed soup. The velvety concoction is frothed just before being poured at the table, around a center dollop of tangy Greek yogurt crowned in rustic, hand-torn rye croutons, blanched carrots and deep-fried sage. $9.

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ALL'ONDA italian ramen
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Italian

Italian ramen at All'onda

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

Chris Jaeckle earned his Italian stripes at Ai Fiori after sharpening his Japanese skills at Morimoto—those gastro passions collide in this belly-filling bowl, bobbing with both porchetta and shio kombu. House-made noodles and shaved brussels sprouts soak up Parmesan dashi broth, but it’s Calabrian chili oil and parsley that give this pot its Venetian accent. $17.

Acqua pazza for two at Rosemary’s
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Restaurants, Italian

Acqua pazza at Rosemary's

icon-location-pin West Village
Fisherman’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. Bowl for two $50.
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Matzo Ball Soup at Jack's Wife Freda
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Matzo ball soup at Jack's Wife Freda

icon-location-pin Nolita
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 (the Freda), 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. $7.
Westlake Rice Porridge at Mission Chinese Food, MCFNY, warm bowls, LES
Photograph: Jolie Ruben
Restaurants, Contemporary Asian

Westlake rice porridge at Mission Chinese Food

icon-location-pin Two Bridges
On a menu drenched in chili oil and sprinkled with Szechuan pepper, chef Angela Dimayuga’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. Dimayuga puts a chefly spin on the humble workaday bowl: Tender hunks of diced rare steak, trout roe, scallop floss 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. $16.
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World-class tomato soup at Earl's Beer and Cheese
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Bars, Beer bars

World-Class Tomato Soup at Earl's Beer and Cheese

icon-location-pin East Harlem
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 this hot, piquant tomato soup is in order. The sweet tomato puree gets its 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. $7.
Short-rib soup at Runner & Stone
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Restaurants, American creative

Short-rib soup at Runner & Stone

icon-location-pin Gowanus
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—this 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, the carrots slightly undercooked to keep their bite and the broth charged with a meaty richness. $9.
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