Bowls of Everything: The 10 Best Soups in Brooklyn This Winter

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Perhaps you’ve heard by now, but the biggest food trend of 2015 is shaping up to be… broth. Yes, that’s right. Let’s leave Cronuts and Ramen Burgers and Bruffins and all of that bullshit firmly behind us in 2014 and move right along to the next new thing, which isn’t really “new” at all. Broth, of course, as not only a dietary building block, but also a steaming hot elixir loaded with medicinal properties, has been around forever. And there’s really no better time of year to indulge in a steaming bowl of broth—whether in its purest, unadorned form or loaded with delicious additional bits—than right now; winter is the perfect time for soup. Obviously. Obviously! What are you even doing existing in winter if you aren’t enjoying one of its greatest side benefits, namely, eating/drinking hot stuff? 

Anyway, yesterday, I went right to the broth source, Brodo in the East Village, and had a huge (medium) cup of gingered grass-fed beef broth with some Calabrian chili oil and beet kvass (aka fermented beet juice—earthy!) added in. Because it’s a sipping broth, it’s served in a to-go coffee cup, so you can walk around in the cold, drinking it and feeling superior to everyone who’s just going around with boring old coffee. All of Brodo’s menu options (there’s also chicken broth and Hearth broth, a combo of chicken, turkey, beef) manage to taste both delicate and rich at the same time. And what’s more? I was completely sated after finishing my broth. Like with all good soups, even if it seems insubstantial at first, it will actually fill you right up, and certainly leave you feeling better than if you just inhaled a burrito bowl or something. So in honor of broth—and soup in general—and winter and eating things, here are the ten best soups that you really ought to be slurping down this winter.

Broth from Mountain: While Brodo might not be in Brooklyn (yet? one can dream), there are other places to get delicious broth. Mountain serves some of our favorite options including a vegetarian one for the non-carnivorous among us who still want to enjoy the benefits of broth. Besides the sipping broths, Mountain also has excellent soup options, all built on a base of their slow-simmered broths, including the umami-rich Smoky Mountain Miso, with red dulce and mushrooms, and the Tonifying Chicken Soup, with Chinese herbal chicken stock.

Mountain: 903 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights

Escarole and Cannellini Bean from Frankie’s: This classic Italian comfort food is rich and vaguely bitter from the escarole and—while certainly more sophisticated—is just as comforting as a bowl full of chicken broth and pastina. And nowhere in Brooklyn does a better rendition than Frankie’s.

Frankie’s: 457 Court Street, Carroll Gardens

Mampar from Cafe Kashkar: This Uyghar spot has a specialty: lamb. And it’s everywhere, including in its broth. This soup is comprised of a delicately spiced lamb broth and studded with bits of roughly torn dough and is the perfect soup to enjoy right before taking a long, wintery walk on the nearby boardwalk. Just, you know, bundle up.

Cafe Kashkar: 1141 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brighton Beach

Hand Pull Noodles with Beef from Hand Pull Noodle and Dumpling House: Brooklyn’s other Chinatown is in Bensonhurst, and this 18th Avenue spot proves why the area is a rival for your Sunset Park affections. The noodles (even the rice ones!) are perfectly springy against your teeth and the beef broth is beautifully rich without being even slightly oily.

Hand Pull Noodle and Dumpling House: 7201 18th Avenue, Bensonhurst

Spicy Crab Corn Chowder from Randazzo’s Clam House: Known for its spicy red sauce, usually served over seafood and pasta, you kind of already know that Randazzo’s does not disappoint when it comes to spicy, liquidy foods. But you still won’t be completely prepared for the warmth, no, the heat, of the spicy crab corn chowder, which has a delicious salinity from the crab and a beautifully creamy base. Just what you want in a winter soup.

2017 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay

Matzoh Ball Soup from Mile End Deli: And for those times when you wish you’d had a Jewish grandmother (or even just a grandmother who cooked for you at all), the best place to go is Mile End Deli for their exemplary Matzoh Ball Soup. The broth is rich and flavorful and the matzoh ball is lighter than any other you’ve ever had. How do they do  that? Who cares. Just eat.

97 Hoyt Street, Boerum Hill

Borscht from Cafe Glechik: Simply put, Russians know how to eat in the winter. Dumplings, meat, sour cream… these are all foods that will fill you up and keep you warm and allow you to just get through the grayness. And what better way to beat the drab monotony of cloud-covered skies than with a bright red bowl of earthy borscht? None. None better. And Cafe Glechik serves up the best version of traditional borscht in Brooklyn. Plus it comes with a side of garlicky, savory pompushka bread. Because woman (and man) cannot live on soup alone. (Although we’re trying!)

3159 Coney Island Avenue, Brighton Beach

White Borscht from Lomzynianka: And for those times when you don’t want traditional borscht? And just want a tangy soup studded with slices of kielbasa and a hard-boiled egg? That’s when you go to Lomzynianka for the feremented rye white borscht, which might not be what springs to mind when you think “borscht,” but which is satisfying and filling and just right for a cold winter day.

646 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint

Asam Laksa from Pasar Malam: So even though it’s obvious that Russian and Polish cuisines would provide plenty of great cold weather dining options, the truth is that there’s almost nothing we like to eat better in winter than spicy cuisine originating in places that have never seen a single flake of snow. And the prime example of this is the Asam Laksa from Pasar Malam. This tangy soup is ultra-spicy and perfectly sour and completely addictive. The thick broth (more of a gravy than soup, maybe) is loaded with a pungent fishy flavor (that’d be the sardines and shrimp paste) and made fresh by an abundance of lemongrass and mint. So good.

208 Grand Street, Williamsburg

Spicy Saboro Miso Ramen from Ganso: And finally: Ramen. Our favorite winter ramen comes courtesy of Ganso, which offers many exemplary types, though the one we’re currently obsessing over is the Spicy Saboro Miso, which comes with ground pork and a perfectly cooked egg and greens and pork belly. Yeah, this is pretty much what we’ll be slurping up all winter. And you should too.

25 Bond Street, Downtown Brooklyn

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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