Five Soups to try this in New York this Fall

1. Café 2’s Tomato Soup — currently closed due to COVID-19

After peeling off the layers that kept you warm on your way to the Museum of Modern Art, you leave behind most of what you came in with at the coat check and make your way toward the art. In an attempt to forget the stress of the week and feel something with passing strangers, you walk through the halls quietly and just look. It has been a while since you’ve had some time alone like this. You wander until you find yourself hungry. Not yet done with your museum visit, you go to the second floor’s Café 2. With a desire to save your money, you order the cheapest thing on the menu that would still be considered a meal: the tomato soup.

You sit on the long bench by the window. The soup comes rather quickly in a square bowl with a side of chips. Without much thought, you pick up the spoon for your first taste. It’s the good kind of warm that you can feel glow in your stomach without burning the roof of your mouth. You find yourself crying over how this soup makes you feel. The soup is equal parts salty and nostalgic. You only put the spoon down to scoop more soup into your mouth with the chips. You didn’t know it then, but from the moment you woke up, this was the point of today. After scraping the bowl with no mind for manners, you take the final spoonful like communion, meant to purify you before you head out into the world again.

Memory to pair with this soup:

Any good memory of your dad. For me, it was the grilled cheese sandwiches he would make me after the divorce. How I would sit on the big brown couch trying to find a good movie to watch and wait for dinner to be ready. After the toaster oven dinged, he would cut and plate the pita bread he stuffed with local cheese and sit on the couch to my left. We would watch some movie I was probably too young to see, but just to be with my dad after everything, just to eat this simple meal, meant the world. This soup pairs well with the kind of happiness we tend to unlearn as we grow older.

2. Rice & Miso’s Miso soup — Open Tues-Sat, 10am-4pm

Densely cloudy, the miso is served to you quickly, as is all the food, a blessing in a bowl. It is warm but not too hot, letting you sip it as soon as it gets to your table. Instead of tofu, you’ll find sliced juicy mushrooms floating around in the broth. The soothing warmth, the captivative smell, and the fermented taste ground you here on this block in Cobble Hill. It doesn’t matter if you came here alone or with someone you love, this miso soup — like all good miso soup — forbids you from speaking, encourages you to sit quietly, fish mushrooms with your plastic spoon and drink the broth. It urges you to solely exist to enjoy this soup. Within five minutes, the soup is gone. Although your stomach is far from full, you feel satisfied and at ease as you move on.

Memory to pair with this soup:

Having a cold as a child. For me, it was this one time I had a high fever and bad cough in December when I was seven. After a scalding shower that my grandmother insisted would help me “sweat out” the germs, I had my hair wrapped up in a towel and my fuzzy pajamas laid out for me. Once I was dressed, I put on two socks on each foot and made my way downstairs to the kitchen. I sat on a wobbly stool and my grandma brought out a warm soup. Chunks of leftover chicken and whatever vegetables were about to go bad floated in this black pepper and cayenne packed broth. She sat next to me in one of her many fancy robes, rubbed my back with Vicks VapoRub, and told me all about her day. I felt faint but in that moment I became aware of how much my grandmother loved me. This soup pairs well with an early memory of love from a family member.

3. Mile End’s Matzo Ball soup — Open 8AM-9PM weekdays, 8AM-8PM weekends

As soon as you are blessed with it, the shining pools of chicken fat and the single, loving matzo ball catch your eye. You try the broth first, joyful and comforting. The broth alone could be a meal. Then, almost as easily as it gave in to your spoon, the matzo ball submits. Although the pepper percentage was inconsistent, you cannot help but forgive it. With a texture unlike any other Matzo ball in New York, this one salty Matzo ball, the one in your soup specifically, must be the best one in the world. Beneath it, under enough rich broth that you cannot see them yet, lay a few patient slices of snappy carrots, pale celery, and tender onions that you will devour with equal joy. The shreds of sentimental chicken sink to the bottom of your bowl and must be urged out with your spoon. When the bowl is empty, because that is the only way any logical person would be done with this soup, you come to terms with the fact that you’ll likely have to save any other food you ordered for your next meal.

Memory to pair with this soup:

Any good memory of worship. For me, it was just last year, during apple season. I sat on my bedroom floor, inches away from my small altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe with a paring knife and a freshly washed farmer’s market Granny Smith apple. Pressing my thumb against the apple, I sliced into the snappy skin and brought the first slice into my mouth. Abundantly tart and crisp, this apple slice, and every other slice that came after it, brought me immense joy. Every bite was better than the one before until I was left with nothing but the stem and a few seeds. They were left at the altar, a symbol for all the joy from the apple that was not mine to keep. This soup pairs well with a memory of sacrifice.

4. Pret’s Moroccan Lentil

This soup seems to last forever, it holds you in its warmth even as you go on to frantically respond to work calls. Healthy, and full of flavour, the lentils allow you to go on with your day feeling like a real, responsible adult. This soup quickly becomes anyone’s go-to from Pret. Although the waste production is unfortunate, by the time you toss out the empty container, you are full and motivated. In doing something good to your body, you do something good for your soul.

Memory to pair with this soup:

Moving into your first apartment. For me, it was a place in Crown Heights. Two narrow flights of stairs proved an excellent bonding tool for my three roommates and me as we helped each other bring heavy boxes with glassware and mattresses and records and clothes. By the end of that week in late August, piles of things lined our walls, and we sat on the floor for our first ever roommate meeting. Exhausted and excited, we went over house rules and cleaning schedules in the only room that had installed their A/C already.

5. Sopa de Bola de Rosy’s Encebollado — 8AM-10PM on weekdays, 6AM-10PM on Saturdays, 7AM-8PM on Sundays

This soup is joyful in its colour, smell, and taste. In a combo, it comes with rice, chicken, half a plantain, and a small coconut drink. The soup itself is mustard yellow and cilantro heavy. Although it isn’t spicy, the spice blend makes it feel warm even as it settles into room temperature by the time you get home. A spoonful of the broth coats your mouth in beef fat and feels like it’ll both heal your heart and clog it completely. With a squeeze of the accompanying lime, it becomes bright and youthful. The bola itself, both fluffy and doughy, is full of veggies and meat and it floats in the soup along with some thick onion wedges, half a potato and a tender slice of beef, still in bone. The romance of this soup overwhelms you. When you are full, your heart breaks in the knowledge that this culinary embrace has ended until you find yourself at Rossy’s again.

Memory to pair with this soup:

Your first kiss. For me, it was in Kindergarten. We were in his playroom. I was trying desperately to find Waldo and he was sitting a few feet away playing Luigi’s Mansion on his Gamecube. This was how we spent every day after class. My mom would drive us to school and his mom would drive us to his place after to have broccoli cheddar soup and play until my mom got off work. That day was different. Before I went home, he paused the game and asked me to wait. He stood, all three feet and some inches tall and asked: “can I kiss you?” And I replied with a logical question: “what if I get pregnant?” With the heavy seriousness the question warranted he responded. “I’ll drop out of school and we’ll make it work.” This soup pairs well with a warm memory of young rebellion.

Mexican senior at The King’s College.