7 Super-Tasty Soups To Keep You Warm All Winter Long

Around this time of year, when we're craving comfort food, soup is so much better than a Shake Shack burger. It's a meal in a bowl, it's steaming hot, it's restorative, and it's often cheap to boot. There's good borscht, split pea, and hot and sour to be had in this town, but we decided to restrain ourselves, giving you our favorite soups in seven clear categories: ramen, pho, pan roast, butternut squash (our seasonal pick), matzo ball, tomato, and clam chowder (Manhattan, of course). And, if you noticed the obvious absence of chicken noodle, it's no mistake—we just haven't found one right here in NYC proper that blows our minds. If you have, be sure to let us in on your findings…our bowl awaits!
Check out seven super tasty soups to keep you warm all winter long.
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Butternut Squash: Seersucker

What conjures thoughts of leaves crunching underfoot and warm, nubby sweaters more than butternut squash soup? It is the ultimate fall dish, and the southern-style version at Seersucker is our favorite. Chef Robert Newton switches up the toppings: sometimes he serves it with pickled cherries, and sometimes with spiced pecans and popcorn on top, but the base is always super creamy. The butternut squash comes from the nearby Carroll Gardens Greenmarket. (We'd be remiss if, while on the soup track, we didn't mention Seersucker's chicken and dumplings. Chicken, carrots and celery are cooked in a (there's really no other way to describe it than) chicken-y-broth, which then becomes home to a gang of pillowy dumplings. The very welcome update on the classic? A piece of fried chicken skin balanced on top of the whole shebang. It's not on the menu right now, but if you help us plea hard enough, maybe we can bring it back.)

Seersucker, 329 Smith Street, (at Carroll street) Brooklyn; 718-422-0444

Photo: Courtesy of Seersucker
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Tomato: The Smith (pictured) and The Queens Kickshaw

The new Smith, which just opened in Midtown, is bigger than the old one, but it still comes complete with the subway-tiled interiors it's known for. (Never fear, East Villagers, the first Smith still exists.) Roasted tomato soup comes à la French onion, with a lid of cheddar cheese broiled until bubbling and brown at the edges. Puncture it with your spoon, and you'll find a rich, tomato liquid below the surface that's so thick it could be marinara. Tomato soup traditionalists, look no further than the Queens Kickshaw, which serves a sweet silky version to accompany a host of grilled cheese sammies.

The Smith 956 Second Avenue (between 50th and 51st streets); 212-644-2700.

The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway (at 41st street), Astoria; 718-777-0913.

Photo: Via The Smith
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Manhattan Clam Chowder: Grand Central Oyster Bar

Sitting at the bar of Grand Central's Oyster Bar, slurping on Pipes Coves is one of those quintessential New York City experiences. It feels very old New York and although it's casual, you'll want to dress up a little just to honor the place. You'll also want to order the tomato-based clam chowder, which is pleasantly salty like the sea. One caveat: This soup isn't made for take-out--you want it piping hot. See what the Midtown Lunch team had to say about that.

Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street (at Park Avenue), (212) 490-6653, oysterbarny.com

Photo: Courtesy of Grand Central Oyster Bar
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Matzo Ball: 2nd Ave. Deli (pictured) and the Mile End

Old-schoolers will prefer 2nd Avenue Deli's straightforward version with homey broth and those thick coins of cooking carrots. But Mile End's matzo ball soup, which, although it's close to the classic, it's been given slight tweaks that make a world of difference. Chef Noah Bermanoff's broth is delicate; because of the baking powder (not kosher, but hey), his matzo balls are light and fluffy, not dense; and he sprinkles a healthy dose of grassy dill over the dish.

2nd Avenue Deli, 162 East 33rd Street, (at 2nd Avenue); 212-689-9000.

The Mile End, 97A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street), Brooklyn, 718-852-7510.

Photo: Courtesy of Second Avenue Deli
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Pan Roast: The John Dory Oyster Bar

There are fancier things on the menu at The John Dory. You could order the marinated figs with miticrema, prosciutto and frico or the Vermont burrata with delicata squash, brown butter and sage. But why, when there's an oyster pan roast on offer? The broth—if you can call it that, it's so thick—is pleasingly garlicky and the oysters ever-so plump. (And to be fair, it's also pretty high-brow: it comes with a charred sliver of toast that's been slathered in uni butter.) Grab a pound of coffee beans from Stumptown, also housed in the Ace Hotel, on your way home.

The John Dory, 1196 Broadway, (at 29th Street); 212-792-9000.

Photographed by Amy Hou
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Pho: Xe Lua

We love us some Pho Bang, but step into Xe Lua and you feel transported from cold gray New York November to warm, sunny Polynesia. The seaside murals and fake bamboo chairs are enough to make you want to stick around for a while, and the bathtub-sized bowl of house soup will require it. Meaty dishes are winning here, too, so if you want to split your pho with a friend and then move on to some Vietnamese pork chops, we say go for it.

Xe Lua, 86 Mulberry Street, (at Canal Street); 212-577-8887.

Photo: Courtesy of Xe Lua
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Ramen: Ramen Setagaya

Like everything else, New Yorkers are opinionated about their ramen. The ramen wars have sparked intense debate: Traditional or Momofuku-fied? What's more important, the broth or the noodle? Among the options—Rai Rai Ken, Ippudo, Minka, and Totto, to name a small handful—we prefer Setagaya's smoky pork belly and salty broth, not to mention the quick turnover at the stop-and-slurp counters and the Japanese cooking shows playing on the flat screen.

Ramen Setagaya, 34 Saint Marks Place, (at 2nd Avenue);212-387-7959.

Photo: Courtesy of Ramen Setagaya