in search of soup...
What is the best soup in the area?
Fall has arrived and it is the season for soup.
I'm excited to have Pho more often as the season gets colder. Plenty of places serving up pho, in chinatown, dorchester, and the super 88 in packard's corner.
New england soup factory has a good selection of soups, although some can be a little salt-heavy. There's one in Newton and Brookline.
I agree about Pho, or the vegetarian equivalent thereof.
One of the best parts is that it is available all day in many places. It makes for a delicious, nutritious brunch/breakfast.
I've seen mothers with young children enjoying Pho in the morning at Pho Pasteur in Chinatown; what a way to start the day.
I have the New England Soup Factory cookbook and the recipes are fantastic.
I haven't eaten there, but I recommend them highly.
Men Tei has a great Roasted Pork Ramen. Ken's Ramen at the Allston Super 88 is better but I think they may be closed. Sapporo Ramen in Porter Sq. has made a great comeback. After years of ramen tasting like the soap they clean the pots, they have come full circle and make a really good Ramen. Try the butter and miso ramen...
Sultan's Kitchen on State St. Boston has a great Ezo Gelin (spicy red lentil) soup.
Aegean in Framingham has a great Avegelemono Greek lemon chicken soup.
Strip Ts in Watertown has great soups.
93 School St, Watertown, MA 02472
Martsa on Elm, the Tibetan place in Davis Sq., has excellent soups.
The portions are not a full meal, but a great start, especially now that there's a chill in the air.
In the Brookline area, we're big fans of Pho Lemongrass on Harvard just south of Beacon. They have a variety of pho soups available but my favorite is the pho satay with beef. One thing though, is that you should ask them to add some extra spice to it as its not overly spicy, which it should be (IMHO!).
Dare I admit to having a fabulous crab bisque at Nordstrom's in Natick? I was impressed. Their caesar salad was also far better than anticipated. I feared a Panera-like extravaganza and my fears were totally unfounded. They have two soups a day. The other was a creamy tomato basil served with a cheese crisp.
I've had two tomato soups lately that were superb:
* At Trattoria Toscana -- actually closer to a panzanella, with currant-sized bread chunks in it
* At Bin 26, served with thick slices of crusty bread cut on the bias
Both of these soups had the three properties I look for on a good tomato soup: a chunky texture that does not feel undercooked or overcooked, but just perfect; a freshness and very slight natural sweetness from the tomato's natural sugars, but not from anything else; and that perfect "tang" but without much of an acid kick.
Garlic Soups. For a Portuguese acorda (thickened with bread, egg poached in broth) style garlic soup (acorda a alentejana) Sunset in Cambridge is the one place doing that style of soup. They also offer a traditional soupa de pedra (with kidney beans)... and most of their soups are good, except the creme de mariscos (blended seafood/tomato broth). The Spanish sopa de ajo is something I ate a lot at Iruna, but have liked Dali's version in the past and Taberna de Haro also has a version, but my experience with that is especially dated.
Caldo Verde (kale/potato/chourico soup) you can get an acceptable version at just about any Portuguese restaurants. I tend to get it most at the Snack Bar in Cambridge and JJ's, at both places (better at JJ's) you can get a prego no pao or bifana as small sandwiches to accompany. Both also have salt cod fritters and rissois de camarao, which go well with this but they are pre-made frozen. Also look for fried quail as another good accompaniment.
Portugalia has better bolinhos de bacalhau and rissois, plus you can sit in the bar for a more informal meal and have a prego (at least). They also have their version of canja (chicken and rice soup, also available at a lot of Cape Verdean) which I think is done with a fresh broth, but isn't very memorable.
Some of the places I have been for Brazilian soups are Petisco's on Medford in Somerville, Samba Bar on Somerville Ave in Somerville, Cafe da Fazenda or Broadway Cafes in Everett (more towards the latter recently, not certain if CdF, but not as wide selection). Petisco's is the best overall choice with the widest selection and good salgadinhos to go with the soup. Samba bar has some small plates (and I think is most known for caldo de mocoto), such as carne de sol or frango a passarinho (fried dried beef, fried bone-in chicken, etc). Note that bouillon cubes are used a lot as well as soup base, may have MSG. Here are some of the soups...
Caldo de Feijao: bean based soup, usually with some sausage or bacon and collards/kale. Sometimes can be more meaty, sometimes additional vegetables although rare here.
Caldo de Pinto: Potato or yucca based soup with shredded chicken breast, usually brazilian seasonings (green onion, cilantro, maybe green pepper, plus paprika for cooking the chicken breast).
Caldo de Mocoto: A heavier broth made with cow hooves and considered a male aphrodisiac in Brasil. Tomato, green pepper, particularly good with hot pepper. Usually you can get a quail egg (ovo de codorna) served with it, another aphrodisiac.
A few other soup type dishes which are commonly served on local Brazilian buffets are Canjiquinha (grits with pork ribs), Vaca Atolada (beef ribs in a yucca broth), and Dobradinha (tripe and white beans). Cafe da Fazenda and Petiscos offer some of these too. I am not entirely happy with the versions of Bobo de camarao (yucca and shrimp broth) served, but Muqueca is the safest bet for this. Oasis does a pretty good Tuesday oxtail, sometimes with yucca (potato is more common and there are good versions with watercress).
Columbian restaurants are usually good bets for soups, you can have them with arepas or empanadas for a lighter meal, but also stewed meat dishes. Ajiaco and Sancocho with oxtail from El Paisa, have had the sobrebarriga a la criolla (stewed brisket or sometimes flank, with potato) at La Fonda paisa and want to try it at El Paisa.
We do not have a huge amount of options for pozole, but there are weekend options in East Boston and around. Have also had some pork based soups in Salvadoran households that I haven't seen as much in taquerias. Sopa de pata and mariscos (I used to like this a lot at Tapatio) are quite common, Lupita is a good bet for chicken soup and pupusas, although I definitely lean more towards the columbian soups now.
I know Pho gets a lot of press on the boards, but don't forget Korean soups/stews also as I think they get overlooked a bit. I'll let others recommend, though.
I love soup, although I find that I am eating more homemade lately, and less in restaurants.
However, some of my personal favorites:
Hot and Sour soup at Peach Farm--my Hot and Sour standard by which I judge other versions
The Soup of the Day (whatever that will be) at Cafe Polonia. The last time I was there, it was a delicious wild mushroom broth with pierogis in it.
Fish Chowder at No Name--a great, milky broth with loads of fresh white fish in it
Roast Duck Noodle Soup with wontons at Hong Kong Eatery (either Chinatown or Quincy)--a flavorful chicken broth with loads of meaty roast duck and wontons, with a big pile of egg noodles to slurp up
Beef Pho at the original Pho Pasteur in Chinatown (don't think they are associated with the Pho Pasteur chain now). A lot of my friends don't like the beef tripe and tendons they throw in, but I like the different textures that provides.
And if you hurry up, you might still catch a meal at Little Q Hotpot in Quincy Center, before it closes. Their Chinese Herbal broth is awesome. The owner told me it contains over 200 ingredients, and it is good for your health. It's a complex flavor and aroma that perfumes everything you cook in it.
Although I'm not overwhelmed with many things on their menu, the beef chili ramen noodle soup at Wagamama is very tasty. It actually has some heat to it, and the broth is flavorful without being too salty.