Man, after the past few weeks the city has had, I think I speak for more than myself when I say we could use a good, soothing cup of chicken soup right about now. Named after that famous series of inspirational books in the 90s (that is still being published today!), Chicken Soup for the Soul Day celebrates not only the dish in its title, but the act of preparing, cooking, and sitting down and savoring a bowl of chicken soup. Chicken soup itself is one of the oldest soups around, its base ingredients just being chicken parts boiled in water to make a clear broth, and nearly every culture in the world (or, all those that eat chicken) has a history of making chicken soup. What a culinary pedigree! Very often, traditional American chicken soup is made from the boiled meat and bones of a chicken, the flavored broth water, and a bunch of simmering vegetables, like onions, carrots, and celery. Noodles or rice can be added, but aren’t necessary. The longer you let the whole soup simmer over a stove top, the richer the flavor is of the broth and all the ingredients–which is why chicken soup always brings to mind the image of an old grandma cooking a big batch of chicken soup all day and serving it to her loved ones for comfort. Chicken soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods, anywhere you go in the world!
Since it’s such a home-cooking kind of dish, you don’t find it in many high-end restaurants. (Maybe you should–it’s about time chicken soup is elevated to the standards of haute cuisine!) But in the small soup-and-sandwich cafes dotting every neighborhood of New York, you’ll always find a chicken soup on the menu. And in some places, like Cafe Medina in Union Square, you’ll be sure to find more than one. While their sandwiches, panini, and customizable salad selections are all pretty rote fare for a Manhattan cafe, their soups go above and beyond the simple call for an office worker’s hot lunch. You’ll be sure to find the traditional American chicken soup, served with noodles in the broth, on any day of the week, but keep your eyes peeled for their ethnic specialty soups on different days. They offer chicken soup with farfalle, cooked homestyle, as well as Thai chicken soup, Indian chicken tomato, and an African chicken peanut. Think you know everything there is to know about chicken soup? Think again! Try out one of these chicken soup standouts and your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised.
9 E 17th St (between W Union Sq & Broadway)
“Bypass the omelettes and panini on the lengthy menu at this Union Square eatery in favor of liquid fare that’s much tastier than a bowl of chicken noodle. Sip from a rotating roster of five ethnic-inflected soups including African chicken peanut, Moroccan vegetable couscous, bouillabaisse and parsnip bisque.”–Time Out New York
“Draws regular lunch crowd with wide variety of the usual sandwiches, salads, panini, and other deli fare. Sail past it all to the soup station at the back, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the greatest liquid gold in New York. Reliable classics, but seasonals really shine, like winter’s pumpkin corn bisque that’s so meaty it doesn’t need meat. Spicy lamb and African chicken stews among several other standouts.”–Black Book Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“What truly won me over was their soup selection. They offer a variety of about 10 different concoction, all homemade, fresh and interesting – plus plenty of vegan options if you’re into that sort of thing. My favorite: Thai red curry chicken soup. DANG! That stuff is seasoned with sweet and spicy crack, I swear. Throw in green beans and juicy chicken pieces and you’ll be licking the lid.”–Jane K.
“Simply put, this place rocks. The soups are among the best in the entire city. Tomato Bread, African Chicken Peanut, Indian Veggie Mulligatawny soup are a few of my favorites – but all the soups – hot or cold – are incredible. The panini sandwiches are good, and the salads have a bevy of different toppings – but the real gem is the hot/cold self-serve bar.”–Jason P.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!