01/23/16 12:05pm

Weather Jonas With Our Favorite Winter Soups

Now that King Frost has officially made his presence known with the arrival of winter storm Jonas, it is officially soup season. Sure I’ve had plenty of bowls over the course of the past two months. But now it’s on, time to bring in the big guns. So here are seven of my favorites spanning a variety of styles—from sweet medicinal Chinese concoctions to savory noodle soups and spicy sinus clearers—and regions, including Southeast Asia and Latin America. Best of all you can find all of them without leaving the world’s borough, Queens.


1. Pozole rojo, Taqueria Coatzingo
This Jackson Heights cantina is known for its tacos, but the specials are the real stars. That’s where I discovered pozole rojo, the spicier cousin of the Mexican pork and hominy soup. As the name implies, the broth is red—very, very red—thanks to loads of chilies. Pozole rojo employs chicken rather than pork as a base.  Served with the standard pozole fixings of diced onion, cilantro, and lime as well as shakers of oregano and red pepper, I like it think of it as Mexican penicillin. Add a few squeezes of lime along with a handful of onion and the other seasonings for one of the most head-clearing soups to be found on Roosevelt Avenue. Sour, spicy, and packed with fresh herbs, hominy, and chicken it’s sure to cure what ails you. Best of all it’s always on the specials menu! Taqueria Coatzingo, 76-05 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-424-1977


2. Papaya and white fungus soup, KULU Desserts
This Flushing cafe carries on the Chinese tradition of tong shui, or traditional Chinese sweet medicinal soups. One of my favorites is the papaya white fungus soup, a comforting brew of crunchy snow ear mushrooms, chunks of sweet papaya, and Chinese almonds. Papaya aids in digestion, so it’s something I like to have after a big meal. The frilly white fungus is said to benefit the respiratory system. I have a feeling I’ll be sipping a lot of this sweet soothing brew this winter. Kulu Desserts, 37-06 Prince St, Flushing, 718-886-3302;  806 62nd St, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn,  718-680-2818; 123 West 3rd St., 212-658-0865


3.  Roat Det, Mamu Thai
A tidal wave of Thai noodle soups has washed into New York City, and Queens in particular, over the past three years. Elmhurst is ground zero for this guay tieow  renaissance, but one of my favorite Thai noodle soups can be found in Astoria at Mamu. “Are there mushrooms in this?” I asked the first time  I tried roat det ($10.50), a long-cooked beef noodle soup possessed of an incredible depth of flavor. The chef assured me there were none. Tender slices of beef, translucent rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, garlic oil, and house-made pork rinds make for one of the most comforting bowls of Thai soup around. Mamu Thai Noodle, 36-02 36th Ave, Astoria 718-707-0407



4. Giu lin mi fen, Giu Lin Mi Fen
The house special gui lin mi fen ($7.25) at this Flushing newcomer is quite special indeed. For one thing it’s presented in two bowls. One contains spaghetti like strands of rice noodles topped with beef shin, pickled green beans, green onion, roasted peanuts, cilantro. Two generous slices of deep-fried pork lay casually atop everything, a meaty afterthought. The other bowl contains a milky broth. To eat zheng zong gui lin mi fen (authentic gui lin rice noodle) as it’s known in Chinese pour the broth over the noodles and give it all a good mix. The waves of flavor and texture—salty pickled veggies, crunchy roasted peanuts, meaty beef, crunchy pork, bright cilantro, and rich broth—are astounding. Need some more heat? Avail yourself of the bright orange concoction that looks—and tastes—like it belongs in a West Indian eatery.  Gui Lin Mi Fen, 135-25 40th Road, Flushing, 718-939-2025


5. Gamjatang Geo Si Gi
Looking for a soulful, spicy soup for a group? Then Geo Si Gi, a Korean gamjatang specialist, is your spot. The pork neck casserole offered in five variations, including dried cabbage, kimchi, curry, and seafood, is built for sharing, starting at $29.95 for the most basic version for two people and topping out at $57.95 for the seafood gamjatang for four. I always get the kimchi gamjatang, a stew of monolithic hunks of pork neck and spine, kimchi, and lots of vegetables including greens, bell peppers, and mushrooms, and rice cake that’s cooked tableside.  The earthy red broth is flavored with red chili peppers, garlic, pork, and ground perilla seeds, among other ingredients. Still peckish after your pork bone casserole? Don’t worry your friendly waitress will whip up a fried rice with the broth remaining in the pan.  Geo Si Gi,  152-28 Northern Blvd., Flushing, 718-888-0001


6. Soto ayam, Asian Taste 86
Despite the generic name Asian Taste 86 is an Indonesian restaurant. The menu skews toward Surabaya cuisine from the capital of East Java. Soto ayam, an Indonesian chicken soup, is served Surabaya style—tinged yellow from plenty of turmeric—with a heap of koya, a pungent powder of mixed prawn crackers with fried garlic, and a side of rice. It’s one of my secret weapons when I have a cold. The piping hot broth, brimming with shredded chicken and cabbage, is most restorative, particularly after the addition of a tablespoon of bright orange sambal. Asian Taste 86, 86-10 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-779-8686


7. Chicken and rice soup, EIM Khao Mun Kai
This specialist in khao mun kai, a Thai chicken and rice dish, makes its presence known with waves of ginger and chicken fat scented rice that perfume the air just outside the door.  As much as I love the signature dish the, chicken and rice soup is where it’s at for me come winter. The gingery broth sports plenty of chicken and the aforementioned rice. When I’m feeling really under the weather I like to doctor up my bowl with crushed garlic and green chilies. Eim Khao Mun Kai, 81-32 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-424-7156

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