Great soups at Long Island restaurants
Soup isn't just a good way to warm up: It's an occasion for culinary artistry, and these are local masterpieces. Selections by Joan Reminick.
Taqueria Cielito Lindo(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
On a chilly day, get a bowl of savory, soul-warming pozole rojo at at Taqueria Cielito Lindo in Riverhead. The crimson broth is rife with hominy (dried soaked field corn) and pieces of pork that may have bones clinging to them.
Phayathai(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)
Chef-owner Veerawat Satsri, of Phayathai in Lake Ronkonkoma, makes a tom kha gai (chicken coconut soup) that has a sly electric undercurrent all its own. Also good: tom yum goong, the classic Thai shrimp hot and sour soup, that is both ringing hot and rife with subtleties.
Maria's Mexican & Latin Cuisine(Credit: Doug Young)
The chicken and green chili soup at Maria's Mexican & Latin Cuisine in Nesconset is rife with tender poultry and vegetables. Also on the menu is a deep coral lobster bisque, with heaps of snowy lobster meat crisscrossed by fresh asparagus spears.
Red Ginger Asian Diner(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Red Ginger in East Northport serves a Westlake wonton soup, an egg-drop broth that also floats vegetables and shrimp, that's more of a meal than a side dish.
Tang Asian Fusion(Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick)
At Tang Asian Fusion, a Chinese-Japanese-Thai eatery in Copiague, entree noodle soups are a main attraction. One features roast pork, shrimp dumplings and al dente Chinese egg noodles; another, with shrimp and toothsome, fat udon noodles, makes for happy slurping.
Red Tomato(Credit: Doug Young)
Red Tomato in East Norwich makes an Italian wedding soup that's a happy union of robust chicken broth, al dente pasta and loads of plush, cleverly seasoned mini meatballs.
The Rolling Spring Roll(Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick)
At The Rolling Spring Rollin Farmingdale, the Vietnamese noodle soup called pho (pronounced "fuh") commands center stage. Both the beef and chicken versions start with deeply savory house-made broths. Add-ins -- fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves and lime wedges -- boost the soup further. Surprisingly, pho made with a vegetable base and laced with pieces of fried tofu, works well -- a boon for vegetarians.
Stresa(Credit: Timothy Fadek)
Campagnola is made with white and black beans, lentils and chickpeas, with chicken stock as a base. At Stresa in Manhasset, it's a rustic and refined production finished under a pastry lid; it looks a little like a homey, humble version of Paul Bocuse's classic black-truffle soup.
H2O Seafood Grill(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)
In the opening passage of "Moby-Dick," when Ishmael feels a "damp, drizzly November" in his soul, Melville figures it's time for his whaler to go to sea. An alternative: New England-style clam chowder with applewood-smoked bacon, as served at H2O Seafood Grill in Smithtown.
Pine Aire Fish & Deli(Credit: Jin Lee)
Is soup a meal? That overriding question is answered with a resounding "yes" at Bay Shore's Pine Aire Fish & Deli, a colorful El Salvadoran seafood restaurant adjacent to a fish market. A big bowl of sopa de pescado yields a haul of shrimp, clams and at least one fat slab of red snapper, all swimming in a fragrant, heady brew laced with chopped fresh cilantro. What more do you need?
LL Dent(Credit: Jin Lee)
Southern chef Leisa Dent of LL Dent in Carle Place is justifiably proud of her late father's specialty, Toby's Georgia hash. It's a spicy, pork-laced gumbo that falls somewhere between a soup and stew; a bowlful is all you need to banish the winter blues.
Wild Rice(Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick)
At Wild Rice in Lake Grove, a heaping bowl of roast pork mei fun noodle soup, with a peppery broth, includes lots of baby bok choy, a tangle of thin rice noodles and plenty of juicy, delicious hunks of pork.
The Orient(Credit: Timothy Fadek)
The broth of the soothing tofu-spinach-pork soup at The Orient (in Hicksville and Bethpage) is a soothing elixir. Based on chicken but augmented with a little ginger and perhaps dried scallop, it is light but rich, a perfect foil for the melting cubes of tofu, just-wilted spinach and still-tender pork. It's not on the menu, but is always available by request.
New Chili & Curry(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)
Despite its extreme spice, the Malaysian coriander soup served at New Chili & Curry in Hicksville is nuanced. Other excellent soup options at the eatery include intriguingly complex Thai tom kha chicken-coconut soup and an extraordinary wonton soup, al dente dumplings filled with chicken floating in a peppery broth.