Warming Winter Soups at Westchester County Restaurants

Cold, dark months call for hearty bowls of comfort.



Chicken noodle, black bean, minestrone, tomato (with grilled cheese!), matzo ball,  lentil. Such are the soups of winter’s repertoire—at least in my house. But since I’m not big on digging out the pots and pans—and opening a can is out of the question (that stuff never tastes like real soup)—I’ve made it my goal to find restaurants where you can sit down and savor a bowl. Most chefs have revamped the classics with homemade stock, seasonal ingredients, and their own personal (and, often, exotic) twists, so that what you’re getting is both a steaming cup (or bowl) of comfort and a budget-friendly way to brighten a winter’s day.

Cienega

Well-made soups are often steeped in customs and tradition, and the Peruvian shrimp chowder at Cienega (179 Main St, New Rochelle 914-632-4000; cienegarestaurant.com) doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this hearty bowl—known as chupe and served as a very filling entrée—is so dense and delicious, you’ll no doubt be asking the chef, Jorge Adriazola, what makes it so rustically intense. The answer: a quintessential blend of Latin flavors including saffron, aji amarillo, onions, Parmesan, and quail egg, plus plenty of creamy potatoes and juicy shrimp.

 

Photo by Paul Johnson

City Limits Diner

Nothing says solace better than good, old-fashioned chicken noodle soup, and at City Limits Diner (200 Central Ave, White Plains 914-686-9000; citylimitsdiner.com), one spoonful is enough to take you back to Grandma’s house (minus Grandma). The aroma alone is instant medicine, but the real magic is what’s inside: large chunks of chicken mixed with generous portions of carrots, celery, and onions in stock that’s made from scratch. In addition to chicken noodle and the ever-popular, Provençal-style fish soup, there is  a rotating soup of the day.

 

Photo by Lindsay Witts

Comfort

You’ll find a variety of vegan soups, such as sweet-potato/coconut and two-bean vegetable, at Comfort (583 Warburton Ave, Hastings 914-231-7711; comfortrestaurant.net), where eclectic, satisfying combinations are the menu’s staple. Those who like their soup sweet will enjoy the coconut, while eating the bean is like sampling winter’s mélange of veggies—the slight warming kick at the end comes from the dash of chili powder.

Ristorante Chianti

 

The recently opened Ristorante Chianti (174 Marbledale Rd, Tuckahoe 914-346-8844; restaurantchianti.com), whose philosophy is “chi mangia bene, viva bene,” specializes in nourishing, oversized portions—cooked with love by Chef/Owner Paul Caputo. His broccoli rabe is an ode to his grandmother’s time-worn recipe, while his pasta e fagioli warms from the inside.

 

 

Méli-Mélo

For those near the Connecticut border, it’s worth the drive to Méli-Mélo (362 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT, 203-629-6153; melimelogreenwich.com) where, amidst a Parisian boulangerie atmosphere, you’re treated to a range of hearty soups, including the French onion gratinée topped with a layer of crusty caramelized cheese. A bit simple, you think? Not when it’s done authentically, with the onions cooking for hours to create a delicious depth of flavor. Extra points for the large (18-ounce) bowl and the crusty French bread.

Photo by Paul Johnson

Moderne Barn

 

A good soup can ease the winter blues with just one sip. So can gorgeous surroundings. At Moderne Barn (430 Bedford Rd, Armonk 914-730-0001; modernebarn.com), you’ll get both. Executive Chef Ethan Kostbar prefers using what’s local,
seasonal, and simple—albeit with hearty Mediterranean touches from his time spent in Israel. High on the list of all-time favorites is his lentil soup with lamb meatballs, fresh mint, and tzatziki. Served with warm whole-wheat pita bread, it’s a meal in itself—and perfect paired with a glass of Malbec. Close behind: Kostbar’s smooth lobster bisque with tarragon, extra-virgin olive oil, and chunks of Maine lobster—an ideal taste of summer in the heart of winter.

 

 

 

Polpettina

The list of options is ever-changing and always seasonal at Polpettina (102 Fisher Ave, Eastchester 914-961-0061; polpettina.com), which recently expanded next door (making soup to go a lot easier). Expect at least two soups a week (at press time, the January lineup had not yet been determined). Most likely, you’ll find at least one meatball variety (the restaurant is Italian for “little meatball” and is known for its chicken, beef, and pork selections), along with popular favorites such as lentil with pancetta, home-style chicken orzo with pecorino and black pepper, and acorn squash with yuzu oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Photo by Ricardo Soares

Tarry Tavern

 

Looking for variety? The soups at Tarry Tavern (27 Main St, Tarrytown 914-631-7227; tarrytavern.com) are always filling, pleasing, and seasonal. Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) with bacon crumbs is among the crowd-pleasers. This month, try the parsnip soup with pears or the celery root with a spinach-potato flan. Both are great ways to beat the winter blues.

 

 

Via Vanti

Anna’s Special Escarole at Via Vanti! (2 Kirby Plz, Mount Kisco 914-666-6400; viavanti.com) is the Italian equivalent of Jewish penicillin. In other words, this hearty meal—piled high with carrots, celery, cannellini beans, tender chicken, and roasted tomato—not only keeps the chill out, it cures what ails you. (PS, It’s named in honor of Anna Gambescia, the owner’s mom.) Just as tempting: the purée of winter greens, a hearty combination of arugula, zucchini, and Swiss chard capped by a feta-topped crostini with chopped tomato and sweet red onion. Whichever soup you select, (and there is a revolving list), we promise you’ll leave the restaurant 10 times happier than you were when you entered.

Soup’s On
No time to sit down and savor your soup? At these take-and-go places (with limited seating), one bowl is literally a meal:
Andy’s Pure Food (46 Purchase St, Rye 914-967-2332; andyspurefood.com)
Black Cat Café (45 Main St, Irvington 914-231-9060; blackcatchef.com)
Esy’s Kafe (1202 W Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck 914-834-4540)
Ladle of Love (11 S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco 914-242-9661; ladleoflove.com)

For Larchmont resident Jeanne Muchnick (jeanne muchnick.com), who’s constantly at odds with her husband over the thermostat setting, nothing’s better than a bowl of hot soup to keep out winter’s chill.