New year, new cold wave. For the past few days in New York, we’ve had the coldest days of the season. Although some may argue liquor is better, we feel that a bowl of soup is the best way to fight the freezing temperatures. Here are some of the best Latin American soups in town.
What: Sancocho is a vegetable, root plant and meat stew – the Latin American descendant of cocido, a Spanish stew made with chickpeas. You can find different sancocho variations all over Latin America, but in New York, the best versions are from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Once an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to using up leftovers, nowadays sancocho is a famous national dish in both countries, made with high quality fresh ingredients. There are differences between the two (in Puerto Rico, it’s usually made with chicken or beef, whereas in the Dominican Republic, it can contain up to seven meats, including chicken, beef, pork, sausage, goat and ham). But both share the hearty, brothy goodness that will soothe even the worst winter day (or hangover).
Where: For Puerto Rican sancocho, check out traditional café Casa Adela. With family photos on the walls and plastic tablecloths it’s the perfect place to have an oxtail, root plants, plantains and vegetable sancocho. (While you’re at it, you should also try the rotisserie chicken). 66 Ave. C, New York, NY
For Dominican sancocho, try Margot Restaurant in Washington Heights. At only $6, the sancocho de rabo is thick with yuca and plantains, and will fill you up for hours. 3822 Broadway, New York, NY 10032
What: Pozole, which translates from Nahuatl as “boiled” or “foamy”, is a traditional Mexican pre-hispanic soup that is the definition of comfort food. There are many variations: red or green, pork or chicken broth – but one constant: hominy, which is nixtamalized corn. The soup is served with garnishes such as radishes, cabbage, salsa, lime and tortilla chips.
Where: Cosme. Cosme is famed chef Enrique Olvera’s new restaurant. Known for his traditional yet fancy and modern dishes, Olvera’s arrival was so eagerly anticipated that once it opened reservations immediately filled up through the beginning of 2015. Cosme’s red corn pozole will surprise those who have had it before and make those who haven’t fall in love with it. 35 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
What: Sopa Tarasca is a tastier cousin of tortilla soup. The broth is tomato and bean based, flavored with pasilla chili and garnished with cream, fried tortilla strips and grated cheese. It was created in the 60s for a hotel opening in Patzcuaro Michoacan, and it wasn’t long before it became a national dish in Mexico.
Where: La Superior. La Superior is arguably Williamsburg’s most popular taquería – you’ve probably heard of their great tacos and antojitos. But their Sopa Tarasca is what diners in the know order during the winter months. It’s a steaming bowl of Mexican comfort.
295 Berry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Aguadito de Pollo
What: Aguadito de pollo is a traditional Peruvian chicken soup – a classic go-to after a night of drinking or to get over a bad flu (which is why it’s often said to be “levanta muertos”). It’s basically a clear broth thickened with rice, pieces of chicken, Peru’s distinctive yellow potatoes, ají amarillo, onions, peas, corn, vegetables and cilantro, which gives it its distinctive green color and taste.
Where: Los Pollos. Los Pollos is a family style Peruvian restaurant in Queens that uses only fresh ingredients for their traditional recipes. What’s so special about their Aguadito de Pollo? It tastes like a Peruvian mom made it just for you. 45-51 46th Street, Woodside, NY 11377
What: In the Colombian capital, Bogotá, Ajiaco is a popular dish typically made with chicken and three varieties of potatoes – a regional variation on sancocho. The use of different types of potatoes (ranging from starchy to waxy) each with different cooking times, creates a very creamy texture and an incredibly satisfying soup. But the key is guasca, an herb similar to a bay leaf that gives the dish its distinct flavor.
Where: Cafecito Bogotá. Cafecito Bogotá is bright little Colombian restaurant in Greenpoint. Every weekend they take five hours of their cooking time to make a very special Ajiaco. 1015 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
What: Encebollado is a fish stew from the coast of Ecuador. Made with fresh fish, yuca, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and spices, it is topped with a tangle of tangy, picked red onions that give the soup its bright flavor. In Ecuador, this soup is the common cure for a chuchaqui (hangover).
Where: Delicias Manabitas. Delicias Manabitas is a tiny restaurant on the border of Astoria and Long Island City. The family pictures on the walls and the TV playing Univision go perfectly with the home cooked style of their dishes. 4205 35th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
Chupe de Camarones
What: Chupe de camarones is a Peruvian shrimp soup reminiscent of a chowder. The concoction mixes ingredients that at first glance don’t seem to go together: potatoes, onions, aji amarillo and aji panca, milk, shrimp, queso fresco, egg and rice. But somehow, the flavors coalesce into a hearty, beautifully bright soup with color and texture you won’t find anywhere else. Having shrimp as its only protein, this dish was usually made on Fridays during the holy week and lent period. Nowadays it’s consumed no matter what day it is.
Where: Mancora. Mancora a lively restaurant in the East Village. Named after the Peruvian beach town it’s not a surprise that the seafood and fish dishes are a specialty. If you are not big on shrimp they also have Chupe de Pescado. 99 First Avenue New York NY, 10003
Caldo de Bola
What: Caldo de Bola is a soup native to the Ecuadorian coast. This caldo is a beef broth, in which ball of plantain that kind of looks like a matzo ball is nestled. It contains a touch of peanuts, pieces of corn and several spices such as garlic, ají and cumin.
Where: Ecuadorian Restaurant Food Co. This Long Island City restaurant serves big, flavorful portions with a home-cooked touch. 4120 34th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101