Lentil with lemon at Zaytoon's warms the belly.
Photo by Joshua Kristal
The archetypal mother who serves homemade soup to her sick and snow-weary children is right: Sometimes the only way to warm up is from the inside out. But where to duck in on a cold winter day when you’re craving a bowl and don’t have any stew bubbling on the home fire?
South Brooklyn features some fine bowls of house made soup. I’ve chosen five of the best, for eating out or slurping in.
The good thing about soup is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Enter the lentil soup at Smith Street’s popular Mediterranean cafe, Zaytoons. The pale yellow, lightly-pureed soup has been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening in 1988. The homemade blend of lentils with a hint of lemon is just $4 and is served piping hot, with a sprinkle of paprika and parsley and accompanied with soft, house-fired pita. Squeeze the lemon into the soup for the best effect.
When it comes to chicken soup, Caputo’s Fine Foods in Carroll Gardens sells an excellent take-out chicken noodle soup that tastes like your grandmother made it. For a twist on the classic, try Karloff’s dark chicken soup with meat dumplings ($8). True to its name, the dark broth has glorious hints of chicken fat and skin but it is the addition of savory meat dumplings that really makes this bowl of soup shine. The toothsome dumplings — tasty alone — only improve with a dunk in the rich broth.
In honor of all the Jewish moms out there, Mile End turns out inspirational borscht ($6.50). Though the restaurant had a simple, cold version available over summer, the winter adaptation is much more nuanced, with a base of tomato, apple cider vinegar and beetroot. Julienned cabbage, carrots and black kale mingle with fingerling potatoes, rosemary and garlic in the deep crimson broth. The generous bowl is topped with a dab of sour cream and a dash of olive oil. It’s an excellent starter to the Boerum Hill restaurant’s tender beef brisket.
At $10, Buttermilk Channel’s roasted squash and sweet potato soup better be good, and it is. It would be easy to make a meal of this hearty soup that balances the melodrama of squash with the more levelheaded flavor of sweet potato. But wait, what’s that floating atop the thick broth? Yes, the tiny bracing sprigs of rosemary and salty black olive croutons keep this soup interesting down to the very last spoonful.
Erin Behan has called Carroll Gardens home since 2003, when she moved from a spacious two-bedroom house in Atlanta, to a “cozy” one-bedroom in Brooklyn, overlooking the scenic BQE. Besides learning the ins and outs of New York real estate, she got a first-hand look into the city’s nightlife and restaurant scene as the nightlife and then restaurant editor at Citysearch.com. Her off-hours exploits include founding the blog ABrooklynLife.com and working as a freelance writer and editor. She lives with her husband, son and two cats in what she considers one of the better real estate deals in the neighborhood.
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