Long gone are the warm summer days of refreshing lite fair, dining al fresco, and enjoying summer nights. ’Tis the cold-weather season when hearty, heavy comfort meals that warm our bodies and souls.
These cold winter days bring back nostalgic memories of playing in the snow and coming inside to a hot cup of tomato soup accompanied by a grilled cheese mom made on the burner. Bulking up for the cold weather doesn’t just spark childhood memories but also warms us by gaining a little weight around our midsections to prepare for the impending ice and snow. Just like a bear, we tend to hibernate and stay inside on these shortened, colder days.
Soup has always been a mainstay of the working class. Elites and royals snacked on protein-rich meals and left the bones and discarded vegetables for the lower class. Hard-working families, determined to supply their children with nourishment, started to boil those odds and ends together to create a dish filled with the vitamins and minerals they all needed to survive. This hit of nutrients is often associated with an immune system boost, helping one heal from a sickness or flu. Whenever we are feeling under the weather, you will always hear someone suggest a bowl of soup to help us through.
Although we still refer to soup kitchens as a place for the less fortunate to grab a hearty meal, we no longer associate soup with the lower class. Chefs over the years have developed flavors and elevated ingredients to levels our ancestors’ jaws would drop at. There is such an array of choices when it comes to soup. It seems every country has its own variation – from the freshest herbs and vegetables to whichever protein you fancy.
Here in Ulster County, our soup scene is nothing to shake a spoon at:
Stone Soup Food Company
470 Broadway, Kingston
A great casual lunch spot for homemade soups and sandwiches on Broadway. Pick up a picnic to go and choose from at least a dozen different fresh salads, quiches, and cookies. Sandwiches are made to order and stacked tall. Stone Soup offers an array of daily rotating soup flavors, living up to their name. The day I was there, they had six different soups. Thai pumpkin, Seafood Bisque, and Asian chicken with shrimp dumplings to name a few. They also hold the prestige of winning the recent “Best Soup in Ulster County” poll on the Ulster Eateries Unfiltered Facebook group.
590 Broadway, Kingston
You probably don’t think of soup when you think of your local taco spot, but let me tell you: Mexican caldos is not to be missed. With whole short ribs, piles of cilantro and spice, it’s like drinking your favorite taco. The fat and bone collagen floating on top of the soup with extra chiles, and a squeeze of lime is a thing of beauty. Don’t forget the tortillas on the side to dip in your broth. Mexico Lindo always hits the spot for tacos, quesadillas, or traditional Mexican soup.
3407 Cooper Street, Stone Ridge
Located off Route 209, Asia has grown a cult following for its authentic and elevated Asian flavors. Not your average Americanized Chinese restaurant. Owner and Chef Christine is sure not to disappoint you with her house-made Thai lemongrass coconut soup. The Tom Yam and Hot and Sour are no slouches either. With a hit of coconut milk and cilantro, the lemongrass is to die for. Surely not to miss. One taste and you’ll know why it has a following.
Adams Fairacre Farms
1560 Ulster Avenue, Lake Katrine
Let’s be honest, who hasn’t heard of Adams? A Kingston staple, with an array of daily soups served on their hot buffet bar. With rotating flavors daily, you are sure to find one to warm your soul. Adams is always a go-to for specialty grocery in Kingston, and they’ve been big supporters of our local community for many years.
The Kitchen at Salt & Fire
124 Partition Street, Saugerties
When does a soup become a stew? Well, I’m adding the new Kitchen at Salt & Fire to my list as the best soup I’ve had this year. The seafood soup was an instant hit with a huge portion of mussels, clams, a huge shrimp, and fresh bass. This bowl of hearty seafood was big enough to be an entree on its own. Chunks of fish, asparagus, and cream hit the spot just right. They have rotating soups of the day, so be on the lookout for this gem.
52-154 Main Street, New Paltz
Let’s not forget the noodle soups like ramen and pho. The Vietnamese soup pho, consisting of bone broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced meat, also served with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, limes, chiles is a flavor explosion. The contrasts of spicy, sour, salty, fatty, crunchy hit all sectors of the taste buds. Your first bowl of pho is an enjoyable experience not soon forgot, as you’ll be hit with flavor complexity we don’t often see in American soups. IPho in New Paltz is a must-slurp for any soup lover.
Jason Bover runs the Ulster Eateries Unfilitered group on Facebook for thousands of local foodies, and works with local restaurants to attract more customers.