by Christine Liu - 156 Reviews - 111 List
Soup holds a fabled place in the comfort-food canon, a belly-warming dish recalling the aromatic simmerings of our youth. Whether it channels a pure clarity of flavor or combines ingredients in layered complexity, a steaming bowl of Boston's best soup is a welcome winter treat. The gamut runs wide, from pork belly-laced clam chowder to curried Malaysian noodle soup, with each spoonful just as soothing as the last.
(Photo: Fall carrot soup at Oleana by Christine Liu)
Updated: December 14, 2009
If you distilled all the goodness of the autumnal harvest and then cloaked the richness under a spicy little cap, you'd come up with something brilliant like Oleana's fall carrot soup. The height-of-the-season puree is topped neatly with a black kale lamejun (a crispy, bready disc of Middle Eastern origins), wearing fat dollops of fresh mozzarella and hot pepper labne (yogurt cheese). Each drop is soul-searchingly intense.
In addition to a heaving appetite, you should bring a discreet pack of tissues to confront the formidable Malaysian curry mee noodle soup with strength--and ultimately--victory. The spicy, coconut milk-enriched broth hosts a hodgepodge of treasures (including a tangle of rice and egg noodles, eggplant, bitter melon and fried puffy tofu stuffed with minced fish) in one enormous sinus-clearing package. Prepare to daub your brow for an hour or so.
The Druid's Irish seafood stew is delicious enough to make us want to tug on a cabled knit sweater, raise a pint and kiss a salty, weatherworn fisherman. The hefty soup tosses an astonishing amount of mussels, clams, shrimp, cod, carrots, potatoes and green beans in an impressive array. Fish and chips is soooo wrapped in last year's newspaper.
As opposed to some other food "factories" that shall go nameless, the New England Soup Factory is squarely local, independent, from-scratch and driven by seasonal ingredients. The restaurant's 100-plus soup variety is dizzying, from curried crab and coconut to eggplant Parmesan, but it's the classics that we crave most. When the next nor'easter hits, we'll be clutching chicken pot pie stew or matzo ball soup tightly to our tummies.
An attempt to proclaim the best chowder in the city--a much-ladled icon 'round these parts--would be a rabble-rousing move indeed. However, we hold great esteem for chef Jason Bond's native corn and oyster chowder, a seasonal treat that would make any Bostonian proud. Incorporating locally grown sweet corn, Beavertail oysters from Narragansett Bay and dry-cured pork belly, the chowder coaxes the fierce spirit of New England into a conveniently slurpable format.