Is there anything more clichéd than chicken soup?
That is a rhetorical question. The answer is no, and I won’t drag you through some extended joke where I invoke the universality of the dish by comparing it to the sprawling list of titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. (Even though as a woman in publishing, I am fascinated by how far they’ve taken that brand and would love to know how Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul did well enough to publish a sequel.)
But this column isn’t about publishing or horses or clichés: it’s about cooking. And for this issue’s Three Dishes, we’re examining three iterations of the world’s most anodyne dish from three New York restaurants.
Take one is pure, steaming chicken juice to be sipped from a mug. It’s Marco Canora’s recipe for bone broth, a foodstuff that was hot like Icarus in 2014 but
remains delicious today, made at home or picked up from either of the two outposts of Brodo.
Take two is the food of my people: a dead-simple matzo ball soup, from Katz’s
Delicatessen, a paragon of delis on the Lower East Side. Jake Dell, who runs Katz’s today, gives us a no-nonsense classic run-through of the recipe, the sort of simmer-it-in-a-pot-and-let-God-sort-it-out attitude that usually gets ascribed to grandmotherly cooking.
The third spin on chicken soup is a loads-of-work curry called khao soi from
Thailand, courtesy of Ann Redding and Matt Danzer of Uncle Boons in Nolita. Khao soi, if you don’t know it, is a soupy stew of chicken, coconut milk, egg noodles, and lots of herbs and spices, topped with garnishes like shallots, lime, pickled mustard greens, and more of those egg noodles fried into a crispy tangle. It is unexpectedly complex compared to the simplicity of the first two soups, but eating it scratches that same, clichéd comfort itch and shows the range and diversity of forms that chicken soup can take.
A restorative broth that's so satisfying you'll want to sip it by itself.
Fluffy dumplings the size of baseballs and a grandmother-tested method make for the most delicious and massive matzo ball soup possible.
A traditional take on the curry soup, with the added flair of cilantro noodles.