Pork Bone Soup at Lao Bei Fang ($3.25)
Perhaps the best value soup on our list: three massive pork bones in a rich pork broth for 13 quarters. This soup is all about the marrow, which you can pick out with your chopsticks. Be greedy.
Lao Bei Fang: 83-05 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373 (map); 718-639-3996
Pickle Soup at Karczma ($3.75)
Wonton Soup at Noodle Village ($6)
The best wonton soup in Chinatown and, with Sifu Chio in Flushing, our favorite in the city. The rich chicken broth has a distinct homemade flavor, the noodles always have a nice snap, and the dumplings—in all their variations—are well done.
Curry Mee at Nyonya ($7.25)
One of our favorite Malaysian spots in the city, this bowl of soup is rich with a coconut milk broth and fragrant with chilies and lemongrass. Egg noodles, fish-stuffed peppers, and tofu puffs drink in the orange broth.
Matzoh Ball Soup at Ben's Best Deli ($5.50)
The best matzo ball soup is homemade, and Ben's has admittedly gone through its ups and downs. But the golden chicken broth and fluffy matzo ball here are especially comforting. Get a cup on the side with your pastrami.
Consome de Chivo at Tacos El Bronco ($7.50)
Both the restaurant and nearby taco truck serve this warming, spicy soup full of goat meat stewed to tenderness in an electrifying broth of chilies, cinnamon, and herbs. It's among the best birra you'll find in New York.
Small Wonton Soup at Lao Wang Ji ($2.50)
The Fujianese-style wontons in this soup are whisper-thin and filled with tiny nubs of pork. They're great, but the real draw here is a chicken broth that surprises you with just how chickeny it is. Fancy restaurants could learn something from this simple but amply meaty broth.
Lao Wang Ji: 41-28 Main Street, First Floor, Flushing, NY 11355 (map)
Tomato Soup at Queens Kickshaw ($7)
A tomato soup so rich you could almost sauce your pasta in it. Queens Kickshaw's soup tastes like sweet, cooked-down tomatoes and not much else, including cream, which leaves this soup buttery but not at all heavy.
Lentil Soup at Almayass ($8)
Peanut Soup at Ebe Ye Yie (Chris Crowley)
Tomato, onion and eggplant are cooked separately before being blended together and then mixed with unsweetened peanut butter, dried fish and magi bouillon cubes. Thick and fairly spicy, the soup has an interesting range of flavor that emphasizes the peanut butter and dried fish with a natural and agreeable sweetness from the tomato.
Ebe Ye Yie: 2364 Jerome Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10458 (map); 718-220-1300
Lentil Soup at Kofte Piyaz ($3.10)
A thinner, lighter take on lentil soup that's perfectly creamy and graced by a gentle onion sweetness. A mound of dried mint comes on top, adding texture and herbal complexity to one of our favorite lentil soups in the city.
Kofte Piyaz: 881 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map); 347-227-7036
Tan Tan Men at Tabata ($10.50)
The chicken broth ramen at Tabata is a world away from New York's pork broth ramen. It's lighter and sweeter but just as savory in its own way. This soup adds nubs of ground pork and oily sesame seeds for a meaty, nubby kick with the springy noodles.
Okra Soup at Ebe Ye Yie ($8)
This is not a soup featuring okra; it's okra as soup. It has a light and humming heat, one that will make your lips tingle, and a slightly earthy and funky flavor that is so characteristic of the cuisine. Not as heavy as the restaurant's other offerings, this okra soup is also surprisingly rich and unusually bright.
Ebe Ye Yie: 2364 Jerome Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10458 (map); 718-220-1300
Mushroom Soup at Kebeer ($5)
Begova Corba at Ukus ($5.50)
Chicken, okra, and rice form the basis of this especially agreeable chicken soup, but it's the bed of sour cream on the bottom that make it special (and a fun surprise). The soup welcomes the sour cream's tanginess, and the especially rich sour cream adds a lovely texture to the broth.
Ukus: 4208 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103 (map); 718-267-8587
Hakata Kuro Ramen at Hide-Chan ($10)
One of our favorite bowls of ramen in the city, with an earthy, salty, and ever-so-slightly grainy broth stained with squid ink and from a mellow roasted garlic oil, and very white, very thin straight noodles from Sun Noodle. Shredded cabbage, scallion, and an add-it-yourself tub of pickled ginger provide a welcome crunch.
Mushroom Barley Soup at B & H Dairy ($4.50)
Thick, creamy, and totally homemade-tasting, this is the diner mushroom barley soup you've always wanted. Be sure to get some excellent homemade challah to sop it up.
B & H Dairy: 127 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (map); 212-505-8065
Budae Jjigae at Pocha 32 ($27)
Born out of post-Korean war poverty, budae jjigae ("army base stew") is a mix of spicy, fishy broth, noodles, and all manner of meats from hot dogs to Spam. At Pocha 32, the communal pot (which serves at least four) comes with springy noodles, tofu, spam, and aged mozzarella cheese, a gooey note of indulgence on top of this cold-curing soup.
Hand-Pulled Noodles at Cafe Kashkar ($6)
One of the city's few Uyghur restaurants turns out a beautiful bowl of springy, slightly chewy noodles in a delicately spiced broth flavored with chili and star anise. Beef and greens are the soup's main ingredients, but it's really all about that just-spicy-enough broth that keeps you going back for more.
Cafe Kashkar: 1141 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (map); 718-743-3832
Khao Soi at Uncle Boons ($20)
A chicken leg quarter gets braised until fall-apart tender, then simmered in a rich, coconutty northern Thai-style golden curry and served with thick hand-rolled egg noodles. It's a heavy soup but with layered flavors, and a handful of pickled shallots and mustard greens brightens it up.
Seolleongtang at Gahm Mi Oak ($17)
This milky, creamy ox bone broth is stewed for hours at Gahm Mi Oak, conveniently open 24 hours a day for your post-drinking or hangover-fighting needs. The mild soup comes with a few slices of beef, but you're expected to add salt, scallions, and yes, MSG at the table.
Noodle Soup at Yun Nan Flavor Garden ($5.50)
Round Yunnan-style rice noodles are the backbone of the mild soup. Toppings like tender stewed beef or pork cracklings are great additions, but for a really special soup, go for the super-tender intestines.
Yun Nan Flavor Garden: 5121 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map); 718-633-3090
Borscht at Veselka ($4.75 for a cup)
Veselka may not nail all the Ukrainian classics, but their vegetarian borscht is a force to be reckoned with. Deeply flavored with a rich, beet-y body, it hits all the sweet and spicy notes you wish lesser borscht could reach.
Hot Pot at Mister Hot Pot (Price Varies)
Mister Hot Pot makes some of our favorite hot pot in the city for one big reason: their mild pork broth, which is almost as milky and creamy as ramen broth. We like it loaded with green vegetables, tofu (fried and fresh), and some fish balls for good measure.
Anchovy Broth Noodle at Arirang ($11.50)
Comfort food, Korean-style: a mild anchovy broth sweetened with scallion and carrot. The soup comes with your choice of thick handmade noodles or more irregularly-shaped dough flakes. Both are thick and doughy; we like getting a mix for textural contrast.
Chicken-Lemon Soup at Christos Gyro & Souvlaki ($3.25)
This Bronx spot makes one of our favorite bowls of Greek soup in the city: straightforward and uncomplicated, but salty and lip-smacking with the lemon's tart sweetness. As you drink more of the soup, the lemon flavor comes on stronger, but it never overtakes the soup's poultry backbone. Soft but not mushy rice waits at the bottom, mingling with strands of chicken.
Christos Gyro & Souvlaki: 3525 Kingsbridge Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10463 (map); 718-405-6464
New England Clam Chowder at Littleneck ($7)
Why can't all clam shacks be as good as Littleneck, and why can't they all make such good clam chowder? Tiny cubes of potato, plenty of tender chopped clams, a little pork belly, and a broth thickened by oyster crackers more than flour make for a chowder that rivals—and bests—many up north.
Sancocho at El Economico ($4)
Pork and chicken, potato and yuca, and enough oregano to add spice to it all. A starchy-but-not-too-starchy bowl is the must-order at this Dominican restaurant.
El Economico: 5589 Broadway, Bronx, NY 10463 (map); 718-601-5577
Duk Man Doo Gook at Kofoo ($8)
This solid Korean lunch spot serves a big bowl of vegetarian soup. Loaded with chewy rice cakes, cucumber, vegetable dumplings, shredded omelet, and seaweed, it's a filling meal for anyone, but with lots of to offer those avoiding meat.
Kofoo: 334 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10001 (map); 212-675-5277
Pho at Sao Mai ($9)
New York still needs to up its pho game, but in the meantime we have Sao Mai, an East Village spot with solid renditions on typical Vietnamese dishes, pho included. It comes with thick slices of fatty brisket, beef round, and some dense but spongy meatballs. The broth is pleasingly earthy, spiked with star anise, and suitably gelatin-rich. The garden of fresh herbs that accompany it—basil, cilantro, mint—brightens the soup, adding vibrancy and freshness.
Boe Thuk at Phayul ($6)
Our favorite soup at this Himalayan gem, a beef and egg noodle bowl has a powerful sweet richness like that of marrow or butter. Floating on top are specks of thangyul, a Tibetan mountain herb that's reminiscent of oregano or fenugreek.
Phayul: 74-06 37th Road, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map); 718-424-1869
Onion Soup at Bell Book & Candle ($9)
The incredible French onion soup at M. Wells Dinette isn't a year-round dish, but the "Irish" version at Bell Book & Candle sure is, and it's vegetarian to boot. A dried shitake broth gets topped with a thick layer of Gruyere and oak-smoked Irish cheddar for a smoky, intensely savory take on the classic.
Soba Noodles at Cocoron (Price Varies)
How does eating a big bowl of noodles feel healthy? By doing it at soba shop Cocoron, where the soy sauce-spiked broths are slightly sweet and full of nuance. We love pretty much all the broths at Cocoron, but the Yuba Soba with dashi and nutty soy milk is one of our favorites.