Just about everyone I know has a cold right now. They snuffle, they sniffle, they choke and cough. And I know what they need. They need soup.
For those of us without the foresight, fortitude or free time to make and freeze quick stock for quick soups (and yes, I often find I've left my freezer lacking at exactly the wrong time), New York City provides many delicious options. (Thanks, New York!)
Here's my Top 5 NYC soup fixes for those days when I'm feeling horrid and lacking the time and energy to make soup:
1. Pho Grand (277 Grand Street, between Eldridge and Foresyth, close to the Grand St. B/D stop)
My truly favorite sick-day soup is pho (which looks like it might be pronounced foh but is properly pronounced more like fuh), a gingery Vietnamese beef broth with noodles. It's traditionally served alongside wedges of lime, crisp bean sprouts and sprigs of fresh mint and Thai basil.
You dress it as you like it with the garnishes so it's always to your taste (and I usually stir in a teaspoon of Sriracha sauce because I adore the heat).
I get my pho at Pho Grand because I dig the proximity to J's place and the Vietnamese diner feel. At Pho Grand, the pho is both delicious and cheap, and they'll make you up a quick pack for takeout. They have lots of variations, but my fave is the Pho Bo Lui because it comes with sesame beef.
2. Cafe Medina (9 East 17th Street, just west of Union Square)
Tasty, inexpensive soups and a nice variety of 'em. Choices vary by day. Walk all the way to the back to find the soup station. Ask for a taste if you're undecided. I recently had the chicken chowder and the eggplant-lentil. Both were very satisfying soups.
3. Rai Rai Ken Ramen House (214 E. 10th Street, near 2nd Ave)
I love Momofuku and Setagaya ramen, of course, but fashionable and loud or frenetic and bright are not what I'm looking for when I'm feeling low. What I want is a large, deep bowl of steaming ramen soup with dim light and low music. I want it full-flavored, filling and cheap. And I also get a huge kick out of the crazy white and magenta surimi disc that floats on top of a bowl of Rai Rai Ken ramen.
4. The Soup Kiosk at Fanelli's Cafe (94 Prince Street, west of Broadway)
A good bunch of good soups. Too bad they're only open during the day. But you're probably taking the day off work anyway. Choose one off the short list here and take it home where you can convalesce in peace. Or better yet, send someone reliable to go stand on line for you. After all, you're sick. You need your rest.
5. The Soup Spot (220 West 31st Street, between 7th & 8th Aves)
If you happen to be closer to Penn Station than Soho, you'll be better off hitting this soup shack. Unfortunately, they're also a lunch-only option and you won't be the only one standing in the soup line. But in this case at least, business also happens to be a reliable indicator of goodness.