Hot eats and drinks to keep you warm through this frigid weekend

·12 min read

It's cold out there.

Sip some soup, dig into a hearty stew and — why not? — nurse a hot toddy.

Can you think of more delicious, fun ways to keep your body warm and your spirits high? Neither could we.

Check out our list of great hot soups, sumptuous hearty stews and buzz-worthy toddies to warm you to your core.

Soups

Chicken matzoh ball soup at Mikki & Al's Noshery, Montclair

Chicken matzoh ball soup at Mikki & Al's in Montclair.
Chicken matzoh ball soup at Mikki & Al's in Montclair.

Natalie Lee, chef and owner of Mikki & Al's, a darling kosher-style deli in Montclair, confides that the matzoh balls in her chicken soup are so light that, if she's not careful, "I can easily eat six."

"They melt in your mouth," she added. "You don't need teeth to eat them." She lovingly calls them pillows of joy.

You'll find those pillows in a hot bath of housemade chicken soup enriched with bits of tender chicken and thick slices of sweet carrots and still sweeter parsnip.

"This is not diner soup," Lee said. "When people taste it, they can tell we made it. It didn't come out of a jar."

And, according to Lee, it can be medicinal. She took two quarts to a friend who felt sick after getting the COVID vaccine. The friend, she said, drank it right out of the container. "Two hours later, she was a new person."

You can order the soup online for pickup or have it delivered via DoorDash or GrubHub.

Go: 14 Park St., Montclair; 973-744-7100, mikkiandals.com.

Pumpkin Soup at Restaurant Serenade, Chatham

Creamless pumpkin soup at Restaurant Serenade in Chatham.
Creamless pumpkin soup at Restaurant Serenade in Chatham.

Chef James Laird is a wizard when it comes to soup. His bowls — no matter what's in them: corn, lobster, tomatoes — are wonderfully rich and velvety though none sport any cream or for that matter butter. "I can make food without fat," he told The Record for a profile a few years ago. "Fat is cheating."

Currently Laird is offering two soups: potato leek with artichoke chips and black truffle shavings and pumpkin soup with chestnuts, apples and chives. You can dine in to enjoy the soups or order online and pick up.

Go: 6 Roosevelt Ave., Chatham; 973-701-0303, restaurantserenade.com.

New England Clam Chowder at Maison Soup, Fair Lawn

New England clam chowder at Maison Soup
New England clam chowder at Maison Soup

Maison Soup, which resembles an Italian deli with checkered floors, offers eight soups made fresh every day; it has 74 in rotation. Its bestseller is the New England Clam Chowder.

"Even people who live in the New England area say it is one of the best," says co-owner Nicole Ward. She, too, is a "big fan."

The soup is a brew of briny clams, rich cream, flavorful chicken stock, celery, carrots, onions and potatoes, How to secure a quart or more? Pickup (including curbside) and delivery available.

Go: 11-08 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn; 201-254-9281, No web.

Mom's chicken vegetable soup at Farmhouse Cafe & Eatery, Cresskill and Westwood

Tomato bisque at Farmhouse Cafe & Eatery
Tomato bisque at Farmhouse Cafe & Eatery

This rustic, bustling restaurant is owned by Israeli couple Elisa and Nathan Kipperman, who owned a variety of casual spots in New York City. The couple readily admits that Elisa is the "foodie." Customers would line up around the block for her soups at the Soup Kiosk in SoHo.

North Jersey food lovers know, too, to head to either location for a bowl of warm hearty soup, especially when the temperature starts to fall. Mom's Chicken Vegetable Soup may be the most popular but don't overlook the turkey chili or tomato garlic bisque. Order with one of its oversized salads, and you've got yourself a nice healthy lunch or dinner.

Online ordering available.

Go: 301 Center Ave., Westwood; 201-664-8424 and 15 E. Madison Ave., Cresskill; 201- 266 8931, farmhousecafenj.com.

Mushroom Bisque at The Circle, Fredon

The Circle in Fredon was opened by chef and co-owners Brendan Ullmann 27, and Tyler OÕToole 29, during the pandemic, in March 2021. Ullman and OÕToole met while working at the famed Jean-Georges in NYC.  Mushroom bisque, hen-of-the-woods, pickled honshimeji, creme fraiche, thyme.
The Circle in Fredon was opened by chef and co-owners Brendan Ullmann 27, and Tyler OÕToole 29, during the pandemic, in March 2021. Ullman and OÕToole met while working at the famed Jean-Georges in NYC. Mushroom bisque, hen-of-the-woods, pickled honshimeji, creme fraiche, thyme.

The Circle, a contemporary American restaurant that opened in Fredon in March, currently may be the best restaurant in New Jersey. It is owned by two skilled young chefs: Brendan Ullmann, 27, and Tyler O'Toole, 29.

Just about everything on their menu is heavenly, including a wonderfully warm mushroom bisque made with a boatload of hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, some creme fraiche and a sprinkling of thyme. Intensely earthy, woodsy and flavorful, it will have you wondering if the mushroom soups you've ever had before were complete imposers. It costs $14; for $6 more, you can get it with three grams of black winter truffles.

The Circle is taking a short break until Jan. 18. But you can make reservations for when it opens — and slurp away then.

Go: 310 Route 94, Fredon; 973-862-6410, thecirclerestaurant.com.

Ramen at Ramen Matsu, Closter

Ramen made fresh daily at new Ramen Matsu In Closter
Ramen made fresh daily at new Ramen Matsu In Closter

Call ramen the Asian penicillin. It's the Japanese version of chicken noodle soup — a big, simmering bowl of intensely flavored broth, thick slurpable wheat noodles, generous slices of tender pork (or chicken), some crunchy greens and, if you're lucky, half of a hard-boiled egg.

Jiro Matsumoto, a Harrington Park resident and Japanese native, is so infatuated with ramen that he quit his job two years ago to work in various ramen restaurants and study in a cooking school in Japan. This past October, he opened his ramen spot in Closter and ramen lovers have flocked to it to either dine in or pick up a bowl to enjoy at home.

Go: 207 Closter Dock Road, Closter; 201383-9990, ramenmatsu.com.

Swiss onion soup at Madeleine's Petit Paris, Northvale

Swiss onion soup at Madeleine's Petit Paris
Swiss onion soup at Madeleine's Petit Paris

Swiss onion soup? Isn't it French onion soup?

Francois Caloz, chef-owner of this longtime classic French restaurant, calls his onion soup Swiss an homage to his parents, Madeleine and Gaspard Caloz, the original owners of the restaurant. They hail from Switzerland. However, Francois notes, the cheeses that top this gratinéed soup are Swiss: Emmental and Gruyere. So, perhaps Swiss onion soup is more accurate.

The two cheeses, nice and gooey from a turn under heat, sit atop housemade croutons that float above chicken broth. Caloz prefers to make the base with raw onions, keeping the soup light and clear. Others caramelize the onion first, which results in a dark brown-broth.

You can enjoy the soup at the restaurant or pick it up there and take a container home. However, you'll have to assemble the soup and heat it up in your kitchen; the cheese and croutons come in a separate container. Otherwise, Francois said, the cheese, which will cool off, will become too chewy.

Customers apparently don't mind, he said. He's got customers who even order souffles to go.

"I tell them that it will fall," he said. "But they don't care."

Go: 416 Tappan Road, Northvale; 201-767-0063, httpsmadeleinespetitparis.com.

Pho at Ma Mi Eatery, Closter

Vietnamese pho at Ma Mi Eatery
Vietnamese pho at Ma Mi Eatery

Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, (pronounced pha) has grown in popularity year after year since the soup began to show up on our shores in the latter part of the '70s. With good reason. It is rich in flavor and protein, vitamins and minerals.

Joseph Diovisalvo, chef and owner of Ma Mi Eatery, uses his grandma's recipe for the pho he serves at his super-casual Vietnamese restaurant. The recipe is basic: beef bones, ginger, onion, star anise and cloves. The longer those ingredients simmer together on the stove, the more flavorful the soup.

Diovisalvo lets his soup cook for six to seven hours. The rich liquid is added to rice noodles and beam sprouts and topped by slices of raw beef. You can opt to get yours with chicken, tofu and vegetables or seafood.

Dining in, takeout and delivery available.

Go: 546 Durie Ave., Closter; 201 254-9281, mamieatery.com.

Hot toddies

Millburn Standard, Millburn

Try the Ziggy’s Gift, made with Maker’s Mark, hot chai and oat milk, from Millburn Standard.
Try the Ziggy’s Gift, made with Maker’s Mark, hot chai and oat milk, from Millburn Standard.

Millburn Standard has three hot cocktails on the menu – one sweet, one chocolate-y and one spicy. Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas Cider is a sweet apple cider spiked with rum. The Die Hard (is a holiday movie) cocktail is hot chocolate with a kick of cayenne pepper, white chocolate liqueur and tequila. If you’re up for a bit of spice, opt for the Ziggy’s Gift: Maker’s Mark, hot chai and oat milk.

Go: 42 Main St., Millburn; 973-376-4444, millburnstandard.com.

Jersey Spirits, Fairfield

The Caffe Corretto from Jersey Spirits is made with distilled grappa and espresso coffee.
The Caffe Corretto from Jersey Spirits is made with distilled grappa and espresso coffee.

Jersey Spirits is known for making its own small-batch spirits, but it also serves some tasty cocktails. Warm up with the house-made Apple Hooch. Some drink the hot hooch as is, said owner John Granata, while others kick it up a notch with a bit of bourbon. A tea hot toddy is also available with whiskey and (if you request it) a bit of Apple Hooch. Caffe Corretto is a third, made with distilled grappa and espresso coffee. The grappa is sourced from wine pressing scraps made by local Fairfield residents.

Jersey Spirits will soon launch a hot chocolate, as well, said Granata, made with cinnamon whiskey.

Go: 1275 Bloomfield Ave., Fairfield; 973-227-5333, jerseyspirits.com.

Porter, Weehawken

Porter's hot toddies are $10 during happy hour.
Porter's hot toddies are $10 during happy hour.

Head to stylish restaurant Porter (one of our favorite restaurants of 2021) for $10 hot toddies during happy hour ($15 regularly). A healthy splash of Henry McKenna bourbon is mixed with lemon, simple syrup and ginger for this steaming cocktail.

Go: 1100 Ave. at Port Imperial, Weehawken; 201-430-8415, porterportimperial.com.

Stirling Tavern, Morristown

Warm up with this hot toddy and spiked hot chocolate from Stirling Tavern in Morristown.
Warm up with this hot toddy and spiked hot chocolate from Stirling Tavern in Morristown.

This cozy tavern has two hot drinks to make you feel even cozier on a cold winter’s day. The Tavern Toddy is a classic — bourbon with honey, lemon, hot water and cloves. In the mood for something sweet? Try the Mexican hot chocolate with house-made cocoa mix, Serrano-infused tequila and homemade toasted marshmallows.

Go: 50 South St., Morristown; 973-993-8066, stirlingtavern.com.

The Archer, Jersey City

Try the Hot Penicillin from The Archer. It includes blended scotch, Islay scotch, lemon, ginger and honey.
Try the Hot Penicillin from The Archer. It includes blended scotch, Islay scotch, lemon, ginger and honey.

The Archer, with its homey yet stylish speak-easy vibe, is known for its hot mulled cider. Hose-mulled with your choice of spirit and topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg, it will warm you right up. The Archer's take on a hot toddy is the Hot Penicillin, with blended scotch, Islay scotch, lemon, ginger and honey. Less traditional options include a hot sazerac and a hot mai tai with Jamaican rum, curaçao, orgeat and cream.

Go: 176 Newark Ave., Jersey City; 201-309-1090, archerbar.com.

Stews

Chofi Taco, Union City

Chofi Taco in Union City is one of the most popular birria spots in New Jersey
Chofi Taco in Union City is one of the most popular birria spots in New Jersey

When you get right down to it, birria is a stew served in a taco. Most restaurants in American use beef braised in bone marrow broth flavored with chilies, tomatoes and a cabinet of spices. The long, slow-cooking process turns the meat tender and velvety — ready to be folded into a durable corn tortilla that is slightly thicker than most.

Perhaps North Jersey’s best-known birria joint is Chofi Taco in Union City. It opened in 2020 and is owned by married couple Patrick Flammia and Kim Martin-Flammia.

Go: 1706 Summit Ave., Union City; 201-430-6515, chofitaco.com.

Kabab Paradise, Teaneck, Lake Hiawatha, Randolph and South Bound Brook

Ali Saleh, owner of Kabab Paradise, a Halal Afghan restaurant, said his favorite dish in the restaurant is lamb korma. The stew is cooked for six hours, rendering the meat so tender "you don't have to chew it," Saleh said.

Go: Go to kababparadise.com to find your closest location.

Shoti, Fair Lawn

Definitely start with the khachapuri (otherwise known as boat bread) at Georgian restaurant Shoti. A thick vessel of bread will be served to you full of melted cheese and soft-cooked eggs in the hollowed-out center. And then move on to kotnis lobio, a thick kidney bean stew with fried onions.

Go: 14-29 River Road, Fair Lawn; 201-272-1900, shoti-bread-house.business.site.

Marjan Persian Grill, Morristown

A specialty at 12-year-old Persian restaurant Marjan is the fesenjoon. Owner Reza Manehsh cooks the pomegranate and walnut stew for at least eight hours to let the walnut oils release, resulting in a sweet and sour sauce. The stew then gets ladled over chicken or vegetables.

Go: 84 Speedwell Ave., Morristown; 973-889-8884, marjanpersiangrill.com.

Sierra Madre, Bergenfield

Sierra Madre — a bare-bones market that also sells prepared Filipino dishes and baked goods — opened in 2019. At the tables set up in the entryway, you’ll find Bergenfield locals digging into various stews offered at Sierra Madre’s hot prepared food section. One such dish is sisig, finely ground meat made with parts of pig head and chicken liver, seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili peppers, served with a mound of white rice to soak up the juices.

Go: 28 E Main St., Bergenfield; 201-771-7103, facebook.com/sierramadrefoodmart.

Jerk'D Modern Caribbean Kitchen, Hackensack

Chef-owner Marva Layne, a 64-year-old Hackensack resident who was born in Jamaica, had owned restaurants in New York City for more than 30 years. Jerk'D is her first restaurant in New Jersey.

Layne cooks with hardly any butter. She offers quinoa. And she even serves food in pasta bowls. But no matter the dish, she threads in the flavors of her country and uses its cooking techniques. Meats are marinated. Sauces are made with fresh lime and cilantro. And Jamaican spices make regular appearances in nearly everything, including a customer favorite, rich oxtail stew.

Go: 363 Essex St., Hackensack; 973-826-9232, jerkdkitchen.com.

Sambong Naeng Myun, Palisades Park

Galbi tang and a side of dumplings at Sambong Naeng Myun.
Galbi tang and a side of dumplings at Sambong Naeng Myun.

Sambong Naeng Myun is an uber-popular restaurant for slurpable, satisfying noodles. If you don’t look closely (it's tucked away on the second floor of a complex on Broad Avenue), you may pass right by — big mistake. Sambong specializes in naengmyeon, a thin, chewy noodle made of buckwheat, sweet potato and other starches served cold. But it also serves galbi-tang, a hearty hot stew made from beef short ribs.

Go: 110 Broad Ave., Palisades Park; 201-945-6300, no web.

Tang Maru, Palisades Park

Chilly weather is no match for the gamja-tang at Tang Maru, a spot set apart from the main drag on Broad Avenue that specializes in Korean stews. The broth is creamy with some heat, courtesy of perilla seeds, a cilantro-esque herb often used in Korean cooking. Meaty pork neck bones and hefty potatoes mingle and absorb the broth until they're tender and flavorful.

Go: 500 10th St., Palisades Park; 201-482-8744, tang-maru.com.

Walia Ethiopian Restaurant, South Orange

Tiny Ethiopian restaurant Walia has plenty of hot, simmering stews on the menu. A favorite is the vegetarian split lentil stew seasoned in spicy berbere sauce.

Go: 11 Village Plaza, South Orange; 973-762-2186, waliarestaurant.com.

Stern & Bow, Closter

Skip Stern & Bow’s raw bar on frigid days and opt for New Orleans gumbo. The dish is satisfying and strongly flavored. Shrimp, chicken and sausage swim in a broth with vegetables and plenty of Cajun seasoning.

Go: 171 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; 201-750-3350, sternandbowrestaurant.com.

Esther Davidowitz is the food editor for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.

Email: davidowitz@northjersey.com

Twitter: @estherdavido

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ weather: Hot foods, drinks in North Jersey for cold front