Soup gets a bad rap. Some people consider anything in liquid form a pathetic excuse for a meal. We wholeheartedly disagree, and we think you might too once you’ve had a little look at this list.
Truth is, while Europe is (deservedly) renowned for fine foods and for a number of the world’s most famed soups, we personally think Asia is where soup’s at. It’s generally filled with meaty treats, it more often than not involves noodles, and almost always works well with chili. The soup joy trifecta.
Here’s our Asia soup hit list.
1. Ramen, Japan (for pork lovers)
Before you jump to any conclusions, we’re not talking about those little packets of flavourless instant noodles. Real Japanese Ramen is a thing of beauty. Ramen has had a pretty decent surge of popularity outside Japan of late, and for good reason. It’s salty and rich and delicious and addictive.
An intense broth made from pork bones and miso or soy, depending on your preference, filled with stretchy noodles, and topped with sliced pork, nori, kamaboko, green onions, and in the best instances, a soft boiled egg, Ramen is kind of the king of pork-based soups. You may feel your heart arresting mid-slurp but ride it out, you’ll be back for more tomorrow.
2. Pho, Vietnam (for condiment lovers)
A Vietnamese classic, Pho is pretty much our go-to for any ailment or affliction. Little bit hungover? Pho. Feeling rundown? Pho. Bad breakup? Pho. It’s the mum hug of the food world.
The broth’s made on beef bones, oxtails, onion, ginger and a combination of Vietnamese cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seed, fennel and clove. The result is a fragrant, hearty, soul nourishing soup, filled with rice noodles and topped with slices of fresh beef. It’s pretty simple, but half the joy is in the additions. The soup comes with a plate of fresh beanshoots, basil, chili and lemon that you can add at your own discretion.
While Pho is universally delicious, it definitely tastes better slurped in the backstreets of Ho Chi Minh City with a cold beer.
3. Laksa, Malaysia (for coconut lovers)
Malaysia pretty much has soup in the bag. Laksa is like heaven for your mouth. It’s spicy and coconuty, it generally has TWO types of noodle and an abundance of meat/ seafood/ miscellaneous ‘seafood sticks’ and vegies.
Honestly, words are a waste of breath, just eat it.
4. Tom Yum, Thailand (for chili lovers)
A Thai and Laotian hot and sour bowl of deliciousness. The joy of this little star of Thai cuisine is in the fragrant ingredients. Lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, fish sauce and chili combine to make a pungent soup with a whole lot of kick. Generally the soup is served with prawns and is traditionally eaten with rice. Add extra chili at your own peril.
5. Wonton noodle, China (for dumpling lovers)
As if noodle soup wasn’t delicious enough, China went and added the other best thing on the planet – wontons (read: dumplings). The wontons steal the show here, the soup is merely a vessel to deliver their deliciousness. Wonton soup comes in many forms, but you can essentially expect a delicate hot broth, traditionally prepared with dried flounder, lots of noodles, some leafy green vegetables, and a whole bunch of sauces, herbs and additions to flavour the soup as you wish. The wontons are filled predominantly with minced prawn and a little pork.
Apparently the trick of this dish is in the way it’s served, the spoon is placed first, then the wontons, then noodles – and lastly the broth. Overcooking the noodles is a travesty – hence the precision.
Inspired to explore the food of the world for yourself? Check out our mouth-watering selection of real food adventures – from Turkey to China and Japan to Spain, we’ve got your cravings covered.
Feature image c/o James, Flickr