Top 10 Best Asian Soups You Must Try
There is nothing better than a bowl of warm, comforting soup. It is a staple element of cuisines all across Asia. From Iran to Japan, soups are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually many soups constitute the main dish – they are so filling and satisfying that they are not served as starters only. They run through the scale from burning hot, though to spicy and intense to fragrant and mild.
Asian soups can comprise almost everything: long rice noodles, yellow egg pasta, beans, various vegetables and chunks of meat. You might find chicken feet as well! They can be pure vegetarian or meat heavy with almost all kind of edible flesh. But they have one thing in common – they are all mouthwatering!
Soups in Asia are inexpensive and widely available – two factors that also make them an ideal option for a starving traveler on a budget!!!
Here are top 10 delicious Asian soups which guaranty a pleasing experience for your taste buds.
1. Laksa – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand
Laksa is a spicy noodle soup popular in Peranakan cuisine that originated from the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago including British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore).
Laksa contains noodles or vermicelli with the addition of chicken, beef, meatballs, prawn or fish, served in a spicy hot broth. It is a little bit thick, fragrant, fishy and slightly spicy. The richness of coconut milk is mixed with fresh lemongrass, chilis, shallots, galanga, turmeric and spices that are ground and added to the broth. The soup is complemented with various toppings such a wedge of lime, omelet strips, peeled boiled prawns, freshly chopped coriander leaves, bean sprouts and fried tofu.
2. Pho – Vietnam
This rice vermicelli soup pho is a staple all over Vietnam but similar soups (Kuai Tiao in Thailand, Nom Banh Chok in Cambodia, Khao Piak Sen in Laos) are widely available in the region of Southeast Asia. A spicy beef version of Pho is the specialty of Hanoi. It is often eaten for breakfast but it is served all day long. It is a perfect meal and an invigorating way to start the day.
Pho is really all about the broth. True pho broth is a long-simmered affair, combining chicken or beef bones (or both!) with aromatic herbs and vegetables like onions, garlic, and ginger to make a deeply rich and savory infusion.
3. Khao Soi Gai – Thailand
This is the real deal. Rich, creamy, and packed with uncompromising flavors this coconut-y curry broth is served with boiled and fried noodle, pickles, fresh red onion, chilis, bean sprouts as well as meat insert – chicken being the most common.
This noodle soup is so rich and filling that it is usually served as a main dish. There are no two identical Khao Soi as the recipes vary and I have seen all range of colors of this soup – from Bahama yellow to ruby red. Khao Soi comes from the North of Thailand and it is sometimes called Chiang Mai curried noodle soup.
4. Ramen – Japan
Ramen is a noodle soup dish that was originally imported from China in the late 19th century and has become one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Nearly every region has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido. Ramen restaurants, or ramen-ya, can be found in virtually every corner of the country.
Ramen is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as large brown algae seaweeds called kelps, skipjack tuna flakes, dried baby sardines, beef bones, pork bones, shiitake mushrooms, and onions. Some modern Ramen broths can also be vegetable based. That is a lot of ingredients just to cook broth!
Ramen noodles come in various shapes and lengths. They may be thick, thin, or even ribbon-like, as well as straight or wrinkled.
5. Wonton Soup – China
Originated in the northern China, wonton is considered as an important part of traditional Chinese cuisine. This clear and tasty soup contains dumplings as a staple ingredient added to a broth enriched with fresh herbs and spices. It is often consumed with red vinegar. The broth is made from boiling shrimp shells, pork bones and dried flounder to give it a distinct taste. It might not sound appetizing but it is delicious!
6. Khorake Loobia Sabz – Iran
Is a stew a type of soup? Typically a stew is any dish that’s prepared by stewing – that is, the food is barely covered with liquid and simmered for a long time in a covered pot. Since water plays an integral part in the preparation process let’s consider it a soup as well.
In Persian cuisine, there are plenty of dishes with beans and one of the most popular ones is Khorake Loobia Sabz or green bean stew. This “soup” is made with a mixture of beef, green beans, potatoes, carrots, onions and tomato paste. It can certainly serve as a main dish as it is extremely filling and satisfying – also because delicious Iranian bread is always served on the side.
7. Tom Yum – Laos and Thailand also Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar
This soup gives you a taste of Southeast Asia thanks to the generous use of fragrant herbs. Lemongrass (very strong), lime leaves, galangal, and shallots provide the memorable smells, with chilies and fish sauce providing the kick. Substance comes in the form of jumbo shrimp and mushrooms. The flavor is a unique combination of spicy hot and sour – it serves as a starter or when paired with rice – a filling main dish. You can easily replace shrimps with chicken or mushrooms if you are not a seafood lover.
8. Nine-Bean Soup – Kawatee, Nepal
Another “controversial” soup as it is so thick that you can stick your spoon upright in it. It is known to be a healthy food and it is eaten during the harsh winters to warm you up and protect your body. It is said that it cures colds, coughs and is one of the best foods for women during their maternity leave. Since it contains varieties of beans, this recipe is loaded with proteins and thus helps weak/sick people to regain their energy.
Kawatee is normally a mix of 9 beans namely, black eye peas, cowpeas, black lentils, chickpeas, adzuki, soybeans, mung dal, green peas, and favas. With beans, people also include meat as well but many prefer the vegetarian version.
9. Bakso – Indonesia
This savory meatball noodle soup gained international fame when former U.S. President Barack Obama recalled it as one of his favorite dishes from the time he lived in Indonesia.
Bakso takes on many forms, it can be springy or rubbery; the size of golf balls or bigger; made from chicken, beef, pork or some amorphous combination of them all. It comes garnished with fried shallots, boiled egg and wontons. It is very popular among students as it is both cheap and delicious.
10. Miso – Japan
No soup is quicker to prepare than miso. It is very simple yet a very delicious and flavorful soup packed with Umami. There are just few ingredients required: “Dashi” stock, miso paste, and fragrant garnish called “Suikuchi”. Just whisk miso paste into the water and voila!! By adding shrimp, tofu and greens, the amount of miso can double and can constitute a light meal.
Miso soup is one of the two basic soup types of Japanese cuisine – the other one is suimono.