Soup is a staple element of cuisines all across Asia. From Myanmar to Vietnam,
soups are eaten for breakfast, with lunch and are accompanied by almost all
main meal. They run through the scale from spicy and intense to fragrant and
mild. This amazing dish is filled with almost everything, from long rice noodles
to generous chunks of beef. They can be pure vegetarian or meat heavy with
almost all kind of edible flesh. Asian soups are traditionally prepared and served
in the many cultures of Asia.
In Asian cuisine, soups are usually based solely on broths and lacks dairy
products such as milk or cream. They consist of starches from corns or sweet
potatoes as thickening agents. Since there are an endless variety, trying for a
precise classification is meaningless. But, based on the elementary tastes, soups
can be categorized as sour or sweet. The quality of a savory soup is determined
by its fragrance and umami or “Xian” flavor, while sweet soups are enjoyed for
their aroma, mouth feel and after taste. Many Asian soups are eaten and drunk
as much for their flavor as for their health benefits and are touted for their
refreshing effects. Here we introduce five such amazing Asian soups which
guaranty an elegant experience for your taste buds.
Tom yum also pronounced as Tom Yam is a hot and sour Thai soup, which is
usually cooked with shrimp as the main ingredient. The name “Tom Yum” refers to
two similar soups originated from Lao and Thailand and is also widely consumed
in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and
The Royal Lao versions of Tom yum contain a pinch of rice in the soup, whereas
other typical Laotian and Thai version doesn’t include rice as an ingredient. This
classic Thai soup is popular for its unique hot and sour flavors. The broth is rich
with fragrant spices and fresh herbs. Basic ingredients of the broth are stock,
fresh herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, chili
peppers and fish sauce.
Tom yum soup is also made using many other meat varieties other than shrimp.
The Tom yum soup which uses shrimp is called Tom yum goong or Tom yum
Kung, soup using chicken is Tom yum kai, fish – Tom yum pla and soup with
mixed seafood are called Tom yum thale. The veg version of Tom yum uses
the mushroom (straw mushrooms or oyster mushrooms) as a staple ingredient. Soup
is often topped with generous amount of chopped coriander leaves which
provides a rather refreshing edge for the dish.
Originated in the northern China, wonton is considered as an important part of
traditional Chinese cuisine. This is a clear and tasty soup which contains
dumpling as staple ingredients and broth enriched with fresh herbs and spices.
The soup is a beautiful combination of many flavors. Each region of China has its
own variations of wonton. Beijing, Sichuan, Hubei, jiangnan are some examples.
Dumplings are the staple element of wonton soups. These are fillings wrapped in
a thin sheet of dough. Fillings consist of thinly chopped meat (pork, chicken,
beef, fish or any combination of these) along with other fresh ingredients like
chopped ginger, green onion, salt, chicken essence etc. The fillings wrap is then
cooked in water and is later added to the broth. Dumplings of different size and
shape are used in wonton soups; the most versatile shape is a simple right
triangle. Broth include ingredients like chopped green onion, sesame oil, dried
shrimps, chicken essence and also salt for seasoning.
Laksa is a popular spicy noodle which has its origin in Malaysia. This soup
belongs to the Peranakan cuisine, which was developed from the early Chinese
migrants who settled south east regions of Asia such as Penang, Malacca,
Singapore Malaysia and Indonesia. Laksa contain noodles or vermicelli with
chicken, prawn or fish, served in a spicy hot broth. The soup is little thick,
fragrant, fishy and a bit spicy, the richness of coconut milk topped with ever
classic Laksa toppings make this dish a must – try at least once in your life.
Rice noodles or vermicelli is the staple ingredient of Laksa. The broth consists of
coconut milk as base and is enriched by ingredients like chicken stock, dried
shrimp, and lemon juice. Fresh lemon grass, chilies, shallots, galanga, turmeric
and spices are grinded and added and cooked to make the broth. This together
with coconut milk gives the broth a thick consistency. There are three basic types
of laksa – Curry laksa, Asam laksa and other variant that can be identified as
either curry or asam laksa.
In Indonesia and other South East Asian countries, Laska is one of the traditional
comfort foods. The spicy warm coconut noodle soup is much enjoyed during
cold rainy days.
Pho is a noodle soup of Vietnamese origin. The soup consists of rich noodles
called banh pho, broth, some herbs and meat, primarily made with beef or
chicken. This is a popular street food in Vietnam. Originated from the Northern
Vietnam, Pho was later popularized to the rest of the Asia by refugees of the
The soup is usually served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in a
clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef. Chicken pho is made using the same
spices as beef pho, but the broth is made using chicken bones and meat. Also
some internal organs of the chicken such as heart, gizzard and undeveloped eggs
are added in the broth for extra flavors. Spices like Saigon cinnamon, star anise,
roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed etc.
are cooked along with the meat to make the broth. Vietnamese dishes are often
served along with lot of herbs and vegetables, and Pho is not an exception. The
spicy hot soup is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions,
basils, bean sprouts and cilantro.
Bakso (also pronounced as baso ) is a delicious Indonesian meatball soup, which
has meatball as the staple ingredient of the dish. The origin of the dish is
believed to be in Indonesia, while the meatball is inspired from the Chinese
cuisine. Bakso can be found all across Indonesia; from the street vendors to the
star hotels, the dish is one of the most wanted meal in the country.
The meat ball is commonly made from grounded beef along with small quantity
of tapioca flour and salt. Other meat varieties such as chicken, pork, fish and
shrimp are also used. A consistent firm, dense, homogeneous texture due to the
polymerization of myosin makes Bakso distinct from other meatball based
Bakso is usually served in a bowl of beef broth along with yellow noodles, bihun
(rice vermicelli), salted vegies, tofu, egg, Chinese green cabbage, bean sprout,
siomay (Steamed meat dumpling) and crisp wonton. The bowl is then sprinkled
with fried shallots and celery.
The Asian soups mentioned above are five of the most popular dishes originated
and thrived in the vast Asian continent. They are rich in every aspect and will be
a rather amazing experience for your taste buds. So next time you browse
through an Asian menu, look for these five amazing soups.