Soup Recipes

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Restorative Ginger-and-Turmeric Noodle Soup

Growing up, my Chinese mother devoutly served tong (soup) every night; it was an ever-changing concoction formulated to treat whatever “afflictions” she believed were ailing her family. These ailments weren’t necessarily sicknesses—sometimes just minor complaints such as a sniffle, a cough, a headache. The prime tenet of Chinese medicine is to restore the balance of yin (cool) and yang (hot). Having a cold signified too much yin in our bodies, so my mother would prescribe a soup to restore the yang forces. Her healing soups usually contained a mélange of meat, vegetables, fruits, ginger, ginseng, gingko nuts, goji berries, jujube dates, and more. They were often sweet, sometimes pleasingly savory, and at other times, intensely bitter. As a child, my mother would bribe me to drink bitter soup by offering me a small piece of candy with each sip; needless to say, it took me a long time to drink that particular elixir. Nowadays, the principles of Chinese medicine remain strong in my life. When I’m feeling poorly, ginger is my go-to. Ginger is a yang food and is thought to aid digestion and restore balance in the body. I love to steep freshly sliced ginger in hot water for a quick pick-me-up or add copious amounts to my everyday foods. A bowl of ginger fried rice is as delicious as it is restorative. During the winter months, this bowl of noodle soup is like a hug. The garlic oil adds an extra layer of aromatic flavor, a great way to bring cohesiveness to this curative bowl of soup. It’s bolstered by a robust ginger and turmeric base, which offers deep, earthy flavors along with anti-inflammatory prowess. That ginger-and-turmeric curry paste is vibrant in both color and flavor and is a great recipe to add to your repertoire; I like to think of it as my “universal curry paste,” as it can be used in so many tasty ways in addition to this soup. Whisk a tablespoon or two into eggs before scrambling, stir into Greek salad to make a memorable salad dressing, or use as the base for a Thai-style curry, chickpea stew, or a fragrant lentil soup. The paste can also be frozen, so make a double or triple batch to ensure that you always have some on hand for a quick meal.
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Korean Rice Cake Soup

When I was a kid growing up in Mississippi, our New Year’s celebrations were based on the food traditions of the American South—stewed collard greens, black-eyed peas simmered with hog jowls, and a pan of crusty cornbread for good measure. Later in adulthood, as I discovered more about my mother’s Korean culture, I learned about Lunar New Year, which this year falls on January 25. For millions of people around the world, and especially in east Asia, it’s a day spent with family, where members pay homage to their ancestors. And the star of the celebration for Korean families, food-wise, is the rice cake soup. Tteokguk (pronounced sort of like DUK-gook) is a soup of chewy-soft rice cakes cooked in steaming translucent broth. And, just like American New Year’s foods, it’s a good-luck dish that carries symbolic significance. The white color of the rice cakes signifies purity, so the soup represents a way to start the year off fresh. And traditionally, when you enjoy your New Year’s bowl of rice cake soup, your age increases by one year. Though the soup can be made with chicken, pork, pheasant, or seafood, these days it’s typically made with beef. My version starts by simmering chunks of beef brisket in a combination of store-bought beef stock (to give the broth a head start on flavor) and water, along with onion and garlic. After a couple of hours, the brisket is perfectly chewy-tender—meaning that you can shred it, but it retains some bite. This meat is seasoned with raw garlic and sesame oil and becomes a hearty garnish for the top of the soup. The broth is then seasoned with one of my new favorite Korean ingredients: soup soy sauce (guk-ganjang). It’s a byproduct of making doenjang, a fermented soybean paste that’s similar to miso, and it’s lighter in color and much saltier than regular soy sauce, with funky fermented notes. A small amount will season a whole pot of soup without turning it too dark. You’ll need to visit a good Asian market to find it, and it will keep indefinitely; you can use it for flavoring vegetables and stir-fries as well as soup. And, if you can’t find it or don’t want to have a bottle in your pantry, you can substitute fish sauce. The soul of the soup, of course, is the rice cakes—flat, oval discs with an irresistibly chewy texture and mild rice flavor. You’ll find these in Asian markets, too, typically in the refrigerated section or sometimes in the freezer case. I always try to seek out a brand that’s made with just rice and salt; many options contain ethyl alcohol, which I think gives the soup an unpleasant aftertaste. And just like those American New Year’s dishes, rice cake soup is simply too good to eat only one day of the year. It’s great any time, but especially on a chilly night when you crave a piping-hot bowl of brothy soup with alluring textures and rich, soulful flavors.
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Herbed Lemongrass Broth with Shrimp

The citrusy flavor of lemongrass is an ideal brothy base for shrimp, while the earthiness of spinach and mushrooms makes the entire dish feel super wholesome. This recipe makes enough for two people to reset and restore, but it can easily be doubled to serve four.
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Orzo and Chickpeas with Turmeric-Ginger Broth

Coconut milk and fresh lime juice are natural flavor partners to ginger and turmeric; here they come together to form a restorative tea-based broth that’s delicious studded with chickpeas and pasta.
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"Everybody" Potato-Leek Soup

You can serve this soup so many different ways: with a dollop of crème fraîche and smoked salmon, topped with roasted broccoli florets and shredded cheddar cheese, or simply plain, as it has a mellow, delicious flavor on its own. Left as a chunky-style soup, it eats like a chowder, while the pureed version has a silky and light texture rich enough to be served chilled, if desired. Read Emily Nunn's essay 'Everybody Soup' Has Something for Everyone.
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Hot Pot Broth

Infusing chicken stock with fresh herbs and aromatics, as well as classic condiments like hot chile-sesame oil and chile bean sauce, quickly adds layers of flavor. Keep the additional salt light—the broth will become saltier as you cook ingredients in it. Use this broth for our Steak-and-Shrimp Hot Pot recipe.
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More Soup

Loaded Potato Soup

Bring this rich and luscious potato soup to the table and let kids and guests build their own delicious bowls with crispy potato peels, cheddar cheese, scallions, and more for a comforting meal. Double up and make an extra batch to keep in the freezer for rainy nights or to nourish a sick friend. Leftovers hold up well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; reheat gently over medium heat.
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Lentil Velouté with Cabbage and Toasted Brioche

Whipped cream flavored with coffee brings an unexpected but welcome layer of earthiness to this creamy lentil soup. Crispy bacon and mushrooms, plus a slice of toasted brioche, will transport you to the bistros of Bordeaux. Gently cooking the lentils just past tender and then giving them a quick puree in the blender yields a silky consistency—no strainer required.