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5 Hearty international soups to keep you warm in winter

BY Paola Westbeek

13th Dec 2022 Food Heroes

5 Hearty international soups to keep you warm in winter

These winter soup recipes from around the world contain just enough spice and smoky notes to keep you warm through the cold months

What could be more comforting on a cold and blustery day than settling down with a steaming bowl of soup?

Hearty, fragrant and chock full of healthy vegetables or warming spices, soup is the ultimate food for the winter season.

Its restorative properties make it an excellent choice for those days when you’re feeling under the weather. It’s no wonder that chicken soup is touted as a great remedy for colds.

If chicken soup sounds a bit too boring, however, here are five international soups that will transport your taste buds to different corners of the world, from a robust Dutch erwtensoep to an aromatic Thai tom kha kai.

All of these soups can be made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for three to five days. Make a big batch on Sunday, and you’ll have a quick and healthy lunch ready for the week ahead.

They can also be frozen in single-serving containers. No need to thaw the soup—simply heat over a low fire, stirring frequently, and serve piping hot.


Erwtensoep soup with smoked sausages and winter vegetablesTraditionally, the sausage in erwtensoep should be smoked using oak or beech wood

Colloquially referred to as “snert”, this stick-to-the-ribs soup is made with split peas, celeriac, leeks, potatoes, fatty pork (ribs, chops or a slab of bacon) and rookworst (smoked sausage).

It is traditionally served with a slice of rye bread topped with smoked bacon and should be so thick that a spoon can stand upright in it.

It is believed that the original recipe dates back to the 16th century, though Dutch cookbooks first made mention of the soup in the 18th century.

"It is believed that the original recipe dates back to the 16th century"

De Volmaakte Geldersche Keuken-meyd (The Ultimate Gelderland Kitchen Maid), published in 1756, tells us that erwtensoep was only made during November (the butchering month).

It describes exactly how the sausage should be smoked using oak or beech wood, either by the fireplace or in special smoking rooms.

Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde traditional Portuguese soup with greens and chopped chorizoCaldo verde combines a savoury green broth with the dark, rich taste of chouriço (similar to chorizo)

This hearty, rustic soup is one of Portugal’s most beloved national dishes. In fact, it was voted as “one of the seven wonders of Portuguese cuisine”

Served everywhere, from the countryside to the poshest of restaurants, it was originally an ancient peasant dish hailing from the Minho province in the northeast.

Caldo verde (the name literally means “green broth”) consists of couve-galega (Portuguese cabbage), potatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, chicken stock and chouriço (Portuguese sausage, similar to Spanish chorizo, but darker and spicier).

Kale or even cavolo nero can be used to replace the traditional cabbage.

Bear in mind that this soup tastes better the day after it’s made.

Potage parmentier

Bowl of cold creamy Vichyssoise soupVichyssoise soup is the cold cousin of potage parmentier

Named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, the French military pharmacist who fervently promoted the consumption of potatoes in the late 18th century, potage parmentier is made with potatoes, leeks, chicken stock and single cream.

There are plenty of variations to the soup. Some cooks prefer to use water instead of broth, others opt for milk or crème fraîche instead of single cream, and some like to crown their soup with croutons, ham or even shavings of black truffle.

"Some like to crown their soup with croutons, ham or even shavings of black truffle"

It’s interesting to note that crème vichyssoise is the soup’s cold cousin.

Though its name sounds utterly French, the soup was actually invented in 1917 in the United States at the Ritz-Carlton in Manhattan by French chef cuisinier, Louis Diat.

He based the soup on the potage parmentier of his youth and served it chilled on a hot summer’s day. As a child, he would often cool his soup with a splash of cold milk, leading him to discover that he liked it better that way.

He named the soup after the city of Vichy, not far from his native Montmarault.

Whether you serve it cold in summer (and call it vichyssoise) or hot in winter (and call it potage parmentier), this is an extremely velvety and comforting soup either way.

Tom kha kai

Tom Kha Thai soup made with prawns, peppers and kaleGalangal, one of the key ingredients in tom kha kai, is known to reduce inflammation

Two of the most important ingredients in this fragrant and creamy soup—one of Thailand’s most iconic national dishes—are chicken (“kai” in Thai) and galangal (“kha”).

Similar in appearance to ginger, but more citrusy and fresher in taste, galangal is especially popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, and used in everything from curries to soups, and even teas.

The spice is known to reduce inflammation and help fight off infections, making this soup not only tasty, but also quite healing.

Other ingredients used in the soup are lemongrass, red chillies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce (or soy sauce), mushrooms, coriander and coconut milk.

In tom kha kai, the flavours should be well balanced and the spiciness not too overpowering.

Moroccan harira

Moroccan Harira soup made with chickpeas, lemons and lentilsHarira soup is a hearty meal that Muslims eat during Ramadan

Consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, parsley, coriander, vermicelli, legumes (chickpeas, lentils), aromatic spices (cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger) and often meat (lamb, beef or chicken), harira is thick soup.

"It is especially popular during Ramadan, when it is eaten to break the fast"

It is especially popular during Ramadan, when it is eaten to break the fast, along with other traditional fare such as dates and chebakia (honey and sesame flower-shaped cookies).

Though making harira will involve a lot of chopping and a long cooking time (one to two hours), your efforts will certainly be rewarded—harira is one of the heartiest and most nutritious soups.

Find more international soups to make today with International Soups Recipes: Best World Soups Recipes, available on Amazon.

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