This local daily quintessential staple across Vietnam comprises of rice noodles in a piping hot flavoursome crystal clear broth with tender slices of chicken or beef and garnished with fresh herbs and condiments like chilli sauce, lime and hoisin. Interestingly the word pho really denotes the noodles, not the soup itself. Pho is all about making your own separate comforting bowl of goodness, the tough work of steaming broth taken care of while you get the exciting, aromatic job of tearing herbs and sprinkling crunchy sprouts and enjoying it. Pho 2000 in Ho Chi Minh City makes the most perfect pho in Vietnam and even Bill Clinton endorses it.
AZERBAIJANI MEATBALL SOUP
Locally this soup is known as Kuftebozbash, or more commonly just kufte, the Azerbaijani word for meatball, derivative from the Persian koftan, which means to pound. Huge meatballs prepared in a humble broth with chickpeas and potatoes. The meatballs are formed by pounding the meat to integrate it with supplementary ingredients, then moulded into meatballs, small or big. Each meatball is filled with a small dried sour plum.
Though famed as Goulash across the world, the Hungarians call it gulyas. This rich hearty crimson soup is more like a stew made vegetables and meat, liberally seasoned with paprika. Although beef is the common meat used, pork or chicken can be used too. The thumb rule is the use of sweet sharp fresh paprika as the key seasoning spice. Getto Gulyas in the Jewish quarter of Budapest is the go to place for Goulash. Goulash is best devoured with country side bread.
THAI TOM YUM
Tom translates into boil in Thai, and yum to spicy salad, which inimitably denotes to Thai cuisine from the Central Plains where there is abundance of Kung which refers to prawns and shrimps.This spicy sour clear soup is redolent with lemon grass, kafir lime leaf and galangal with fish sauce for depth and palm sugar for that perfect balance.
SAN FRANCISCO CLAM CHOWDER
Most original recipes are still passed on in the family and are served all over the city, principally in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood. San Francisco is the city that initiated the trend for clam chowder to be served in a sourdough bread bowl. Interestingly there are two kinds, Manhattan and New England. The former is thick, creambased soup and typically includes onions, potatoes, and clams.The Latter is a red broth made from clams, vegetables and tomatoes, which augments its flavour.The best bowl of New England Chowder is hands down at the Boudin Bakery in Fisherman’s wharf.
– Rupali Dean is a food writer based out of Delhi