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November 2015

Winter Soups to Soothe Your Soul from Around the World

Stay warm this winter with these comfort soups from around the world!

Now that autumn is well on its way, the once-sunny days turn chilly and the once-green leaves have long since changed red. Halloween around the world has concluded and we move toward the season belonging to the wintery holidays. And while travel to the tropics may not be an option for everybody, we don’t have to eschew the warmth of summer just yet. Today we’ll take a look at warming comfort soups from around the world that will keep you nice and toasty.

Phở (Vietnam)

The noodle soup known as phở (or more simply, pho) can now be found in many cities around the world. The comforting dish traditionally includes vermicelli (rice) noodles, meats or vegetables, and fragrant spices including Saigon cinnamon, star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove. Bean sprouts and fresh basil are served as garnishes on the side, along with a wedge of lemon that adds some tartness to the slow-simmered broth. Purists may also add a dollop of sriracha, that bright red chili pepper sauce that comes in the rooster-marked bottles. With a mix of savory, spicy, tart, and fresh, this warming concoction adds a hefty punch of flavor to an otherwise cold and somber day.

Gumbo (USA)

Gumbo is perhaps the quintessential dish of New Orleans. It is a thick soup of various ingredients, notably meats, garlic, onions, crushed tomatoes, bell peppers, and okra. It’s a great representative dish of the diverse city, as its influences range from those of American Indian to French to Caribbean cuisine. What makes gumbo particularly special, aside from its rich flavor, is its consistency. A roux is used to thicken the soup, made of browning flour with butter, lard, or oil. This also adds a delicious toastiness to the mix.

Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Scotland)

Cock-a-Leekie soup is Scotland’s national soup. And though it may have a funny name, it's full on flavor. It is exactly as it is called: a chicken and leek soup. It's made even more robust with the addition of barley (or potatoes, if you so choose). Add a bit of celery, fresh thyme, parsley, and black pepper, and you've got a simple yet satisfying soup that's rich on flavor. Originally, the soup also included prunes added during cooking. Many still garnish the soup with thin prune slices today.

Boeuf Bourguignon (France)

Nothing beats the flavor of a slow-cooked boeuf bourguignon when it comes to satiating hunger. The classic stew is made of bacon fat-rendered cubes of beef, mushrooms, pearl onions, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and a healthy dosing of red wine. Garnished with fresh parsley and served with pasta or bread, this soothing food item might be the heartiest item on our list.

Beer Cheese Soup (Germany)

Combining two of the greatest culinary items in history (beer and cheese), beer cheese soup is a quick and satisfying hot item that can be easily served with bread at parties. A simple beer cheese soup can be made with your choice of cheese, celery, your preference of beer (a full-bodied ale for more flavor or a wheat beer for more zing), onions, garlic, carrots, pepper, flour, salt, and chicken stock. Combined slowly and simmered, the result is a smooth and delectable food item that can be used with a variety of dishes.

What is your favorite warm weather food? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more insightful articles on cultures and languages from around the world!

Picture: (c) svariophoto, fotolia