Our 16 winter soup recipes from around the world include warming winter soups from Asia to Europe, Africa to Latin America – everything from a creamy Singapore curry laksa and comforting Russian borscht to a hearty Moroccan chickpea soup and spicy Mexican tortilla soup.
We’ve compiled this selection of our best winter soup recipes from around the world for our readers in the southern hemisphere who are approaching winter, and we especially had our family and friends in mind in Australia and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, where the weather is starting to getting chilly.
Aside from the fact that there are few more comforting things in life than soup, if you’re in lockdown, self-isolating or staying at home and quarantine cooking – that is, stretching out meals to prolong the periods between anxiety inducing supermarket trips – then soups are what you need.
These 16 warming winter soups can also transport you to warmer climates if you let them… close your eyes as you slurp the spicy coconut-based curry chicken soup from Chiang Mai or the creamy sour and sweet pineapple and pork soup from Cambodia, and imagine yourself exploring aromatic markets or scrambling temples.
Soups also mean easy winter dinners. Most of these broths are a cinch to make. Sure, some can take time if you’re making a stock from scratch, and there might be a bit of prep if you’re cooking a Southeast Asian soup that requires you to prepare a spice paste, but, hey, a bit of pounding in the old mortar and pestle will warm you up.
Winter Soup Recipes from Around the World – Warming Winter Broths from Asia to Africa
You can spread soups out over a few meals or make a bit pot of stock and freeze what you don’t need in smaller batches for different soups. Fill the pantry with a few types of dried noodles and cans of chick peas, tomatoes, and coconut milk, and you’re set.
If you really want a distraction to get you through weeks of self-isolating at home, then there’s nothing like working your way through a list of cooking projects, so don’t just choose one of our winter soups, make all of our best winter soup recipes from around the world. And for more winter dinner ideas, do browse our Recipes archive or use the search box to find what you’re looking for…
Winter Soup Recipes from Around the World
Our best winter soup recipes from around the world for warming winter dinners. Click on the photo for the full recipe.
Baboushka’s Russian-Ukrainian Borscht Recipe
This Russian borscht recipe makes the home-cooked soup of my childhood that my baboushka used to make and it’s my favourite winter soup recipe and possibly my favourite of all my Russian recipes. The Russian-Ukrainian beetroot-driven vegetable soup is served with sour cream and fresh dill and is a filling meal in itself. We’d eat it for lunch or dinner the first night then breakfast the next day. Whenever I cook this, the aromas fill the apartment and I’m immediately taken back to my childhood. I like to think of it as Russia’s soup for the soul. Borscht has a special place in the hearts, minds and stomachs of anyone of Russian or Ukrainian heritage who grew up dunking weighty slices of black rye bread into their baboushka’s broth. Try this and you’ll understand why.
Moroccan Chickpea Soup Recipe
This authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is easily one of the best winter soup recipes and this warming winter soup is one made for the pandemic – because we all have cans of chickpeas in our kitchen pantries now, right? One of our favourite chickpea soups, Terence was taught to make this by Jamila, the cook at our riad Dar Rocmarra in Marrakech in Morocco, where we spent two weeks on the round the world trip that launched Grantourismo a decade ago, and he hasn’t adjusted a single thing since. It makes a comforting soup that is perfect for a cold winter’s night. We recommend serving it with some flatbread or chunky slices of toasted sourdough bread.
Sweet Corn Soup With Ginger, Turmeric and Chilli Recipe
This recipe for sweet corn soup with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and chilli oil was concocted by Terence in our Siem Reap kitchen in northern Cambodia and it’s another of the best winter soup recipes you can make, especially if you’re under the weather. It was partly inspired by the ingredients in our crisper – ginger, turmeric, garlic, galangal – as much as memories of the Chinese restaurant dinners of our childhoods growing up in Australia in the 1970s. While Terence recalls Chinese egg drop soup, I remember the sweet corn soup with crab. Aussies have been eating Chinese food and using Asian ingredients since Australia was colonised. Ginger arrived in 1778 and an 1825 newspaper ad attests to Sydney’s shops being stocked with “fish sauce, mustard, currie powder, cayenne pepper – spices of all kinds, and ginger…”, so these soups are what we’d make even if we didn’t live in Southeast Asia.
Cambodian Chicken Soup with Pickled Limes
Our Cambodian chicken soup with pickled limes recipe makes sngor ngam ngov, a slightly sweet, slightly sour, citrus-driven soup brimming with succulent chicken and aromatics such as lemongrass and coriander. Easy to make, it’s a nourishing soup that’s one of the best winter soup recipes you can make. The bowl should brim with pieces of tender fall-off-the-bone chicken, fragrant from the lime you roasted them in and aromatics such as lemongrass and coriander that swim in this healthy soup. In many ways this is Cambodia’s chicken soup for the soul and of Cambodia’s countless soups there are few more comforting. While I have demonstrated that I can polish off a pot of the stuff on my own, this is a soup made for these uncertain times and is a soup that should be shared.
Russian Cabbage Soup Recipe for Shchi
This Russian cabbage soup recipe makes shchi, perhaps the most Russian of soups. If my baboushka wasn’t making borscht, she was cooking a big pot of shchi. Long eaten by nobles and peasants alike, the rich included meat in their shchi, while the poor made a vegetarian soup, shchi vegetarianskiye. Skip the sour cream (not something I could do!) and you have a vegan shchi recipe. While the origin of borscht is much-contested and claimed by the Ukrainians, shchi is resolutely Russian and so beloved by Russians that the Moscow Times called it a “national treasure”. This old soup dates to the 9th century, when cabbage arrived in ‘the Land of the Rus’ from Byzantium. My version is incredibly hearty and is easily another of the best winter soup recipes for warming up on a cold night.
Classic Cambodian Kuy Teav Recipe
There are few more warming winter soups than a big bowl of kuy teav. Our classic Cambodian kuy teav recipe makes the chicken version of Cambodia’s popular breakfast noodle soup called kuy teav sach moan – ‘sach moan’ is chicken meat in Khmer. This recipe makes the more restrained style that you’d typically find in a simple local eatery or market or street food stall in Cambodia. A good clear flavourful stock is the hallmark of this soup rather than a bowl abundant with ingredients. You’ll also find a range of condiments on the table, such as fish sauce, soy sauce, chilli sauce, chilli flakes, along with limes, aromatic herbs such as basil, coriander, mint, fish leaf, etc, blanched bean sprouts, and finely sliced birds-eye chillies. I love to add a spoon of this homemade chilli oil, which will warm you right up.
Chiang Mai Khao Soi Gai Recipe
Here in Southeast Asia it’s believed that spicy soups should be eaten on hot days as they make you sweat and that perspiration cools your body down, but we reckon there’s nothing better than a rich, spicy soup for a winter dinner as after the spice quickly warms you up. This khao soi gai recipe from Chiang Mai makes a coconut based chicken curry noodle soup soup that travellers to the Northern Thai city would be familiar with, and it’s another one of our best winter soup recipes. Thailand’s former Lanna kingdom capital is home to Northern Thai-style Lanna food and khao soi gai is its most famous dish, consisting of a leg or thigh of bone-in chicken (chicken is ‘gai’ in Thai) and egg noodles in a coconut cream-based stock, sprinkled with crunchy noodles.
Singapore Curry Laksa Recipe
Terence has been making Singapore curry laksa since we first started slurping the spicy coconut curry noodle soup in Sydney in the 1980s, at a massively popular ‘Singapore Curry Laksa’ stall in subterranean food court in Chinatown food court. We’d often meet after work and before we headed to evening uni classes, so big bowls of laksa served as our dinner on many a cold winter’s night, making this another of our best winter soup recipes. While Terence has long been obsessed with recreating that original noodle soup we adored (he has 10 different curry laksa recipes in his recipe manager!) this recipe comes courtesy of legendary Sydney chef, Christine Manfield. Don’t be deterred by the list of 17 ingredients. The final result is well worth the effort of pounding your own curry paste from scratch.
Cambodian Samlor Machou Kroeung Sach Ko Recipe
Samlor can mean either soup or stew in the Khmer language of Cambodia and locals will often make a heartier stew-like soup the first day and then add water the next day to stretch it out, especially in the countryside. This samlor machou kroeung sach ko makes a fantastic green vegetable-driven sour beef soup with morning glory recipe that is easily one of the best winter soup recipes for a cold winter’s meal. Most people throw all the chopped morning glory into their soup pot but I blend half the leaves and stems for a thicker soup. Morning glory (Ipomoea aquatic) is also called river spinach, water spinach, Chinese spinach, and Chinese watercress. It’s very nutritious and is a great source of vitamins (C and E), minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium), so it’s fantastic for winter. If you’re vegetarian, use a vegetable stock, leave out the beef, and replace with more veggies.
Lao Khao Soi Recipe
If you love ragu Bolognese then you are going to love this recipe for Lao khao soi, which is easily one of our best winter soup recipes. Made with wide rice noodles that are topped with a generous dollop of a rich tomato-based pork mince sauce that is reminiscent of Italy’s ragu Bolognese, it’s filling and comforting in the same way. This is another recipe that Terence has been perfecting for years, since our first trip to Luang Prabang, Laos, when we became smitten with this dish after our guide Bounmee pointed us to a simple noodle stall in a corrugated iron shed that he claimed dished up the best Lao khao soi in town. Do as the locals do and serve with plenty of fresh greens on the side – crispy beans, fragrant mint and basil, lime halves – and condiments, such as dried chilli flakes, fish sauce, and chilli sauce.
Cambodian Samlor Machou Ktis Recipe
This recipe for a Cambodian samlor machou ktis, a sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk, is another of our best winter soup recipes. It make a versatile soup that can be served as a thick hearty stew that’s veering toward curry territory or can be thinned out to a lighter broth to stretch out if you have a family or spread out over a couple of days. Remember ‘samlor’ can mean soup or stew, so that’s okay. When I’m making it for winter, I recommend opting for a thicker soup – just keep reducing it – and when I’m making it in hotter weather (which is most of the time here in Siem Reap!) I will thin in out. While it comes from a family of Cambodian sour soups, it’s actually a balanced broth with the sweetness of the coconut milk and pineapple offsetting the tanginess of the tamarind.
Burmese Ohn No Khao Swe Recipe
This Burmese ohn no khao swe recipe makes Myanmar’s much loved chicken coconut noodle soup, which is another one of our best winter soup recipes. A bowl of ohn no khao swe brims with egg noodles in a perfumed curry chicken soup with a coconut milk base that is garnished with boiled eggs, crunchy fried noodles, shallots, fried garlic, dried chilli flakes, lime, and coriander (cilantro). It’s the country’s most popular soup, alongside mohinga, and is another dish that Terence has been making since our first trip to Myanmar when we savoured it at Yangon’s grand old hotel, The Strand. This is a great dish for winter dinners with the family or a group of friends because, as Mi Mi Khaing, author of Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way (1978), wrote, garnishing your ohn no khao swe is one of the most fun parts of eating this soup, which she described as being festive when she was growing up.
Indonesian Soto Ayam Recipe
In Indonesia, ‘soto’ means soup and ‘ayam’ is chicken and there’s said to be a soto ayam recipe for every region, city, town, and village on Indonesia’s 18,307 islands. But one thing the locals agree on is that soto ayam is Indonesia’s chicken noodle soup for the soul. Terence’s soto ayam recipe is another of our best winter soup recipes, in the style of the delicious bowls of soto ayam we slurped in Yogyakarta, the old capital of East Java. We’d gone to visit stupendous Prambanan and Borobudur temples but also fell in love with the fantastic street food. Normally eaten as a breakfast soup, there’s no reason why you can’t slurp a bowl of this on a cold winter’s day or night for lunch or dinner. Recommended for its restorative properties (namely turmeric) soto ayam is perfect if you’re suffering from a winter’s cold or flu.
Cambodian Samlor Korko Recipe
This samlor korko recipe makes what Cambodians call a ‘stirring pot soup’ because, packed with vegetables and featuring two of Cambodia’s most quintessential ingredients, prahok, a fermented fish paste, and kroeung, the herb and spice paste that is the basis of so many Cambodian dishes, it requires a lot of stirring. It may not be so pretty to look at, but delicious, hearty and healthy, it makes for one of the best winter soup recipes. While you should easily be able to make your own kroeung, finding prahok can be so tricky outside Cambodia that many chefs with Cambodian heritage will make their own. Try an Asian supermarket or phone your nearest Cambodian restaurant and ask where they go their prahok or if they’d sell you some. If you can’t get hold of any, try a little fish sauce or shrimp paste, depending on your preference.
Montenegro Riblja Čorba Recipe
We were taught to make this recipe for riblja corba fish soup, another of one of our best winter soup recipes, at Cesarica restaurant in the Old Town of Kotor, Montenegro by chef Rino Janovic, a fisherman and sea captain in a town where “everyone has some kind of an association with the sea here and they all know how to fish,” according to Rino. The chef’s family’s seafaring traditions go back several generations. This fish soup is on many menus but Cesarica’s riblja corba was sublime. Rino’s recipe was handed down through his family for generations. The fish is cooked whole in the pot, then the pieces are removed, deboned, and returned to the soup. In Kotor, where the chef uses a variety of fish to give the soup a really full flavour, his favourites are mullet and sea bass.
Mexican Sopa de Tortilla Recipe
Lastly, this spicy Mexican sopa de tortilla or tortilla soup recipe is undoubtedly one of our best winter soup recipes. We’ve been making this soup forever. Terence began cooking up this wonderful warming Mexican soup after our first trip to Mexico City in the Nineties. He tweaked it a little after a class with the lovely Marilau at her excellent cooking school in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where we spent two weeks on the grand tour of the world that launched Grantourismo. Terence combined a few tips from Marilau’s recipe with his old recipe – we actually prefer a spicier tortilla soup to Marilau, so Terence added additional Ancho chiles to his recipe, but if you don’t like spicy food, you could leave those out. Although there are few better things than chillies to warm you up on a cold winter’s night.
Do let us know if you make any of our warming winter soup recipes – we’d love to hear from you and find out how they turned out for you.