Get cozy this fall with these seven soup recipes from chefs around the world, from Ireland and Morocco to New Orleans.
It’s finally the season where staying indoors feels warm and fuzzy instead of, you know, a little too close for comfort. In fact, curling up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of soup is such a quintessentially fall pastime—up there with Harry Potter marathons and kicking the leaves around—that it’s almost easy to forget ever being forced to stay inside. But why warm up a can of soup when you can craft your own from scratch?
With a chill now in the air, we asked chefs from New Orleans to Vietnam to share soup recipes that warm their bellies and their souls. They handed down childhood stews that harken back to cozy days in grandma’s kitchen and shared memories found at the bottom of a bowl.
1. Vietnamese Bún Bò
Summer Le, Chef and Owner of Nén Restaurant in Da Nang, Vietnam
“This is a recipe for bún bò, an umami, flavorful noodle soup full of lemongrass infusion. When people talk about Vietnamese noodle soup, they think of pho, but pho is actually not popular where I grew up. In its place is bún bò, and I am basically addicted.
The soup is packed with intense flavors, but at the same time it feels very lean, sharp, and light without ever being fatty or heavy. As “bún” stands for the rice vermicelli and “bò” stands for beef, this noodle soup is served with an array of beef cuts which can be brisket, tail, tongue, etc. There are also options for a piece of pig’s leg or crab meatballs, and an assortment of herbs and greens freshen up the bowl of noodles. You can even push the flavor further with condiments like pickled shallots, papaya, carrots, and chili sauce. All together, it’s a bomb of taste and texture.”
How to make bún bò
For the broth
- 2.2 lbs beef or pork bones
- 2.2 lbs beef shank or brisket
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp rock sugar
- 1 yellow onion, peeled
- 6 stalks lemongrass, bruised
For the soup
- 2.2 lbs dried, thick, round rice vermicelli (normally labeled as bún bò huế)
- Chopped spring onion, cilantro, and onion to garnish
- Place the beef/pork bones in a stockpot filled with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the impurities rise to the top. Dump out the whole pot and rinse the bones well. Wash the pot clean.
- Return the bones to the pot and fill with 5 liters of water. Add the beef shank or brisket.
- Smash the lemongrass with a pestle or a knife handle to release the fragrance. Tie up the stalks and add to the stockpot. Also add the peeled yellow onion, 1 tbsp salt, and 1 tbsp rock sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium and simmer uncovered for one hour. Occasionally skim off the excess.
- When the beef shank or brisket is fully cooked, remove the meat and soak in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to prevent it from turning dark. Then drain, let cool, and slice thinly into bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, continue to simmer the bones for 1-2 more hours. If you cook the stock for more than 2 hours, add the bruised lemongrass only in the last hour.
- Season the stock to your taste with salt and chicken powder.
- Cook the rice vermicelli following package instructions. Then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove the outside starch. Rinse again under hot water (this helps the noodles to dry faster and become fluffier rather than stick to each other and turn lumpy).
Place a handful of the rice vermicelli in a serving bowl. Top with the sliced beef. You can also add boiled blood cubes (huyet), Vietnamese shrimp patties (chả huế), or Vietnamese ham (chả lụa) if available. Ladle the broth over the noodles and garnish with the chopped spring onion, cilantro, and paper-thin sliced onion.
2. Peruvian Quinoa Soup
Nacho Selis, Executive Chef and Cooking Instructor at The Table Less Traveled, from Urubamba, Peru
“This delicious (and nutritious) quinoa soup is a cozy fall dish with ancient Incan roots. An Andean grain grown at more than 380 meters above sea level, quinoa has been used in Peruvian cuisine for centuries, since it was first cultivated by the Incas. Quinoa’s ability to flourish high in the Andes was not the only draw for the ancient inhabitants of the region—its rich variety of nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and amino acids made it a staple in the Incan diet. Cooking with quinoa represents a tie to the land where I live and is a nostalgic reminder of my childhood—my grandmother used the grain almost daily.”
How to make Peruvian quinoa soup
Ingredients (serves two)
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed when raw
- 1L vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of chopped garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup queso fresco (if unavailable, ricotta or feta is a good replacement)
- Cilantro, chopped
- A few stalks of parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
For the vegetable stock:
- Heat a pan over high heat with a little oil.
- Cut your vegetables into big chunks. Add half of each of the onion, zucchini, celery, and carrot and add to the pan. Cook until browned, and add half of the chopped garlic.
- Add 1 liter of water and cover. Let simmer.
- Add bay leaf and stems of chopped parsley.
For the quinoa base:
- Add a small amount of vegetable or olive oil to a soup pot over medium heat.
- Toss in the remainder of the sliced onions and chopped garlic. Then, stir in the quinoa, mixing frequently as you add other ingredients below.
- Add the remainder of the carrots, celery, and zucchini. Peel and chop the tomato and add it to the pot. Stir frequently and add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the broth and base:
Strain the vegetable broth into the quinoa base and stir. Then add the cubed cheese and mix into the soup. Separately, beat two eggs in a bowl then mix them into the soup. Stir in the evaporated milk and add salt to taste. Finally, chop some cilantro and stir it into the soup.
3. Canary Island Caldo
“One of my favorite winter dishes growing up was my Nana’s vegetable soup. She called it vegetable soup, and it definitely had all sorts of vegetables, but it also had deliciously tender morsels of chuck roast. It was perfectly satisfying on a cold winter day. Then when I traveled to the Canary Islands a few years ago, the first dish my host family served me was the national dish of the islands, called caldo, and it was oddly familiar. It was my Nana’s vegetable soup, but with tender goat meat as a substitute for the chuck roast. You see, Canary Islanders (or “Isleños”) once settled in four areas in Louisiana—the longest-enduring of which is St. Bernard. And while their cuisine has much in common with Cajun cooking, which draws common ingredients from the same region, a few distinct dishes with roots in the Canary Islands are still served today.
I now make my own version of this soup for my kids. I can only hope that as they grow up and start to travel the world, and that one of the dishes I cook for them creates an impression on them as strong as my Nana’s ‘vegetable’ soup did me.”
How to make Canary Island Caldo
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 ½ lbs pork butt, cubed
- 1 ½ lbs beef chuck roast, cubed
- 2 cups garbanzo beans, soaked overnight in water
- 3 cups mustard greens, chopped
- 3 cups green cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup whole canned tomatoes, diced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
- 1 yellow potato, peeled and diced small
- 1 turnip, peeled and diced small
- 1 ½ gal chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Fresh mint to garnish
- Olive oil
- In a large saucepot over moderate heat, begin cooking the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrot, and garlic with just a splash of olive oil.
- Cook the vegetables for several minutes or until they become slightly translucent before adding the pork and chuck roast.
- Cover the ingredients with chicken stock and season with bay leaves, paprika, cayenne pepper, allspice, and saffron.
- Allow the broth to come to a boil over high heat before reducing heat to a gentle simmer.
- Add the mustard greens, garbanzo beans, potatoes, turnip, and tomatoes and simmer until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh mint.
4. Irish Leek, Potato, and Oyster Soup
Danni Barry, Development Chef for Ward and Co Fine Foods in Stranmillis, Belfast
“A good, hearty soup is a very popular dish to eat in Ireland. Our sometimes cold and rainy weather welcomes the warming nourishment of a steaming bowl of goodness. Traditional vegetable soup is a real staple of an Irish kitchen—it comes packed with root vegetables (perhaps pulled from the garden), barley, and potatoes, and finished with robust curly parsley and sometimes even a drizzle of cream. I chose a soup that shows off some of the best produce local to where I live. World-class oysters and a pinch of dulse seaweed add a briny umami flavor and a touch of luxury to a very simple leek and potato soup.”
How to Make Irish Leek and Potato Soup with Carlingford Oyster
- 2 leeks, finely sliced with green and white separated
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 4 Comber potatoes, very finely sliced (a mandolin is best)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 8oz double cream
- 3 tbps butter
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped chives
- 1 cup dried dulse seaweed
- 4 oysters, removed from shell, juice kept
- In a soup pan, melt the butter and sweat down the onion, garlic, and white of the leek with a pinch of salt and thyme.
- Once the above ingredients are translucent and soft, add the potatoes and stir.
- Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a separate pot, then add the boiling stock to the soup pan.
- Bring to the boil. Add the green of the leek and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the herbs and leave for 3 minutes. Afterward, remove from heat and transfer to a blender. While blending, add the dried dulse seaweed and the juice from the oysters
- Warm the soup with the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Distribute the oysters in the serving bowls and pour the soup over the top. Garnish with some of the fresh herbs.
5. Moroccan Harira Frik Soup
Hanane Ouaddahou, Chef and Founder of Hanouna’s Taste in Morocco and Dubai
“The harira is a symbol of the fasting break during the month of Ramadan. All the streets in Morocco smell of celery and a mix of spices. It always takes me back to my father visiting me when I was studying in Paris. I was preparing this soup, and I’ll always remember my dad telling me that the smell reminds him of my mum’s food back in Morocco. This pushed me to follow my passion for food and work hard to become a TV chef and food consultant a few years later.”
How to make Moroccan harira frik soup
Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
- 7 oz lamb or beef cubes
- 14 oz tomatoes, pureed and strained
- 1 cup of dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and peeled
- 1 cup of dry lentils, washed
- 2 celery stalks, very finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of coriander, very finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of parsley, very finely chopped
- 2 medium onions, grated or finely chopped
- 1 tsp smen or ghee
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 cube of beef bouillon
- 4 tsp tomato paste
- ½ cup frik or vermicelli noodles
- 150 g flour
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 2 liters water
- Salt to taste
- Put the meat, tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, celery, onion, tomato paste, and half of the coriander and parsley into a pressure cooker or normal soup pot.
- Over medium heat, stir all the ingredients and add spices and 1 cup of water.
- Add the remainder of the water, then cover and let cook for 30-45 minutes or until the lentils and chickpeas are tender and the meat is cooked through.
- While the harira is cooking, make a tedouira (soup thickener) by mixing together the flour with 2 cups of water and lemon. Set the mixture aside, stirring or whisking occasionally.
- Pass the tedouira through a sieve to remove any clumps, then add it into the broth and stir constantly.
- Lower the heat and add the rest of coriander, parsley, and frik or vermicelli to the mixture, stirring constantly.
- Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the skin formed on top of the soup almost disappears.
6. Mexican Sopa de Milpa Verde
Claudio Hall, Consultant Chef formerly of Fonda el Refugio in Mexico City
“The sopa de milpa verde was one of the staples in my grandmother’s famed restaurant Fonda el Refugio in Mexico City. A personal favorite of mine due to its subtle yet complex flavor balance, it uses some of the core Mexican ingredients grown on traditional pre-Columbian vegetable patches (milpas) combined with a few basic European cooking techniques. This amalgam of cultures is what makes Mexicans such an amazing group of people, and it is reflected in every aspect of their identity.”
How to make Mexican Maize Field Soup
Ingredients (serves 6)
- ½ lb green bell pepper
- ¼ lb poblano pepper
- 2 oz white corn kernels (if not readily available, substitute with cooked white hominy)
- 1 oz white onion
- 1 ½ oz butter
- 1 ½ oz white flour
- 1 qt chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- 2 ½ oz corn tortilla squares (approx. ½ inch in size)
- 3 ½ oz cubed queso fresco (approx. ½ inch in size)
- Clean, devein, and deseed the peppers, then wash and cube them into pieces. Boil the peppers in 3 qts of water until they soften. If you can’t find poblano peppers, just substitute with more bell pepper.
- In a separate soup pot, boil the corn kernels in 1 qt of water for about 10 minutes.
- Drain the peppers and puree them in a blender. Add the puree into the soup pot with the cooked and drained corn.
- Chop the onion and saute in the butter until translucent. Add the flour and whisk into a roux, then add 1 cup of the chicken broth. Add this mixture, along with the remaining chicken broth, into the soup pot. Allow this to boil for a few minutes.
- Add salt and seasoning to taste. Serve hot, garnishing with cubed cheese and lightly fried tortilla squares.
7. French Nettle Soup
Bruce and Sara Naftaly, Chefs and Owners of Marmite in Seattle
“Nettle soup is not only a good representative of our culinary ethos (classic and heartfelt French cooking using local, organic/wild, and foraged ingredients in season), but this dish has a romantic association for us as our first date was picking wild stinging nettles! Nettles are usually one of the first green edibles up in the spring and make a delicious beginning to the culinary year following the long, cold, dark winter (or, in this case, a good hearty soup to carry you through the cold!). Just a warning: Do not handle stinging nettles with bare hands. Use tongs or wear gloves. They are fun to pick in the wild, but recently they’ve been showing up at more upscale grocery stores.
How to make French nettle soup
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 2 shallots, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 leek white, washed and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 lb unsalted butter
- 1 medium (about 8oz) Yukon Gold or similar potato, cut into small pieces
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock
- 3/4 lb fresh wild stinging nettles (the top 4” or so of the plant- just the tender top leaves)
- 1 oz fresh cilantro
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- Sea salt to taste
- Creme fraiche for garnish
- In a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum saucepan, melt the unsalted butter and cook the onion, shallot, and leek over low heat until translucent and “relaxed.” Try not to brown.
- Add the chicken stock and potato and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is soft.
- Bring to a boil. Then, add the nettles and cilantro and simmer until the nettles are cooked, but not overcooked (about 8 minutes). (Note: The sting of the nettles is caused by acid on the little hairs on the leaves, but this acid breaks down and becomes harmless with the application of heat in cooking. You want them to be a nice, fresh green color, not an overcooked khaki. The cilantro is a “secret ingredient” that compliments the fresh nettle flavor, while the potato adds a creamy texture.)
- Purée the soup in a blender. Return to pot. Add nutmeg and salt to taste. Serve garnished with a small dollop of creme fraiche.