The Essential Types of Soup Every Home Cook Should Know
Venture beyond chicken noodle and tomato with this comprehensive guide to all types of soup.
Minestrone is a classic vegetable soup that you’ll see on the menu at just about any Italian restaurant. Made with seasonal vegetables such as squash, zucchini, potatoes and green beans, minestrone also typically contains tomatoes, cannellini beans, small pasta noodles and tomatoes.
Everyone makes chicken noodle soup a little differently, but the base of most recipes starts with celery, carrots and onions with roasted chicken and egg noodles in a hearty chicken broth. Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme or rosemary and garlic are often added to recipes for extra flavor.
Believe it or not, Italian wedding soup isn’t actually served at weddings. This soup got its name from the Italian phrase minestra maritata (“married soup”) which refers to how the soup perfectly “marries” the flavors of greens and meat together.
Regarded as one of the top comfort foods in the U.S., classic tomato soup begins by blanching tomatoes until soft, removing the skins and then blending them until smooth. Some recipes will also add cream, chunks of cooked tomatoes, and other herbs and spices.
Found all over Boston and on most restaurant menus as the soup du jour on Fridays, New England clam chowder is a cream-based soup containing potatoes, clam broth, cooked clams. It is a close cousin to Manhattan clam chowder, which is made with a tomato-based broth.
Chicken soup refers to not one particular soup, but a whole category of soups (including chicken noodle) made by simmering chicken in water to create a hearty broth. Long regarded as a remedy for cold and flu symptoms, the warm broth of chicken soup recipes from scratch can help break up congestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe sore, aching throats. Because this type of soup is so versatile, you can make chicken soup in a Crock-Pot, Instant Pot or just on the stovetop.
Cioppino is a hearty fish stew that was invented in San Francisco by Italian Immigrants. This soup is made with a variety of seafood, such as crab, clams, shrimp, squid, fish and mussels, in a tomato-based broth. Cioppino is often served with toasted bread in lieu of pasta to help soak up the tasty broth.
This popular type of soup is an update to classic German beer soup. This roux-based, creamy soup is made with beer and lots of melted cheese. Traditional beer soup is often served over stale bread, but this modern version you’ll see served with pretzels, toasted croutons or even seasoned popcorn on top.
Nobody knows who created the first bowl of chicken tortilla soup, but most agree it likely originated in Mexico. Traditionally made of fried corn tortilla pieces in a spicy chicken broth containing tomatoes, garlic, onion and assorted chilies, chicken tortilla soup is often garnished with sour cream, sliced chilies and avocado.
Invented in Paris in the 18th century by simmering caramelized onions in red wine and beef broth, French onion soup is famous for being topped with large croutons, lots of Gruyere cheese and being baked in the oven to gooey, melted perfection.
Manhattan clam chowder is a tomato-based soup containing peppers, celery, carrots and cooked clams. It is a close cousin to New England clam chowder which is made with a cream-based broth. It was invented by Portuguese immigrants who favored tomatoes over milk or cream in their soups and stews.
Not all soups are served hot. Among the most famous of cold soups is gazpacho with is a raw, blended vegetable soup popular throughout Spain and Portugal. Common ingredients in traditional gazpacho include tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, garlic, stale bread, olive oil and wine vinegar.
While some only associate cream of chicken soup with a glob of canned goo, cream of chicken soup is actually much more than that. Homemade versions are made with chicken, carrots, potatoes and cream cheese to make the soup extra thick and creamy.
Barley is often an overlooked grain that’s packed with nutrients and the main ingredient in barley soups. Cooked in beef broth with vegetables like carrots, celery and onions some recipes also add tender pieces of beef stew meat to this grain-rich soup.
This soup is a classic that many seem to forget. It’s a great way to leverage those ham bones carved away from your Christmas ham and use up any leftover meat too. This soup got its name because it was popular on U.S. Navy ships in the early 20th century.
While clam chowder may be king in Boston, corn chowder is beloved by many throughout the country. This thick, cream-based soup substitutes sweet, tender corn kernels for clams and sometimes is made with fresh corn stock made by boiling the corn cobs in water to add extra flavor to the broth.
The bright green color of this soup may be jarring for some, but split pea soup recipes have been served since ancient times by the Greeks and Romans. While fresh peas are often added, the base of this soup is made by boiling dried, split peas (similar to lentils) until tender and then pureeing until smooth.
If noodles aren’t your thing, then try a bowl of chicken and rice soup. Often made with a wild rice blend, the rice adds flavor and a unique texture to the soup. While many chicken and rice soups are made in chicken broth, some add a splash of milk to make a creamy variation of this soup.
No, that isn’t a typo. Pronounced muh-luh-guh-taa-nee, mulligatawny soup originated from southern Indian cuisine and is popular in the U.K. This creamy, curry-based soup is typically made with lentils, tomatoes, apples, coconut and Indian spices like garam masala and ginger. Vegetarian versions are common in India while other recipes add chicken, lamb or mutton.
A bisque is a velvety smooth, creamy and highly seasoned soup that’s French in origin. In most recipes, crustaceans, like crab, shrimp or lobster are boiled to make a flavorful broth and then strained before adding cream and other seasonings. In more traditional recipes, the shells are often ground into a fine paste and added to thicken and flavor the soup further.
Chicken and dumpling soup is a recipe shrouded in debate. Some recipes call for “drop-style” dumplings that resemble biscuits boiled in the soup for a cobbler-like appearance. Other recipes work the dough into a tight roll that’s sliced into noodle-like strips and cooked in the simmering soup. We like our chicken and dumplings either way!
Zuppa Toscana is an Italian potato soup that is found at many American Italian chain restaurants. Most recipes have a creamy base and contain potatoes, Italian sausage and some sort of leafy greens like kale, spinach or escarole. You’ll often see zuppa Toscana garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Hold the noodles. Hold the rice. Hold the dumplings. If you’re trying to watch your carbs but are craving a bowl of chicken soup, this type of soup is for you. Extra vegetables like squash, green beans, kale and tomatoes are added to a classic chicken soup base of chicken, celery, carrots and onions.
If you’re of eastern or central European descent, you may have heard of (or even eaten) borscht before. This soup may be served hot or cold and is made up of mostly beets and often served with sour cream.
A distant French cousin to cioppino, bouillabaisse is a seafood-based soup that typically contains clams, lobster and fish in a fish broth along with vegetables and spices. Purists and advocates of classic French cooking are passionate about the ingredients and method for making this classic Provencal soup.
Also known as Italian ribollita, Bread soup in a dish rooted in medieval history when peasants would add stale bread to leftover vegetable soup for added bulk and heartiness. It’s a use-what-you-have dish that is best prepared over a few days so the flavors of the old and fresh ingredients can really meld together.
Another soup that’s more often used as a casserole ingredient than a soup, homemade cream of mushroom soup is easy and delicious. The best recipes will use a blend of roasted or sauteed wild mushrooms like cremini, porcini and shitake to create layers of earthy flavor. The mushrooms are then cooked with garlic, herbs and onions before being simmered in a mixture of chicken or vegetable broth, heavy cream and sometimes wine.
This cold, pureed soup is “souper” refreshing on a hot summer day. Some recipes call for the cucumbers to be simmered prior to being blended while other recipes skip the cooking step altogether and puree the cucumbers raw with other ingredients before letting the soup chill in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld together. While preparation methods vary, most recipes include yogurt, lemon and herbs like dill or mint.
Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a Vietnamese soup that has risen in popularity in the United States recently. This dish is traditionally made with rice noodles cooked in beef broth with thinly sliced beef but American variants will use other proteins, too. Pho is commonly served with bean sprouts, green onions and fresh herbs.
Creamy, rich and comforting, baked potato soup is simple and versatile. This cream-based soup is made with boiled potatoes as the primary ingredient. Leeks are commonly added to potato soup while other variations will add bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives to mimic the flavors of a loaded baked potato.
This German recipe is an old-world variant of chicken and dumpling soup. The soup gets its name from the special dumplings in this soup, known as knoephla (“neh-fla”). The dumplings are shaped like little knobs or buttons and help thicken the soup into a thick, stew-like consistency.
This dish could be considered a distant cousin to chicken and dumpling soup. Matzo ball soup is made by forming matzo balls out of matzo meal, eggs, water and fat. and then boiling them in a chicken soup. The preparation method of matzo ball soup is overall easy and a popular dish made during Passover in Jewish homes.
This unique soup is popular on Chinese takeout menus in the United States. This soup is made by whisking raw, beaten egg into simmering vegetable or chicken broth. As the eggs are mixed into the broth, the soup thickens slightly and also creates wispy ribbons of cooked egg throughout this mild soup.
African peanut soup is a spicy and creamy type of soup that is found through Western Africa. Traditional recipes almost always begin with a base made from crushed peanuts (or peanut butter), tomatoes and spices. Sweet potatoes and rice are common ingredients in this dish and sometimes chicken is also added.
This spicy, heavily-seasoned Korean soup is made by creating a rich broth using aged kimchi and other Korean flavors like gochugaru and gochujang. Pork belly and tofu are often simmered in the broth along with bok choy, green onions and shiitake mushrooms. What makes kimchi soup unique is that it’s traditionally served community-style from a single pot rather than in individual bowls.
This Italian bean-and-pasta soup is very similar to minestrone but slightly less hearty. The main differences are that minestrone will contain a greater variety and amount of vegetables than pasta e fagioli. Traditional pasta e fagioli only contains garlic, onions and rosemary in addition to the pasta and beans.
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese dish that’s made simply with dashi and miso. Dashi is a Japanese broth and cooking staple made from dried bonito flakes, kelp and anchovy. Meanwhile, miso is a fermented paste created from a mixture of soybeans, sea salt and rice koji. In restaurants, miso soup is often served with small pieces of tofu and seaweed that have been simmered in the broth.