Alphabet Soup: The ABCs of soups from around the world  

A standby on Canadian lunch and dinner tables for generations, a steaming bowl of soup is often a go-to comfort food that brings back memories of childhood on cold winter days. But, with variations based on geography and climate, soups are also mainstays in hundreds of cultures and countries around the world, showcasing both unique local ingredients and staples that can be found in almost any North American pantry.

Although most diners and chefs are already familiar with a variety of ethnic soups from a diverse selection of global cuisines, from the ever-popular Italian minestrone to Spanish gazpacho to Szechuan hot and sour soup. But our planet offers an entire alphabet of options when it comes to this perennial mealtime favourite. Here’s our look at what’s cooking in the international world of soup, from hearty Colombian Ajiaco to sour Slavic Zurek.


In Colombia, ajiaco features chicken, potatoes and the galinsoga parviflora herb. The Cuban version is a stew of various meats, vegetables and starchy roots and tubers, while in Peru it is a dish of potatoes with garlic, dried chilies and mint.


Borscht is a traditional sour soup, usually made with beets, and popular in Eastern European countries such as the Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Romania. It is often served with a garnish of sour cream.

Caldo verde

Considered a national dish of Portugal, this soup is traditionally made of potatoes, collard greens, cabbage, kale, onions, garlic and slices of chorizo (sausage).


Also known as daali toy, this is a simple, healthy soup made with split yellow lentils in the Konkan region of India.


Ezogelin soup is common in Turkey and features main ingredients that include bulgur and red lentils. It is usually served with lemon wedges.


A traditional soup served during Holy Week in Ecuador, the main components include figleaf gourd (sambo), pumpkin (zapallo), and several different kinds of beans and grains, together with bacalao (salt cod) cooked in milk. It is generally garnished with hard boiled eggs, fried plantains and herbs.


Originating in the Italian region of Tuscany, ginestrata is a thin, lightly spiced egg-based soup containing egg yolks, chicken stock, Marsala, butter, nutmeg and sugar. It may also include different types of wine and spices such as cinnamon.


A traditional soup of the Maghreb region of northern Africa, harira features lamb, tomatoes, chick peas and lentils, flavoured with spicy harissa sauce. There are many variations and it is mostly served during Ramadan.

Íslensk Kjötsúpa

Also known as Icelandic meat soup, this soup is traditionally made with lamb and a variety of root vegetables. It may also contain onions, leeks and dried herbs.


A mildly spicy soup from the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. Joumou is traditionally made with a base of winter squash (pumpkin) where the squash slices are simmered along with pieces of beef, potato, vegetables and plantains. Thin pasta is also sometimes added.


This is a traditional soup originating in the Samegrelo region of Georgia. It most often features beef, rice, English walnut and cherry plum purée and is usually served with finely chopped fresh coriander.


A spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan cuisine of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Laksa most frequently consists of rice noodles with chicken, prawns or fish, served in a spicy broth made from either coconut milk or sour asam (tamarind or gelugur).


Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup from Myanmar. Often eaten for breakfast, the dish is being consumed more and more throughout the day and most often consists of chickpea and/or rice flour, garlic, onion, lemongrass and ginger and fish cooked in the broth.


A Korean noodle dish consisting of long, thin noodles made from the flour and starch of various ingredients, including buckwheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, arrowroot, and kudzu. Other varieties of naengmyeon are made from ingredients such as seaweed and green tea.


This classic cold soup, originating in Russia, is a mix of raw vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes and spring onions, potatoes, eggs, and a cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausage, or ham with kvass, a low- or non-alcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread.


A traditional soup or stew from Mexico, pozole is made from hominy (coarse ground corn), meat (usually pork) seasoned and garnished with shredded cabbage, chilies, onions, garlic, avocado and salsa or lime. Pozole is often served accompanied by a variety of condiments, including chopped onion, shredded lettuce and tostadas or chicharrones.


A traditional Russian soup consisting of pickled cucumbers, pearl barley and pork or beef kidneys. The key component of rassolnik is the rassol, a liquid created from the juice of pickled cucumbers with various other seasonings.


Also known as Eerwtensoep in the Netherlands, snert is the Dutch version of pea soup. It is a thick stew of green split peas, different cuts of pork, celery root or stalk, onions, leeks, carrots and potato. Slices of smoked sausage (rookworst) are often added before serving.


A fish soup from Indonesia, this dish is comprised of fish cakes made from a dough of fish mixed with tapioca, similar to pempek. The fish cake is then cut into small pieces and placed in shrimp broth and served with rice vermicelli, mushrooms and garnished with celery and green onions.


Ukha is a clear soup from Russia made from various types of fish such as bream, northern pike and wels catfish. It typically contains root vegetables, leeks, potato and herbs and can be spiced with black pepper, nutmeg and saffron.

Vorí vorí

This is a thick, yellow soup from Paraguay containing small balls made of cornmeal, corn flour and cheese.


Originating in the Flanders region of Belgium, waterzooi is a stew dish often made of fish (and occasionally chicken) in a base of cream, egg yolk and thickened vegetable broth. It can also contain celery, onions, celery root, leeks, potatoes and various herbs such as parsley, thyme and sage.


In western Slavic countries, fermented rye or wheat, or sourdough, are used to make a wide variety of soups. Regional variations include Polish barszcz biały, Slovakian kyslóvka, Silesian sauermehlsuppe and Czech kyselo.


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