Soup is comfort food that is heart-warming and nostalgic. There are many memories associated with soup, especially those of our mom’s cooking when we’re sick, or just needed something nutritious to go with our meals. A good soup is flavourful, filling and tasty, making it a universal dish that can be personalized however way you want it.
There are many ways you could prepare soup. They can be simple clear broths, or even creamy and rich. Since each one features a unique combination of ingredients, oftentimes a mix of vegetables, meats and spices that are abundant in your hometown, each country has several kinds that they are known for. The Philippines have sinigang—a sour mix made with tamarind, vegetables and protein, while the Vietnamese have pho, and the Japanese miso soup. Even Western countries have chicken noodle soup and clam chowder— nice and warm for the heart and tummy.
As a chef, you can upgrade this comfort food favourite into something much more filling and satisfying by turning them into rice bowls! By taking the elements that make up each soup, and changing it up a bit, you can turn something homemade into something better!
Here are 5 easy recipes that use Asian flavours to get you started:
1. Tom Yum Rice Bowl
Country of Origin: Thailand
Turn this into a creative rice bowl dish by infusing the rice in the sour and spicy flavours that feature a blend of kaffir lime, lemongrass and other spices. You can even dip the prawns in batter and deep fry them before coating the whole thing in a sticky tom yum glaze.
Or to make things healthier, steam the prawns and drizzle the creamy tom yum sauce all over! Don’t forget the veggies on the side for that balanced meal!
2. Sinigang Rice Bowl
Country of Origin: Philippines
Sinigang is a clear soup made with tamarind, and you can turn this into an amazing rice bowl by first cooking everything in the sour broth. Get a portion of that soup and cook your rice in it until it absorbs all the flavours. You can then top it with your meat or seafood, along with vegetables like blanched beans, tomatoes, radish and watercress.
Pro Tip: want to amplify it further? You can reduce the sinigang into a sticky sauce that guests can pour over their rice bowl!
3. Laksa Rice Bowl
Country of Origin: Singapore
You can add a creative spin to this spicy coconut milk-based soup by cooking the rice in the broth until it fully absorbs all the aromatic flavours. Top with shrimp (or chicken even) and your choice of finely chopped spring onions, coriander and chili if you like things hot! Finish it off with a spritz of lime for that acidity that cuts across the richness of the laksa.
Chefs! You can even improve on how to cook laksa by serving the dish with crispy rice topped with chicken or shrimp and fresh coriander. Serve the reduced laksa sauce on the side that they can pour over everything for that delightful mix of crunchy and soft rice.
4. Miso Ramen Rice Bowl
Country of Origin: Japan
Ramen is a Japanese classic that has started to become popular among millennials. It’s a warm and satisfying bowl of noodles, meat and soup that is perfect on cold or rainy days. Take the flavourful bone broth—your choice of chicken, pork or beef— and cook it with rice until it fully infuses the flavours. Add thin slices of char siu meat, seaweed and that much-loved ramen egg on top of the rice and garnish with spring onions. Want to improve on how to cook Japanese egg? Try poaching it instead and carefully put it on top. Guests can cut into it so the yolk spill over everything like liquid gold.
5. Kimchi-guk Rice Bowl
Country of Origin: Korea
With fermented ingredients becoming popular for their health benefits, you can serve a kimchi rice bowl in your restaurant. Just cook rice in the spicy, bright red broth, add some finely chopped kimchi in it. To make the dish more filling, you can even add diced ham in it—just like a fried rice dish. Place diced tofu, fishcakes, and different mushrooms on top before finishing it off with finely-chopped leeks.
Prop Tip: You can even use risotto instead of rice as a twist! Top with cheese and bake everything to create a steaming casserole that’s perfect for cold and rainy days.
Create new dishes using soup as your inspiration for great meals that will make guests come back for more. Start out with familiar homemade classics and work your way from there!