National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day: Comfort in a Bowl Around the Globe

It’s no secret chicken soup is good for the soul. The nourishing broth, nutrient-dense veggies, and hearty noodles always do a body good, particularly at this time of year when cold and flu season is ramping up. So in honor of National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, we’re putting a fun twist on the expressive holiday and rounding up five kinds of chicken soup from around the world, upping the ante on canned Campbell’s — you can even find these soulful soups right here in the States.

Japanese Ramen
When most people think of ramen, their minds drift toward the cheap packets they ate during their college dorm days — or, if they’ve experienced authentic Japanese ramen, then likely to steaming bowls of noodle soup spiked with tender pork. But there’s also a version that relies on chicken stock—it’s called shio and shoyu ramen. And one of the best spots to try this curative soup is in Decatur, Georgia, at Makan, where the miso-based broth is simmered overnight for maximum depth of flavor. Each bowl is laced with Sun Noodles and topped with a soft poached egg, roasted pork belly, and seasonal vegetables.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Jewish Matzo Ball Soup
Though not technically from one specific country, the Jewish culture relies on restorative matzo ball soup around the world particularly on Passover or when a hint of a cold comes on (see penicillin, Jewish). Their version is a light chicken broth peppered with dumplings (they’re made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water and fat) and often veggies, such as onions, carrots, and celery. In San Francisco, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen simmers their broth for 12 hours with thyme, browned onions, vegetables, and chicken bones, adding schmaltz’d up matzo balls at service.

National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Thai Khao Soi
In Northern Thailand, street vendors throughout the region dish out a Burmese-influenced chicken soup called Khao Soi around every corner. The coconut curry-esque base (it’s similar in flavor to yellow or massaman curry) is brimming with fresh chicken, boiled egg noodles, pickled veggies, and shallots, and it is finished with crispy fried egg noodles, lime juice, and ground chiles. Head to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, New York, where James Beard Award winner Andy Ricker serves an authentic Khao Soi made with a from-scratch curry paste and house-pressed fresh coconut milk, alongside chicken, house-pickled mustard greens, and roasted chili paste.

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Chill Out: Seven Cold Summer Soups to Order Now

Soup that isn’t served hot can be a real drag. Unless, of course, it’s cold soup, in which case it is a delightfully refreshing blast of flavor on a hot summer’s day. Here are seven cold summer soups to order now — and the restaurants at which to do so. 

Ajo Blanco
Sometimes referred to as “white gazpacho,” ajo blanco is a subtle Spanish summer delicacy made from ground almonds, garlic, bread, and olive oil for a smooth and cool texture on the tongue. A specialty of the Andalusian region of Spain, you’ll find it at your better tapas restaurants and Spanish wine bars. It is a real hit when it’s on the menu at at Jaleo by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. Give yourself extra points for consuming the superfood that is almonds. [Photo courtesy of Jaleo by José Andrés]

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Borsch, or borscht, the storied beet soup of Eastern Europe can be served either hot or cold. A staple in New York’s Jewish community, it inspired the colloquial name of the old resort region in upstate New York: the “Borscht Belt.” But you don’t have to go to the Catskills to enjoy a good bowl of this purple pleasure. If you find yourself in San Francisco, schlep on over to the Inner Richmond district for a sanguine supper at Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant. Just be sure not to wear white unless your spooning skills are top notch. [Photo courtesy of Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant]

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Chilled Asparagus Soup
Cold soup, it turns out, can be made from just about any vegetable or fruit, offering a wide array of flavors and textures. Carrots lend their natural sweetness and pair well with fresh herbs, grated ginger, turmeric, and more subtle spices. Leeks bring fragrance to the bland creaminess of potatoes. Avocados, asparagus, fennel — all of these can take the main stage in a sublime cold soup when they are seasonably plentiful. These days, you’ll be able to find a great selection of freshly made soups made with everything from artichokes to zebra squash. At Pub & Kitchen in Philadelphia’s Center City, chef Eli Collins is dazzling diners with a lovely chilled asparagus soup featuring rhubarb, queso fresco, and almonds. [Photo courtesy of Pub & Kitchen]

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Korean Cold Noodle Soup
My completely unanticipated passion for cold soups began at a Korean-Chinese hole-in-the-wall somewhere in northern China where my host ordered us each a bowl of Korean Cold Noodle Soup (naengmyun). A full meal in itself, the large stainless steel bowl was filled with toothy noodles in an icy-cold, sweet, spicy, and tangy beef broth that I can still taste in my mind today. It was topped with an Asian pear, cucumbers, and more sliced beef. I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since. Stateside, Seorabol Korean Restaurant in Philadelphia makes their cold buckwheat noodles by hand in the traditional way. “This is the way Koreans have made and eaten naengmyun for centuries and we plan to keep that tradition and culture alive, even when it is not convenient,” says Seorabol’s chef Chris Cho. Seorabol offers two variations of the dish: bibim naengmyun (spicy mix), pictured, and mool naengmyun (in cold beef broth). Both are guaranteed to delight. [Photo courtesy of Seorabol]

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20 Raves for Gazpacho 20 Ways: Trending on Restaurant Reviews

gazpacho-blogGazpacho is almost as much fun to say as it is to eat. Almost. While scores of foodies adore traditional tangy gazpacho, chefs are thinking outside the red tomato and letting other fruits and vegetables be the stars. This chilled soup, which is positively synonymous with summer, is being prepared with ingredients from cucumbers to watermelon — and everything in between. Check out what diners are saying about gazpacho served 20 different ways, in recent OpenTable restaurant reviews. 

Artichoke, Albuquerque, New Mexico: “The yellow tomato gazpacho was garlicky and good.”

Atchafalaya, New Orleans, Louisiana: “The soup of the day was to die for — watermelon-tomatillo gazpacho. It was absolutely wonderful.”

Bartlett Pear Inn, Easton, Maryland: “The food was amazing! Starting with a mango-honey dew gazpacho…mmmm!”

Bishop’s, Vancouver, British Columbia: “Delicious creamy gazpacho from sungold tomatoes with a spoonful of fennel sorbet and poached prawns was amazing!”

Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouri: “The gazpacho martini is the single most delish cocktail I’ve ever imbibed.”

Charley G’s Seafood Grill, Lafeyette, Louisiana: “My wife got the watermelon gazpacho soup with lump crab meat which was out of this world.”

Chef and the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina: “I highly recommend the sungold tomato and peach gazpacho. What an exciting surprise offering a delectable variety of tastes.”

Coohills, Denver, Colorado: “The green tomato gazpacho was not your run-of the-mill soup but a medley of great flavors.”

Dovetail, New York, New York: “The melon gazpacho for a first course on a warm summer day was refreshing and wonderfully flavored.”

* Gotham Bar and Grill, New York, New York: “I had the very best gazpacho of my life next. I didn’t want to finish it because I didn’t want the amazing blend of compressed yellow peppers, watermelon, cucumber, garlic, strawberry, and tomato to end!”

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Trending on OpenTable Recent Restaurant Reviews: Sweet Peas

Pea soup is super, but there are dozens of ways chefs are showcasing this short-lived springtime delight.

Sweet peas are a sure sign of spring. Largely intolerant of temperatures higher than seventy degrees, sweet, or garden, peas tend to leave town as soon as high summer arrives in many growing climates. So, the time is ripe to eat these emerald gems — and chefs are serving them up in truly inventive ways. Pea soup is a staple of the season’s menus — and thank goodness because we LOVE pea soup — but there are hundreds of other ways to sample one of spring’s most beloved treats. Peas are rich in folic acid (a must for expectant moms), and they’re a good source of vitamins A and C. Find out how what your fellow OpenTable diners are saying about sweet peas in recent restaurant reviews!

A Voce Columbus, New York, New York: “The real standout for me was the pea and mascarpone ravioli. It was finished with breadcrumbs and cheese and was true comfort food without being heavy.”

ABC Cocina, New York, New York: “Everything was excellent. The pea guacamole, the prawns with bananas and almonds, short rib, and fish tacos.”

Agrodolce, Seattle, Washington: “Maria Hines does something with peas that no one else ever does with peas, so whenever peas are on the menu, we order them.”

Beast and Bottle, Denver, Colorado: “The pea soufflé is absolutely divine!”

Birdhouse on Hennepin, Minneapolis, Minnesota: “The pea paté and the deviled eggs were really good as starters.”

The Dandelion, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “Particularly good was the spring pea soup. I’m not ordinarly a pea soup fan, but I could make a meal out of this stuff.”

Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada: “The English pea soup was out of this world.”

Etch, Nashville, Tennessee: “The truffled pea pesto was AMAZING.”

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