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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Global Noodles for a Delicious World Pasta Day

Since the 12th century, Italians have been feasting on an addictive amalgamation of flour, eggs, and water, also known as pasta. Though Americans often associate pasta with Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and ravioli, there are, in fact, dozens of cultures around the globe whose staple foods include noodles, many of which are made of rice, buckwheat, potato starch, or kelp in place of flour, in a plethora of shapes and sizes. On this momentous day, then, we thought it only apropos to round up some of our favorite global noodles for a delicious World Pasta Day – each of which you can find right here in the states.

Vietnamese Vermicelli
Though it looks like its sister noodle, spaghetti, vermicelli is the Asian equivalent, made from rice flour and water (called rice vermicelli) or mung bean starch (known as cellophane noodles). In Vietnam, rice vermicelli finds its way into many signature dishes; it’s in pho (noodle soup), gets tucked into summer rolls, and is the main event in other noodle-based plates, called bún. Surprisingly, you can find all three in Atlanta at chef-owner Guy Wong’s gorgeous French-Vietnamese hotspot Le Fat. Though the summer rolls are fresh and vibrant and the pho earthy and satisfying, we recommend the bún, in which the rice noodles are topped with an aromatic herb salad, pickled daikon, crushed peanuts, and crispy grilled pork.

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Thai Pad Thai
Here in America, there’s perhaps no dish more closely associated with Thailand than Pad Thai, stir-fried rice noodles. Though the dish is often watered down to appease our penchant for sugar, the traditional version is made with soaked dried rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and tofu (or often prawns), topped with roasted peanuts and bathed in a tangy sauce made from tamarind (never ketchup or peanut butter), fish sauce, dried shrimp, chiles, and palm sugar. For the real deal, head to none other than Bida Manda in Raleigh, North Carolina, where chef Van Nolintha serves up a Laotian version of pad thai made with crispy tofu, tomatoes, rice noodles, and plenty of crunchy peanuts and aromatic herbs.

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Japanese Soba
In Japan, the name of the pasta game is soba, a thin noodle made from buckwheat flour that’s eaten near daily, whether chilled with a dipping sauce, enjoyed in hot soy-dashi broth as a noodle soup, and even grilled in a stir-fried dish known as yakisoba. Boston chef Tim Cushman hand-makes two different varieties of soba noodles at his award-winning o ya restaurant — squid ink soba alongside seared octopus and bonito, pictured, (he also serves a chilled squid ink soba dish in an uni consommé) and chilled soba noodles topped with uni, fresh wasabi, and a rich dashi broth.

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Top Vancouver Restaurants for Medal-Worthy Meals

Top-Vancouver-Restaurants-for-Medal-Worthy-MealsHeading to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics? Get a competitive advantage over your fellow foodies with the scoop on 10 top restaurants serving meals as memorable as the games.

1. Araxi. Araxi has been satisfying Whistler diners for nearly two decades, but the name may be familiar to fans of Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” Featured on the fiery show, Dave Levey, the winning contestant, is now cooking behind the line under the expert tutelage of James Walt. Forget the fanfare, though, and go for the farm-fresh, seasonal food, their impressive wine cellar, and the stellar service.

2. Bearfoot Bistro: Known among foodies far and wide for it’s regional and seasonal menu, the Bearfoot Bistro boasts a Champagne bar with a frozen ice rail and live piano music as well as an award-winning chef. Melissa Craig is renowned for her New Canadian cuisine, served up in a romantic setting. Watch for unique ingredients: Caribou, anyone?

3. Bishop’s: Fresh seafood and local meats keep locals coming back to Bishop’s in Kitsilano regularly – as do the staff. Owner John Bishop and maitre d’ Abel Jacinto are known for their hospitality while executive chef Andrea Carlson brings her love of gardening into the restaurant’s kitchen with sustainable foods. Try the Yukon Gold potato soup to warm you up and whet your appetite.

4. The Cannery Seafood House. An institution of the Vancouver dining scene since 1971, The Cannery is set to close on March 27, 2010 – forever. Don’t miss your last chance to sample the delicious dishes at this scenic stand-by that’s situated in the Port of Vancouver. Come for the amazing sunsets and stay for the ocean-friendly seafood and deep discounts on wines of all prices from the restaurant’s impressive cellar.

5. db Bistro Moderne. Restaurateur/renowned chef Daniel Boulud brings his brand of casual culinary magic northwest from New York to Kitsilano. Traditional bistro fare, such as coq au vin, populates the menu alongside locally inspired dishes. Don’t miss the famous db Burger (sirloin filled with braised short ribs and black truffle).

6. Five Sails. Operated by husband and wife team of Chef Ernst Dorfler and Gerry Sayers, Five Sails has a view to kill for and cuisine to match it. A favorite of OpenTable diners, the restaurant is very vegetarian-friendly, but you’ll also find plenty of meat dishes, including fallow deer, on the menu.

7. Lumiere. Another restaurant with Daniel Boulud’s imprimatur on it, Lumiere literally has something for everyone. Upscale sister to db Bistro Moderne (which is adjacent to Lumiere), Lumiere has a variety of menus to please varying palates and wallets, from small plates and a seasonal prix-fixe for just $65 to vegetarian tasting menu and a specially created grand tasting experience. Lumiere seats just 45, so reserve early.

8. Maenam. Maenam boasts a terrific Thai menu and a pedigreed chef, Angus An, who worked with and was inspired by David Thompson, the renowned chef of Nahm in London, the only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in the world. Authentic dishes, such as stir-fried halibut cheeks, are served up in a casual setting with prices that won’t break the bank.

9. Market by Jean-Georges. Jean-Georges brings contemporary American cuisine to Vancouver. The restaurant itself is as dimensional as its menu, with an intimate and approachable café with a fireplace, a heated outdoor seasonal terrace with city views, a welcoming bar, and a sophisticated fine-dining room. Choose your own culinary adventure, starting with which section you dine in and whether you order from the raw menu, small plates, or sumptuous main dishes.

10. Rimrock Café. Two fireplaces set the mood at this cozy yet upscale Whistler restaurant. A favorite of locals, Rimrock’s menu features oysters served seven different ways, seafood specialties, and buffalo, caribou, and venison entrees. The wine program is paramount to Rimrock’s success. Oenophiles will enjoy the can’t-miss lit cellar that holds more than 320 labels from around the world.