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All hail the soup


Image credits: Ella Olsson

Here’s some soup for thought: have you ever had a poor experience with tasting soup before? Well, I have. Some time ago, my mother let me try her Broccoli Cheddar soup, and it disturbed me terribly. I had always been fond of soups, and I had never thought that the moment I tasted a poor soup would be something I’d have to experience in my long, youthful, life. But alas, that soup tasted like I had been craving nachos, but there were no chips for me to use as a dip, so I resorted to broccoli instead. Genuinely, it was horrendous.


Another time, I also had an incredibly unenjoyable soup. I was at the Garden of Olive’s (Olive Garden, for those confused), and though I usually stick to my usual carb-filled meal of bread and pasta, skipping over the soup and salad completely, my sister offered me some of her Zuppa Toscana, a creamy soup filled with sausage, bacon, potatoes, garlic, and kale. I was excited, truthfully, because I’m a huge fan of foods filled with garlic and potatoes, despite my doctor-ordered FODMAPS diet telling me otherwise. So I had a sip, and to my surprise, I was once again disturbed. Since when did soup get so bad? No offense to those who rally for the Zuppa Toscana, but it really isn’t my cup of tea, or should I say, my bowl of soup.


Recently, though, after a concert, my friends and I stumbled tiredly into the god-tier location of any soup to ever soup: BCD Tofu House. Now here, at BCD Tofu House, a Korean chain restaurant that prides itself on being the original Soon Tofu restaurant (soon tofu being a Korean stew dish), you’ll find only but the best quality of stew here. My personal favorite, the Kimchi Soon Tofu, will replenish me after one bite. You know, it was 1:24 in the morning, my energy was drained, my stomach yearning for the taste of fuel, and all that was laid out in front of me was a spoonful of rice and a bowl of soup. I gently placed the spoon in the bowl, allowing the rice grains to absorb the hot, rich broth. The spoon guides itself to my mouth, and after one bit, I’m in heaven. All faith in soup is restored. This beautiful stew alone had overrun all my previous sad experiences with soup. And I know, semantics, soup and stew aren’t exactly the same, but for everyone’s sake, let’s use them synonymously. And with my renewed love of soup, I’m here to give you some soup for thought. Soup from all around the world can be accessible to you, on your plate, in your stomach, and then out to the sewers. Let’s start with my highly praised lover, Kimchi Soon Tofu. 


My parents are as picky, to say the least—that, or not experimental in any way of the world. So I grew up eating a limited variety of food, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I took matters into my own hands and sought out foods from all around the world. My first introduction to foods outside my culture was a Korean meal called Gimbap. It’s a street food that’s typically served to kids still in school. Now one bite of this and it was over for me. The flavor explosion in my mouth was incredible, something new and fresh. But I wouldn’t call this my favorite Korean food. If it were up to me, I’d marry Kimchi Soon Tofu, but I can’t, so I’ll express my love by simply saying it is my favorite Korean cuisine. According to WordPress, this dish is still relatively new, created in the 1990s by Korean entrepreneur Hee Sook Lee. Tofu stew, or sundubu, has existed historically since the Joseon dynasty. If I haven’t convinced you enough, I urge you to try this recipe yourself. You’ll love it, trust me. 


Moving onto the other side of the earth, we’ll land in the home of my people—beautiful, rocky, Guatemala. I grew up eating many cuisines from Guatemala, as I lived with my immigrant grandmother for a hefty chunk of my adolescence. Caldo de Res (with a Guatemalan twist) was always a go-to, a beautiful beef bone soup that my grandma had made at least once a month, and still does to this day. Though I could’ve highlighted that soup in this article, I decided to go for something new, something I could also learn. Lo and behold, Pepian de Pollo comes to light. Translated to English, it’s a thick meat stew made of chicken. Culturally, it comes from the Mayan roots in Guatemala, fused with Spanish style. In Guatemala, it’s considered a national dish, which says a lot considering how absolutely delicious most Guatemalan dishes are (trust me, I’ve tried loads. It’s my culture, after all). Try it for yourself with a recipe from Growing Up Bilingual. 


Hold on tight, because we are crossing the Atlantic once again! I know nothing about Iceland other than that my favorite singer, Laufey, is mixed Icelantic, and this urged my curiosity to learn more about the culture—what better way to learn about a country’s culture than through its stomach? Fiskisupa is the name of this beloved soup, and though I couldn’t find much about the roots of this dish, I want to say geographically speaking, it makes sense for this Icelandic dish to be entirely based on fish. Other countries have similar soups originating from the fisherman’s desire to eat. Though not much research has been recorded for this soup, who doesn’t love a warm soup with fishy flavor, try this recipe from Abras Kitchen.


The last stop on our cultural journey is down south in the beautiful land of Ethiopia. I really wanted the soups I chose to have diversity within them. Not just culturally, but in their content as well. The previous soups, as delicious as they are, aren’t inclusive to everyone. They all have some sort of meat or animal content, and if we’re keeping this article local, Los Angeles is named the 3rd most Vegan-friendly city in the nation. With this information, I find it safe to assume this may reach a vegan user. Well aren’t you lucky, because this Ethiopian cuisine is vegan! (and high protein, if you care about that stuff). Again, not a lot of research could be found about the Misir Wot history, but a fun fact I learned is that it was a popular dish during the orthodox Christian fasting period. This recipe looks promising and delicious, so I would encourage you to try it out with this recipe from Simply Quinoa.

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