If a steaming bowl of soup strikes you as the ultimate in old-fashioned comfort, you’ve got plenty of company.
“Every culture has some kind of soup,” she said. “It’s got very ancient roots.” Early people simmered it in everything from turtle shells to lengths of bamboo, she writes in the book, turning out metal soup pots starting in the Bronze Age.
Boiling food made it possible to subsist on stable grains, with herbs and other ingredients added for nourishment or medicinal purposes.
Each time you deliver a pot of soup to a friend with the sniffles, Clarkson said you’re in fact carrying on an age-old tradition. “Separating food and medicine — that’s not how ancient people thought of it,” she said. “I think in every country in the world, historically, some soups were seen as restorative.”
That’s true no matter what you call it. Today, soup leans brothy while stews are more substantial, but the world’s spoonable foods have never fit neatly into the two English-language categories.
While Clarkson dove into centuries of etymology to trace the history of soup, potage and broth, she settled on a generously broad take. “Just some stuff cooked in water,” she wrote, “with the flavored water becoming a crucial part of the dish.”
It’s a definition that leaves room for the world’s tremendous culinary diversity. These are CNN’s nominations for 20 of the best soups around the world:
Banga | Nigeria
Fruits from the oil palm tree lend both fat and flavor to this soup from the Niger Delta, which also features fresh catfish, beef and dried seafood.
It’s so popular that packets of ready-mixed banga spice are sold in shops. Most blends include African nutmeg, castor seed, orima, jansa and beletete leaves.
The spices infuse a rich, red sauce that’s the soup’s main draw: Soak it up with eba or a ball of starch, two Nigerian staples both made from cassava prepared with different methods.
Beef pho (phở bò) | Vietnam
Broth is simmered for hours with cinnamon, star anise and other warm spices to create a wonderfully aromatic base for this rice noodle soup.
And while today’s pho restaurants serve a wide range of flavors, beef is the original. By 1930, Nguyen explained, the soup was served with slices of raw beef cooked gently in the broth.
Today, beef pho remains the most beloved version in Vietnam, with options that include the original raw beef, a mix of raw and cooked beef, brisket and tendon.
Borscht | Ukraine
Chunks of tender beets swim in brilliant red broth for a soup that’s beloved in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe. Often topped with a rich dollop of sour cream, borscht is anything but basic beet soup. It gets a tangy kick from kvass, a lacto-fermented beet juice that’s another regional specialty.
And while the soup is sometimes attributed to Russian cuisine, that claim is hotly contested. Now, Ukrainian chefs are behind