Dine & Drink
Hong Kong Asia's World City

Soup's On!

Time Out By Time Out Hong Kong (18 January 2012)
Soup's on

One of Hong Kong's favourite culinary creations is soup. We visit many of the city's top restaurants to find all kinds of this heart-warming dish which is tasty on the palate and nurtures the soul.

Dorothy So takes a huge slurp of the world's most nourishing comfort food. Photography by Calvin Sit

CLEAR SOUPS

This is one of the two main classifications of soups. In French culinary tradition, the bouillon is considered the most basic clear soup and is made by simmering stock with an optional array of aromatic ingredients. Other clear soups can be made with additional ingredients and/or cooking steps as listed below.

Consommé

This classic soup consists of basic stock or broth that has been clarified with egg whites then filtered and skimmed to remove all traces of grease from the surface. The result is a clean, clear soup that has a crisp and rich flavour. The simple soup is considered one of the most sophisticated culinary preparations and can be served au naturel or dressed in a variety of garnishes.

Consommé

Sip it here
Madam Sixty Ate's chef Chris Woodyard serves a gussied-up bonito consommé with a fat slab of seared foie gras and tuna, and a soya bean-seaweed salad arranged on the rim of the plate. For something a little more delicate, Woodyard also plates up a deconstructed minestrone of clear tomato consommé with baby vegetables, capsicum, black olive flakes and an open lasagna layered with brown onion purée.

Address: 1/F, J Senses, 60 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai
Phone: +852 2527 2558
Website: www.madamsixtyate.com.hk

Miso

Perhaps the most well-known soup from Japan, miso soup is made by combining dashi stock with fermented soya bean paste.

Sip it here
Hokahoka does a particularly comforting miso.

Address: Shop 51-52, G/F, Houston Ctr, 63 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Phone: +852 2366 1784

Herbs & spices

Herbs and spices are commonly used around the world to perk up simple, clear soups. For example, Thailand's popular tom yum soup and Indonesia's soto soups are loaded with fragrant, zingy ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, cilantro and chillies. Medicinal herbs also feature prominently in Chinese soups (see slow simmered & double-boiled soups).

Herbs & spices

Sip it here
Racha Moo Yang dishes up one of our favourite tom yum soups.

Address: Shop AB, 87 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai
Phone: +852 2529 6378

Slow simmered & double-boiled

These two techniques are popular in Chinese cooking and are both thought to create nourishing soups, especially when medicinal herbs are added to the mix. For slow-simmered soups, clear broths are cooked on low heat for several hours. Tough cuts of parboiled meat such as lean pork, pig trotters and old chicken are often used in slow simmered soups because the lengthy cooking process renders the meat tender and also draws out the rich flavours within the ingredients. The gentle heat also ensures that the nutrients released from medicinal herbs such as wolfberries and Chinese yam aren’t destroyed during the cooking process.

Double-boiled soups work in a slightly different way. These are prepared in a special doubled-lidded ceramic vessel that is sealed and then partly submerged in water (similar to a bain-marie) and boiled for upwards of three or four hours. The covered cooking vessel is thought to prevent delicate ingredients from drying out while also locking in all the nutrients and flavours. Because of this, the double-boiling method is favoured when expensive ingredients such as ginseng, fish maw and abalone are involved.

Sip it here
Wah Fung offers a rotating selection of slow simmered soups every week while traditional Chinese medicine specialist Red More sells ready-to-drink double-boiled soups.

Wah Fung
Address: Unit 3, 4/F, James S Lee Mansion, 33-35 Carnarvon Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Phone: +852 2312 2581

Red More
Address: Shop L106B-C, LG/F, APM, 418 Kwun Tong Rd, Kwun Tong
Phone: +852 3148 9072

THICK SOUPS

The second of the two major soup classifications, these are categorised by the type of thickening agent added to the initial stock. Thick soups are mostly a Western culinary phenomenon as common thickeners – such as milk and cream – are not often used in Asian cooking.

Chowder

There is no clear-cut definition of chowders but the term usually denotes hearty, stew-like soups that are chock full of chunky ingredients. Most chowders – such as the famed New England clam chowder – are cream-based and are further thickened with diced potatoes. This is not always the case though; Manhattan clam chowders use puréed tomatoes in place of a roux to give it more body.

Chowder

Sip it here
Café Gray Deluxe's new menu includes a saffron scented New England lobster chowder served with lobster and aioli salad. The soup is almost bisque-like, made from whole ground lobster and finished with a touch of cream – but is also loaded with brunoise vegetables for an extra dose of heartiness.

Address: 49/F, The Upper House, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Phone: +852 3968 1106
Website: www.cafegrayhk.com

Cream

As the name suggests, these are thickened with the addition of cream. Traditionally though, cream soups refer to those thickened with béchamel – a sauce made from adding hot milk to a flour and butter roux. Cream soups are usually strained after cooking.

Sip it here
Frey & Ford's mushroom and truffle soup is a quick grab'n'go option.

Address: Shop 69, B1/F, Hong Kong Station, Central
Phone: +852 2530 1298
Website: www.freyford.com

Purée

These are commonly vegetable-based soups, which are thickened by starches naturally present in the boiled and strained ingredients. Pulses and root veggies such as carrots, potatoes and parsnips are especially appropriate because of their high starch content. Purée soups are slightly pulpier than other thick soups but it is common practice to add milk or cream to achieve a smoother, more uniform consistency.

Sip it here
Pret a Manger may be a chain but it offers a hearty, value-for-money pumpkin soup.

Address: Citywide, including shop 1015, 1/F, IFC Mall
Phone: +852 2295 0405
Website: www.pret.com.hk

Bisque

Traditionally, bisques are made with shellfish such as crab and lobster with the shells still intact. These are simmered with basic stock and then puréed and strained. Cream is then slowly added to the mixture to give it a still thicker and silkier consistency. Meats or vegetables can also be used as the base in bisques but these are not as common.

Sip it here
The Bostonian does a rich lobster bisque studded with scallop dumplings.

Address: B/F, The Langham, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Phone: +852 2375 1133

Velouté

Veloutés are the richest of all the classic soups. Basic stock is first thickened with roux (a cooked mixture of flour and butter). At this stage, the mixture is technically called a velouté sauce. A purée of the base ingredient (vegetable, meat or seafood) is then added to the sauce, followed by cream and egg yolks to form the thick soup.

Sip it here
Caprice offers velouté soups on a regular basis and the current menu includes one spun from escargot.

Address: 6/F, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance St, Central
Phone: +852 3196 8860

Information in this article is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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