These are CNN’snominations for 20 of the best soups around the world:
Banga | Nigeria
Banga is so popular in Nigeria that shops sell ready-mixed packets of spice.
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
A bowl of beef pho is sure to cure what ails you.
The broth is simmered for hours with cinnamon, star anise, and other warm spices to create a wonderfully aromatic base for this rice noodle soup.
Pho is among Vietnam’s most recognized culinary exports, but the soup is a relatively new food, wrote Andrea Nguyen, author of “The Pho Cookbook.”
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.
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 a campaign to get their version on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Bouillabaisse | France
Bouillabaisse is synonymous with Marseille, France
A fisherman’s stew turned culinary icon, bouillabaisse distills classic Mediterranean flavors into a dish synonymous with the coastal city of Marseille. Saffron, olive oil, fennel, garlic, and tomatoes blend with fish fresh from the sea.
At one time, that fish would reflect each day’s catch, but things have gotten a bit stricter.
According to signatories of the 1980 Bouillabaisse Charter — a collective attempt by local chefs to ensure the quality of the French soup — the most authentic recipe must include at least four kinds of seafood chosen from a list that includes monkfish and crab.
Caldo Verde | Portugal
This hearty soup hails from Portugal’s wine country.
Thinly sliced greens meld with potatoes and onions in this homey soup from Portugal’s wine-producing Minho region. Now, the soup is a culinary star from upscale cafes to rural kitchens, the definition of down-home comfort food.
In many versions, tender Portuguese chouriço sausage adds an undercurrent of smoky, salty flavor that makes the soup even heartier. Enjoy alongside a glass of Minho’s famed Vinho Verde wine.
Chorba frik | Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia
Chorba frik is popular in North Africa after the sun sets during Ramadan.
Durum wheat harvested while green, called freekeh, adds satisfying heft and nourishment to this North African soup, which is especially beloved during the holy time of Ramadan.
The tender grains absorb a tomato broth and aromatic spices, their flavor melding with chickpeas plus stewed chicken, beef, mutton, or lamb. Serve with lemon wedges and a hunk of kesra bread.
Chupe de camarones | Peru
Shrimp lovers will want to try the Peruvian soup known as chupe de Camarones.
This creamy shrimp chowder is a specialty of Arequipa, a historic city surrounded by towering volcanoes. Cold nights in the mountains are perfect for the hearty dish: Tender shrimp swim alongside chunks of Andean potatoes and corn.
It’s got a kick, too. The addition of ají Amarillo, chili pepper with a lilting, fruity flavor, adds satisfying spice to balance out the rich and creamy ingredients. Maybe that explains the soup’s reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac.
Gazpacho | Spain
Gazpacho is a great way to enjoy a cold treat on a hot day.
Summer in Andalusia brings searing weather, ideal for cooling down with a bowl of this chilled vegetable soup. Today’s most classic version includes tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, and olive oil, with a handful of stale breadcrumbs added to the body.
Arabs brought the dish to the Iberian Peninsula centuries before Spaniards tasted tomatoes, a New World ingredient. The original was a blend of bread, garlic, and olive oil pounded in a mortar and seasoned with vinegar.
Groundnut soup | West Africa
Sweet potatoes and okra are stars in this particular version of groundnut soup, popular throughout West Africa.
As with so many culinary treats, groundnut soup ignores international boundaries: Meat, fish, or chicken simmered into a thick peanut soup is pure comfort food in countries across West Africa. Versions range from Gambian domoda — the national dish — to a Nigerian take cooked with bitter, leafy greens.
No matter the country, such soups and stews are creamy, rich, and salty, a satisfying combination that often gets a fiery jolt from the addition of Scotch bonnet peppers.
Gumbo | United States
Chicken, sausage, and shrimp festoon this gumbo.
Cultures and flavors meld in a hearty soup that’s a star of Louisiana cuisine, influenced by West African, Native Choctaw, and French cuisines. Versions made with seafood, chicken, and sausage are among the most popular today, but there are myriad ways to make this Southern specialty.
Ground, dried sassafras leaves — called filé and long harvested by the Choctaw people — give many gumbo recipes a distinctive spice. Some cooks thicken their soup with a cooked flour paste called a roux, while others swear by sautéed slices of okra.
Every possible version is on display each year at theWorld Champion Gumbo Cookoff in New Iberia, Louisiana, where cooks battle for some serious soup-master bragging rights.
Harira | Morocco
Moroccan harira uses chickpeas in a savory tomato broth to superb effect.
When the sun sets during the month of Ramadan, many Moroccans break their fasts with a hot bowl of this comforting chickpea stew. Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and pepper lend warming spice to the savory tomato broth, which soaks into tender chickpeas. It’s also widely enjoyed in Algeria.
While vegetarian recipes are popular, the most classic version is simmered with tender chunks of lamb or other meat. It’s not just fasting fare for Muslims; some North African Jews also prepare harira to break the annual fast of Yom Kippur.
Kharcho | Georgia
A plum sauce gives kharcho its zesty flavor.
The tart plum sauce called tkemali adds a bright, zesty flavor to this traditional soup, which is one of Georgia’s most beloved dishes.
It’s made with unripe plums, whose sour note balances the richness of fatty beef and ground walnuts cooked into the soup. The aromatic kick, though, comes from the spice mix khmeli suneli, a blend of coriander, savory, fenugreek, black pepper, marigold, and more.
Lanzhou beef noodle soup | China
Of course, a Chinese soup makes the best 20 list — one taste of Lanzhou beef noodle soup will tell you why
Shaping — or pulling — la mian noodles by hand for this traditional soup is an art in itself. Artisans use a finely milled, high-gluten flour and alkaline powder to mix a stretchy dough, then pull and fold a single piece of dough to make enough noodles for a bowl of soup.
Slip them into a bowl of beef broth for a world-class soup that includes tender beef, pale slices of radish, chili oil, and fresh herbs. (At some shops, diners may even ask for noodles of a preferred thickness and shape.)
Mohinga | Myanmar
This version of mohinga features catfish, rice noodles, chicken eggs, and lime.
Soup is what’s for breakfast in much of Myanmar, where sidewalk vendors and tea shops hawk steaming bowls of mohinga out of enormous vats. The soul of this noodle soup is the aromatic broth, which is simmered with herbs and thickened with toasted rice powder.
Fish lends added richness, while the thin rice noodles are perfect for slurping. Mohinga is so beloved that it’s gone from breakfast dish to anytime snack, and each region has its own twist on the classic soup.
Menudo | Mexico
Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe and hominy. It’s touted for its curative effects on hangovers.
Tripe simmered for hours in a piquant, garlicky broth is the ultimate Mexican hangover cure, but menudo goes far beyond morning-after remedies. It’s a favorite at weddings and big occasions, too, when an enormous pot of the traditional soup can feed dozens of guests.
It’s sheer comfort food, with kernels of hominy that get a fresh bite from a garnish of raw onions, chiles, and cilantro. Choose from one of two main varieties: Menudo Rojo turns a deep red from chiles in the broth, while Sonoran-style Menudo Blanco is a milder alternative.
Moqueca de camarão | Brazil
Shrimp floating in a coconut broth? Count us in for moqueca de camarão.
Palm oil and tomatoes tint coconut broth a warm, orangey-red in this specialty from the Bahia region of Brazil, where locals eat steaming bowls on even the hottest days.
This soup’s real draw is sweet, tender shrimp floating in the broth, however. Traditionally, moqueca de camarão is cooked in a handmade pot made from black clay and the sap of mangrove trees, then brought to the table in the same authentic vessel.
Soto Ayam | Indonesia
This is a chicken noodle soup with an indulgent Indonesian twist.
Chicken noodle soup may reach its culinary pinnacle in this piquant Indonesian dish. Spices such as fresh turmeric, star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass, and lime leaves combine for deeply layered aroma and flavor, with the jammy yolks of soft-boiled eggs to add extra richness.
Every part of Indonesia has a local twist, and the soup is also beloved in Singapore, Malaysia, and in faraway Suriname in South America, where the recipe arrived with Javanese immigrants.
Eat topped with fried shallots, fresh limes, and a fiery scattering of sliced red chiles.
Tom yum Goong | Thailand
Shiitake mushrooms and prawns are the stars of this version of tom yum soup.
Sweet, sour, spicy, and salty, this soup’s magnificent broth is the ideal foil for sweet, tender shrimp. Aromatic ingredients include galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves, while slivers of bright red bird’s eye chilis add additional heat.
Tom yum Goong is just one of many varieties of tom yum soup in Thailand — this version comes enriched with fat prawns, and is a favorite with many diners.
Tonkotsu ramen | Japan
This classic ramen soup is flavored with pork bones.
Long-simmered pork bones impart intense flavor to this classic ramen, whose broth is cloudy with marrow and fat. It’s a signature of Fukuoka Prefecture on the southerly island of Kyushu, but the rich soup is now served in ramen shops across the country (and the world).
While the indulgent broth is the star of tonkatsu ramen, a bowl isn’t complete without slices of pork belly and a tangle of noodles that are hard in the center. Eat with a pair of chopsticks and a flat-bottomed spoon, and don’t forget to slurp — it’s believed to enhance the flavor.
Yayla çorbasi | Turkey
Yayla çorbasi speaks to a time when soup and medicine weren’t considered such separate things.
Boiled rice or barley adds grainy sweetness to this creamy yogurt soup. It’s believed to ward off colds during winter; some Turkish hospitals even serve yogurt soup to recovering patients.
A crumble of dried mint helps balance the yogurt’s slight tang. Serve with a pillowy round of fresh pita bread.