5 Comforting Asian Soups To Fill The Soul

There is nothing quite like a piping-hot bowl of soup to fill you up.

Soups are a staple in many Asian cuisines, offering a comforting and flavourful way to fill the belly and feed the soul. In some cultures, soups are served as an appetiser, while in others, it is paired with noodles or rice and savoured as the main highlight of a meal. 

From the delicate simplicity of a bowl of Japanese miso soup to the vibrant and spicy flavours of Thai tom yum, there is an Asian soup recipe to suit every taste.

Here are a few of our favourite recipes:

Japanese Miso Soup

Often enjoyed during a traditional Japanese breakfast or as a complement to a rice dish, miso soup is known for its umami-rich flavour, protein content and probiotic health benefits. A classic Japanese soup is made with dashi, miso paste, tofu, and seaweed. 

Serves 4

What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 sheets of kombu or dried kelp
  • 3 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 package silken tofu, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Optional: 

How to prepare:

  • Combine water and kombu in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat to medium and whisk in miso paste. 
  • Stir in tofu. 
  • Separate the layers of green onions, and add them to the soup. 
  • Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.


Thai Tom Yum Soup

Made with seafood or chicken, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and fish sauce, tom yum soup is a popular spicy and sour soup in Thailand known for its complex and invigorating flavour. Packed with heat from chilli peppers, tom yum soup is bound to tickle your tastebuds. 

There are plenty of ready-made Tom Yum pastes in the market, but if you’re up for the challenge, try putting together your own pot from scratch with the recipe below!

Serves 4-6

What you’ll need:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, lower third finely minced, top bulb smashed and bound with twine
  • 1 carrot, thickly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons grated galangal or ginger
  • 3 makrut lime leaves (or bay leaves and long strip of lime zest)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 12 to 14 medium raw prawns (or 8 to 10 large), shells left on or removed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 to 1/3 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon chilli oil, optional
  • Brown sugar, to taste, optional
  • Crushed chilli pepper flakes, to taste, optional
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)

How to prepare:

  • Pour the stock into a deep cooking pot over medium-high heat. Add the prepared lemongrass, including the upper sections of the stalk. Boil 5 to 6 minutes to soften.
  • Add carrot, garlic, onion, galangal or ginger, lime leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. Reduce heat slightly, cover, and continue simmering 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, and continue simmering another 5 minutes. 
  • Add shrimp and cherry tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes or until prawns are pink and plump.
  • Turn down the heat to low and add 1/4 can coconut milk, chilli oil, and brown sugar and red pepper flakes to taste (if using). Add the remaining teaspoon of fish sauce or more chilli oil to taste. Discard the lime or bay leaves and the zest, if using. Serve with fresh cilantro sprinkled over and enjoy. 


Chinese Hot & Sour Soup

Hot and sour soup is a popular Chinese soup made with a variety of ingredients, such as tofu strips, bamboo shoots, pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and wood ear fungus. The soup is made with a combination of sour and spicy ingredients, such as vinegar, chilli peppers, and black pepper and is typically served with fish, shredded pork or chicken.

Serves 3

What you’ll need:

Ingredient (A) 

Ingredients (B)

  • 1 tablespoon bamboo shoot
  • 2 Chinese dried mushrooms, medium size (or 1 large size)
  • 1 piece wood ear fungus, about 10 g of dry weight
  • 30 g carrots, cut into fine julienne
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 150 grams tofu, medium firm
  • 600 ml water, or use chicken stock

Ingredients (C)

  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chilli bean sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Ingredients (D)

  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg, beaten


How to prepare:

  • (Ingredient A) Cut the pork loin into fine julienne. Marinate with the light soy sauce, vegetable oil, and cornstarch for 15 minutes.
  • (Ingredients B) Soak the dry mushrooms and wood ear fungus until they are soft and fully hydrated. Cut them into fine julienne. Cut three slices of ginger and set aside. Cut the carrots into julienne. Cut the tofu into strips.
  • Bring the water to a boil. Cook the meat for half a minute. Then add the remaining ingredients in (B)into the pot and boil for two minutes.
  • Add ingredients (C) to the above.
  • (Ingredients D) Thicken the soup with the cornstarch slurry (corn starch mix with water), Then follow by adding the beaten egg.
  • Remove from heat. Add ingredients in (E). Mix well and serve.


Vietnamese Pho 

Pho is a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, herbs, and thinly sliced meat. The broth is typically simmered for hours, resulting in an incredible myriad of flavours from the meat. Best of all, Pho can be customised to your liking by adding fresh basil or even seafood. 

Pick-up a pack of Pho spices right here in Asian Pantry and start brewing a heartwarming bowl of Pho by following the recipe below!

Serves 2

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 75g root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 stems of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar 
  • 2 x 450g tubs fresh beef stock
  • 3 nests of flat rice noodles
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 x 225g rump steak
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 lime, plus slices and wedges to serve
  • 1-2 green bird eye chillies, sliced (use as much or as little as you like, depending on how hot you like it)
  • A handful coriander, leaves only

How to prepare:

  • Reserve 2 of the spring onions for garnish and roughly chop the rest. Place in a medium saucepan with the ginger, star anise, lemongrass, palm sugar and stock. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 35 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again and divide between 2 deep bowls.
  • Heat a frying pan until very hot and add the oil. Pat the steak dry with kitchen paper and season on both sides. Fry for 1-11⁄2 minutes on each side, then remove to a chopping board and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. The steak should still be rare inside, as it will continue to cook in the hot broth.
  • Place a mound of bean sprouts on top of the noodles in each bowl. Thinly slice the steak and add to the bowls with any juices from the board. Season the broth with the fish sauce and juice of half a lime (or more, to taste). Strain the hot broth over the beef and noodles. Thinly slice the reserved spring onions and add some to the bowls with the chillies and coriander. Add lime slices and serve with chopsticks, soup spoons and the lime wedges and remaining spring onions on the side.

Malaysian Curry Nyonya Laksa 

Curry laksa is a Malaysian noodle soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, and chilli peppers to form a decadent curry broth. The broth is typically stewed with protein such as seafood, chicken, or tofu. For a winter-friendly laksa, add extra spices to your broth, such as curry powder, turmeric, and cumin.

You may attempt the noodle soup with a pre-made Laksa sauce, or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, try out the recipe from scratch below!

Serves 4

What you’ll need: 

For the Sambal:

  • 10 fresh red chillies (100g) 
  • 10 stalks dried chilli (20g), soaked
  • 2 teaspoons belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 6 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the Spice Paste:

  • 10 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-inch segment old turmeric (30g), skinned
  • 2-inch segment galangal (60g) 
  • 8 stalks lemongrass (100g), sliced
  • 20 stalks dried chillies, soaked until softened
  • 10 candlenuts (60g)

For the Laksa Broth: 

  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 quart prawn or chicken stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 20 pieces tofu puffs, scalded in hot water briefly to remove oil (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Ingredients for assembly:

  • Cooked egg noodles
  • Cooked vermicelli
  • 200g bean sprouts, blanched
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 500g prawns, boiled and peeled
  • 2-3 large fishcakes, boiled and sliced
  • 20 quail eggs, hard-boiled (see notes)

How to prepare:

  • To Prepare the Sambal: Using an electric blender, finely grind fresh red chiles, dried chiles, and shrimp paste. Heat oil. Sauté chile spice paste until fragrant, stirring continuously. Add salt and sugar to taste. Set aside to serve with finished laksa.
  • To Prepare the Spice Paste: Using an electric blender, pulse shallots, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, dried chiles, candlenuts, and shrimp paste until they form a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary.
  • To Prepare the Laksa Broth: In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1/2 cup cooking oil. Sauté spice paste until fragrant. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk, tofu puffs, and salt. Bring to a quick boil, stirring continuously. Turn off heat once broth comes to a boil.
  • To Assemble: Blanch noodles in boiling water and drain. Place some noodles into a bowl, garnish with bean sprouts and cucumber. Ladle hot laksa broth and tofu puffs over noodles. Top with prawns, fish cake slices, quail eggs. Serve with sambal.


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