Top 5 Simple, Warming Soups with Global Flavor

Have I been all over the globe? I have not. So I hope you'll chime in with your favorite global soups in the comment section, I'm always pronta to try a new recipe!

1) Farro soup: One may as well begin with Italy, right? Now, you can make this with barley or even brown rice, if farro is hard to come by, but I can tell those of you in the States that Trader Joe's sells farro as a very reasonable price.

How to Make It: Combine about one part cooked farro to two parts meat (or mushroom) ragu. Add in a splash or two of milk and enough farro cooking water to make it the right texture. Season to taste, add more farro or more ragu if desired to change the proportions. Ladle into bowls and serve with a swirl of olive oil, grated parmesan or pecorino, and freshly cracked pepper.

2) Albondigas: This Mexican meatball soup hits me where I live. I remember the smell of it wafting through the house when I was little, and I would start looking forward to it hours before it was ready.

How to Make It: Mix one pound ground beef with 1/3 cup of white rice, 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, 1 tablespoon minced mint, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Form into balls about one inch across. In a dutch oven sauté chopped onion, carrot, and celery with a bay leaf. When vegetables are soft, add chicken broth. Once it's burbling, gently add the meatballs and a handful of rice. Cook for about a half hour. Season to taste, and serve with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and mint.

3) Leek soup: This one also hits me where I live. This is my grandmere's recipe, and then my mother's and now mine. I've tried to use recipes (including Julia's) to gussy it up, thinking this is just too simple, it must be improvable, but it turns out, no. It is perfect just the way it is. Despite, and because, of its simplicity.

How to Make It: Into a dutch oven half-filled with simmering water, add roughly equal parts peeled and cubed potatoes, chopped yellow onion, and chopped leeks (make sure they are very clean!). The water should cover the vegetables with about an inch to spare. Simmer for about an hour until vegetables are tender. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender in batches) to blend to a smooth consistency. Add a splash or two of milk. Serve topped with a pat of butter or better yet, a spoonful of créme fraîche (like a creamier sour cream).

4) Salmon chowder: I like this even better than clam chowder (a soup I love so much I feel the need to order it whenever I see it, and enjoy it canned, bottled, what have you). It's warming and creamy and alongside a wedge of good sourdough it's just a perfect meal.

How to Make It: Sauté 1/2 pound of bacon sliced into 1/4 inch strips until they're crisp. Remove the bacon, and into the fat add a (literal) bunch of sliced scallions, 2 cup of corn (fresh or frozen), about a half pound of yukon gold potatoes peeled and chopped into small cubes, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 2 teaspoon of fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes until scallions are soft. Add one bottle of clam juice, 3 cups of whole milk, and 1 cup of heavy cream. Bring to a gentle boil, then add about two pounds of salmon (no skin) cut into 1 inch pieces, the bacon, salt and pepper, and cook until the salmon is cooked, about 7 minutes. Season to taste and stir in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and serve garnished with chopped chives.

5) Vietnamese Noodle Soup: This is essentially a low-stakes version of pho, a soup we love so much, it may well be the entire reason we're journeying to South East Asia this summer (I wouldn't put it past us, our tastebuds do dictate much of our travels). We made this soup for Angelo and he pronounced it "molto saporita!" Very flavorful. I think he really grooved on the fish sauce, which adds an umami depth and richness, while keeping it leggere, light.

How to Make It: Place rice noodles (the kind used in pad thai) in water to soak. Place chicken (any pieces, though breasts seem to make clearer broth) in plenty of water with a knob of ginger, a bunch of scallions, white peppercorns, salt, a quarter bunch of cilantro, two stalks of celery, and a few smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer, skimming constantly so the broth stays clear. When the chicken is done, drain the broth, and return it to the pot, and shred the chicken, tossing the flavorings. Prepare (just whatever of these you like) soybean sprouts, cilantro leaves, basil leaves, a few minced cloves of garlic browned in oil (keep garlic in that oil), a bowl of fish sauce with chopped hot peppers in it, and lime wedges. Heat a wok, swirl in some oil, add the drained noodles and fry until soft (alternatively, you can boil the noodles, I just like the texture better when they are cooked in the wok). Into each bowl place some noodles, chicken, sprouts, and a squirt of fish sauce. Ladle broth over the bowl and allow diners to fix up their soup with the condiments.