Photo: The Soup Spoon
Even in hot and sweltering Singapore, we have those rainy and grey days when all you want is a comforting bowl of soup for lunch or dinner. Asian-style soups are the best — double boiled, slow-cooked, packed with soul and tummy nourishing ingredients and big on flavour. We pick our favourites from the restaurants around town.
1. Sichuan and Cantonese Soups: Shang Social
At this multi-regional Chinese restaurant at Jewel Changi Airport, there are two delicious soups worth the trip over. The menu at Shang Social is designed by Shangri-La’s highly acclaimed Chinese master chefs specialising in Cantonese, Sichuan and Huaiyang cuisine. First up is the dramatic Seafood Broth Rice served in Ironpot ($18). Here, crispy rice, large prawns and hefty chunks of fish are served in an iron clay pot. The soup which is a collagen-rich, concentrated crustacean broth — read: packed with flavour — is poured on top. The iron pot ensures the soup is piping hot throughout and the flavours and textures are comfortingly excellent. The popular Sichuan delicacy, Red Garoupa Fillet Stewed in Pea Mashed Soup with Pickled Peppers and Chinese Cabbage ($78) is tart, mildly fiery and very moreish. The broth is a milky brew of fish stock, Sichuan peppercorns and bean paste, to which ingredients such as sliced garoupa, fresh mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, black fungus and house-cured young ginger and mustard vegetables are added. A medley of piquant flavours make this a perfect rainy day soup.
At #01-219 to 222 Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard Singapore 819666, tel: 6346 0260.
2. Asian-Style Stews: The Soup Spoon
The most obvious spot in town for a hearty, comforting bowl that is healthy and affordable — look no further than one of The Soup Spoon’s many outlets. It always states clearly its soups’ nutritional info, calories and ingredients so you know exactly what is in your nourishing bowl. The Tokyo Chicken Stew is a long-time favourite; both gluten and dairy-free and packed with lotus root, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and more. The Soup Spoon even does meatless versions of its popular soups, like the Sumo-Style Nabe which uses quorn, beancurd, napa cabbage and mushrooms and the broth is laced with soy milk.
At B1-K4/K7 Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859, tel: 6738 3860 and 26 other locations.
3. Bian Rou Soup: Putien
At the Michelin-approved menu of Putien, one of its simplest dishes is easily among the most popular. Putien’s Bian Rou (wanton) Soup is a Fujianese specialty still prepared the traditional way of the Qin Imperial Dynasty. Each bowl of clear broth comes laden with pork wantons, where the wanton wrappers themselves are made with pork meat and a bit of sun-dried sweet potato flour. This is hand pounded 12,000 times to achieve a paper-thin consistency within which a savoury pork and spring onion filling is encased. It is served in a delicate, clear vinegar-laced broth flavoured with fried shallots and spring onions. Priced at an affordable $4.90.
At 127 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208514, tel: 6295 6358 and 13 other locations.
4. Bak Kut Teh — Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Nothing works better or faster to clear up those sinuses than a steaming hot bowl of clear and pepper-laced ‘pork bone tea’. Its simplicity and consistency is what has ensured that Song Fa’s Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh is on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list for three consecutive years. A long-simmered broth of pork, pork bones and nourishing herbs and spices such as pepper, garlic and star anise are what make the backbone of the soup. Ingredients range from pork ribs and tenderloin to liver and premium pork loins. Perfect on its own, but excellent with fried dough fritters. Prices begin at $7.90 for a bowl.
At 11 New Bridge Road, #01-01, Singapore 059383, tel: 6438 2858 and 10 other outlets.
5. Double Boiled Four Treasure Soup: Madame Fan
Glamorous Chinese restaurant Madame Fan serves reinvented Cantonese classics in a menu designed by famed restaurateur Alan Yau. Its signature soup is the Double Boiled Four Treasure Soup ($28) where complementary sea flavours of sea cucumber, fish maw, dried scallops and crabmeat are brewed together for several hours and served in a young coconut. The coconut itself adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavour to the comforting broth — make sure to scrape some of the flesh into your soup spoons, it pairs excellently with generous chunks of crab meat.
At The NCO Club, 32 Beach Road, Singapore 189764, tel: 6818 1921.