When you feel a little under the weather, the weather turns cold and damp, or you just find yourself in the mood for a big bowl of comfort, you can't beat a nice steaming bowl of soup. Put down the takeout menu and try these fragrant Chinese-style soups that feature distinct, soothing flavors that will warm you up from the inside out. (We included a few Taiwanese soups as well.) And when you don't feel like cooking, consider these recipes your cheat sheet to the soup section of many Chinese restaurant's menus, too.
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Egg Drop Soup
Satisfying and easy to make at home, egg drop soup starts by seasoning chicken or vegetable broth then adding beaten eggs to give the broth more texture. Using homemade chicken or vegetable broth would give it a deeper flavor, but store-bought works, too. For a vegan version, thicken it with cornstarch or potato flour. Simply add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or potato flour to the broth, whisk, then add it to the soup pot. Green onions add brightness to the finished product.
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A popular Chinese restaurant dish, the name wonton means "swallowing a cloud" because the little dumplings resemble clouds. In this recipe, make your own wontons with prepared wrappers folded over a savory pork mixture, then add them to a fragrant broth seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Bok choy adds a little extra color and texture.
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Spinach Soup with Tofu
As nutritious as it is delicious, this spinach and tofu soup gets its lovely fragrance from soy sauce, chili paste, garlic, and a little sesame oil. Use firm tofu so the cubes maintain their shape, or a softer tofu if you like a silkier texture.
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Sizzling Rice Soup
So named for the crackling sound the crisp rice makes when it hits the hot broth, sizzling rice soup makes a fun addition to any menu. Use either chicken or shrimp (or both) for this dish that also includes mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots to round it out.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
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Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
Made with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, green onions, and chili oil, even dedicated meat-eaters will love this vegetarian hot and sour soup. Traditionally made with shredded or minced pork or chicken, an extra dose of mushrooms and veggies gives this soup just as much body and umami flavor so you'll never miss the meat.
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Cream Corn Soup
Traditionally, this warming Cantonese soup starts with velveting, or chopping the meat or seafood into small pieces and mixing it with egg whites, liquid, and cornstarch. But this quicker and easier cream corn soup uses cornstarch and water mixture as a thickener, with egg whites streamed into the hot broth before serving, just like in Egg Drop Soup. Swap out the crabmeat for chicken or ham, if you prefer.
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Tomato Egg Drop Soup
For a summertime spin on simple egg drop soup, add the season's freshest tomatoes. Once you master the technique, try other mix-ins such as mushrooms, tofu, water chestnuts, or other farmers' market veggies.
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Seaweed Egg Drop Soup
Dried seaweed and ginger give this egg drop soup variation an extra umami boost and a little spice, perfect for when you have the sniffles or prefer a more assertive flavor. Try customizing the flavor by mixing in your favorite protein or vegetables.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
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Tangyuan (Soup with Pork and Shallots)
Customarily enjoyed during the Yuanxiao Festival (also known as the Lantern Festival and Winter Solstice Festival), this version of tangyuan features hearty dumplings with a pork, shallot, and ginger filling. Some baby bok choy brightens up the dish.
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Lunar New Year Longevity Soup
Coiled like little bird's nests, misua wheat noodles swell up when cooking, both thickening the soup and adding hearty texture. One bundle will serve two, as a general rule. Try this soup during Lunar New Year, birthdays, or holidays.
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Tang Mein (Noodles in Soup)
Even more popular than chow mein, or fried noodles, tang mien, or noodles in soup, makes a lovely flavorful dish to start off your meal or on its own. Either chicken or pork works, as well as just about any other cooked meat you may have on hand.
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West Lake Beef Soup
A simple, fragrant soup made with ground beef, green onion, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and egg, West Lake beef soup will warm your belly. It tastes great with a little fresh cilantro, a drizzle of chili oil, or bean sprouts on top.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
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Winter Melon Soup
This popular dish features the mildly sweet taste of winter melon, which you'll find at most Asian markets. It resembles an oblong watermelon, but without the characteristic green striations down the rind. Many households make this soup with pork ribs and pork broth, but chicken broth works as well.
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Red Bean Soup
While Sweet Red Bean Soup, made with adzuki beans, doesn't show up on many takeout menus, it makes a delicious and unique dessert. The dried tangerine peel used in the soup supposedly aids digestion, too. It also doesn't come out too sweet; the sugar just intensifies the flavor.
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Mustard Green Chicken Soup
A traditional Lunar New Year dish, the long green stalks of mustard greens in this simple soup traditionally represent long life. With chicken, ginger, and white pepper, it also makes a flavorful addition to any festive menu or a light main dish on its own.
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Hot and Sour Soup
Unlike other Sichuan dishes, this classic soup gets its heat from white pepper. The many variations of hot and sour soup generally contain wood ear mushrooms, tofu, carrot, and pork. This version uses red rice vinegar which you can find at many Asian markets, but white rice vinegar works, too. If you like your hot and sour soup extra sour, add vinegar right at the end and cook for less time.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
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Swallow's Nest Soup
Made with the nests of the swiftlet, legend has it that eating swallow nest soup can improve health and vitality. The jury's still out on that one, but try making it at home just to be sure. You can sometimes find the nests online, if you have trouble sourcing them.
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Tong Shui (Dessert Soup)
Made with striking black sesame seeds, tong shui will end your meal on an elegant note. Garnish with crushed nuts, shredded coconut, or softened chopped dates for added flair.