It was late in the evening when we arrived in Hanoi and the mercury was peaking at around 0°C. Being Aussie travellers that had just arrived from a sunny summer in Queensland, the chill cut straight to the bone, so the prescribed remedy was to dive into a bowl of steaming pho. We were in luck - you can find it everywhere and anywhere in Hanoi, you just have to be a little adventurous and follow your nose. We promptly squeezed into a street vendor's tiny restaurant hidden down an alley and slurped our way through some of the freshest pho I have ever set eyes on. The fragrant broth spiked with plenty of chilli and fresh herbs was second to none.
This wonderful Vietnamese noodle soup, that is always served proudly with the freshest of ingredients, beautifully portrays the attitude of the Vietnamese towards food which forms such a major part of their identity. It doesn’t matter which corner of the globe you venture to, soup is always there to soothe the soul, and in this case warm my fingers, as they wrap tightly around one little steaming melamine bowl packed full of all the recognisable flavours of Vietnam.
From thick chunky Mediterranean soups, to complex and creamy French bisques to Asian style broths with wontons bobbing around aplenty, soup is a cultural delicacy, but more importantly it's comfort food to share amongst friends and family at the end of a cold day.
Like many others, pumpkin soup was on the menu at my house quite regularly whilst I was growing up. It is a fail-safe of any mum’s repertoire and is strategically produced by mothers the world over at just the right moment when a little extra love is needed. Steaming hot soup conjures up so many nostalgic memories for me. As the cooler months rolled in to my home town of Mildura, my mum would pinch the pumpkins from our neighbours pumpkin patch and cook the soup in a huge caldron... it would last for days.
So winter has arrived again and it's this time of year that reminds of the simple joy of curling up with bowl of soup. Winter veggies are screaming deliciousness at the markets at the moment and I stumbled across some gorgeous purple carrots that were just begging to become a soup. I guarantee that my silky smooth purple carrot and beetroot soup with a hit of cumin, then dolloped with creamy mascarpone will help you through the chilliest of winter’s days. Now this soup may not necessarily define any one culture, but it does scream warmth and comfort...and on days like this, what more do you want!