It’s been raining every other day in the later part of the year and that can mean only one thing — monsoon season is upon us. Living in Singapore means we’ve been blessed (or cursed) with barely any kind of variation in season and I guess endless rain is as close as we’re going to get to snow.
Sweater weather demands hibernation and hearty food, and there’s nothing I love more on a rainy day than a steaming bowl of soup. We’re spoilt for choice in that department and it’s a been a daily struggle recently to pick a favourite.
You won’t find any rice and noodles on this list, just ten popular soups to help you keep warm this colder part of the year.
10. Sliced Fish Soup
For some reason, the moment it rains, all I think about is having a hot bowl of sliced fish soup for lunch. Some of the more popular soups in Singapore warrant a whole hour’s wait!
The Teochew original comes in several varieties, but the gist of it is the addition of sliced batang or grouper to a fish and vegetable broth. Sometimes, the fish is fried beforehand, making for a more sinful version and I personally love opting to add evaporated milk for a richer broth on top of that.
If you’re looking for a healthy and heart-warming version of this dish, try the Sliced Fish Soup at Han Kee. The broth is clear and fragrant and I appreciate that no fishy smell lingers on the fish. Be prepared to queue though!
Han Kee: Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road, #02-129, Singapore 069111
9. Mutton Soup
I’ll be straight up and say that this soup is definitely not going to be easy on your waistline. Some stormy days, however, call for an indulgent bowl of mutton soup and I for one won’t deny myself the occasional cheat day.
Mutton seems to be a meat that’s either a hit or a miss with most people, but its unique flavour is what makes this Indian-Muslim dish so rich and thick. The addition of spices ties all the elements together and makes for a fragrant broth that I dream of mopping up with pieces of French loaf.
For a solid version, try the famous Bahrakath Mutton Soup King where the meat and tendon is tender and melts in your mouth.
Bahrakath Mutton Soup King: Adam Road Food Center, 2 Adam Rd, #01-10, Singapore 289876
8. Bak Kut Teh
Another popular soup that immediately jumps to mind on a rainy day is a hearty bowl of Bak Kut Teh. This pork rib dish literally translates to “meat bone tea” but the tea refers instead to a strong Oolong that is recommended to be drunk alongside this dish to cut through the fattiness.
The broth is full of flavour, having been boiled with meaty pork bones and a myriad of spices. There are three main styles of Bak Kut Teh, namely Teochew, Hokkien and Cantonese.
I’d say the peppery Teochew broth is the favourite here in Singapore and you can find a good bowl of this soup at Tuan Yuan Bak Kut Teh. The owner there insists on using only quality ingredients like fresh (instead of frozen) pork, which is boiled for hours to create a rich and fulfilling broth.
Tuan Yuan Bak Kut Teh: Block 127 Kim Tian Road, #01-01, Singapore 160127 | Tel:+65 6684 0123 / +65 9050 0123 | Opening Hours: (Closed Mondays) Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 8am to 3am | Website
7. Chinese Herbal Soup
On those gloomy days when all I need is a pick me up, nothing but a decent bowl of herbal soup will do. A herbal soup stall generally sells a variety, catering to the different benefits that the combination of herbal ingredients in the soups offer.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses natural herbs with healing properties, and these recipes translate into soups that are perfect if you’re feeling under the weather. For a good and dependable selection, visit Earth Jar Treasure.
If you’re feeling tired, opt for the Ginseng Chicken Soup, or if you’re fighting a fever the Heat Relief Lotus Pork Soup will probably help alleviate your pain. You can definitely rest easy knowing these soups are going to be good for you.
Earth Jar Treasure: Blk 22 Sin Ming Road, Singapore 570022 | Tel: +65 9383 1864 | Opening Hours: 10am to 8.30pm | Website
6. Tom Yam Soup
It’s almost blasphemy to go to a Thai Restaurant and not order a tom yum soup and there’s something about colder weather that makes me crave for something spicy and warm. Tom yum is a beloved Thai soup that is traditionally cooked with prawns and features a hot and sour flavour profile.
Fragrant spices and herbs are added to the broth and the soup has now evolved to include all kinds of ingredients like different meats and vegetables. There are two main kinds of soup bases: a spicy coconut broth and a clear broth.
I’m a fan of the latter and always get my fix at Jane Thai. The Clear Tom Yum Soup with Seafood doesn’t disappoint and the generous portion of ingredients means I pretty much don’t even have to have it with any rice.
Jane Thai: 41 East Coast Road, Singapore 428761 | Tel: +65 6209 0448 | Facebook
5. Seafood Chowder
In a land of Asian broths and soups, sometimes all you need is a creamier and thicker alternative to make the most of a soddy day. My palate demands the occasional seafood chowder, which seems to be getting increasingly popular in Singapore.
Chowder has a history of being considered a poor man’s food, where any available vegetables and fish are stewed in a pot with milk, flour and water. Now, chowders are laden with all kinds of seafood and my favourite has to be a good ol’ clam chowder, served in a bread bowl.
Seattle Pike Chowder does a great version in the form of the New England Clam Chowder. If you’re new to chowder, they even offer a Sampler Chowder where you get to choose from three on the menu.
Seattle Pike Chowder: Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central, #01-05, Singapore 449408 & Fort Canning Arts Centre, 5 Cox Terrace, #01-01, Singapore 179620 | Website
4. Miso Soup
Miso soup isn’t usually a meal by itself but I had to include it in this list purely because we all love it so much in Singapore. This Japanese soup is made from a basic dashi stock and miso paste, which mainly comprises fermented soy beans.
Tofu and seaweed are the usual ingredients and make for a healthy soup that’s easy to have anywhere. I usually buy sachets and keep them in the office, so it’s super easy to add hot water to and enjoy on a chilly day.
Miso soup may traditionally be an accompaniment or starter, but adding more ingredients can make it a main in itself. Koh Grill & Sushi Bar serve a great Asari Miso Soup that includes fresh clams in a much bigger and more filling portion.
Koh Grill & Sushi Bar: 435 Orchard Road, #04-21 Wisma Atria Shopping Centre, Singapore 238877 | Tel: +65 9180 3805
3. Pig’s Organ Soup
If offal is your thing, a steaming bowl of pig’s organ soup would take any weather blues away. With a mainly Teochew influence, the clear soup is made from boiling pig offal like liver, heart, intestines, stomach, tongue and pork meat slices.
The soup is then refined with salted vegetables, chopped onion leaves and pepper. The dish may be an acquired taste given the ingredients but it sure hits the spot if it’s up your street.
If you’re craving a bowl that won’t disappoint, try Yu Ji Pig’s Organ Soup at Whampoa Makan Place. The soup is just the right amount of sweet and salty with a peppery flavour, and the offal has a well-cooked texture.
Yu Ji Pig’s Organ Soup Herbal Mutton Soup: Whampoa Makan Place, 90 Whampoa Drive, #01-81, Singapore 320090 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 10.30am to 11pm
2. Sup Tulang
Sup tulang, or ‘bone soup’ isn’t technically a soup, but when you’re supposed to use a straw to slurp up all the goodness, I’d say it qualifies for this list. This Indian dish features mutton bones cooked in a sweet crimson broth that is pure comfort food on a rainy day.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty to enjoy this dish as part of the joy is sucking out the buttery bone marrow. The broth/sauce is rich and best soaked up with some bread.
For a tried and tested favourite, head to Haji Kadir & M Baharudeen, where even Anthony Bourdain has enjoyed a plate of this local delight.
Haji Kadir & M Baharudeen: Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road, #B1-13/15, Singapore 199583
1. Mushroom Soup
The ultimate comfort soup for the monsoon season has got to be a classic mushroom soup. So many of us spent our childhoods with a mug of the Campbell variety and even now, it’s my go-to on a rainy day.
I’d say mushroom soup is a universal favourite and features on many menus in Singaporean restaurants as the soup of the day. There’s just something about the creamy texture, herbs and mushroom bits that warm the heart.
Everyone enjoys soup differently but The Soup Spoon has got their version of mushroom soup down pat. The Velvety Mushroom Stroganoff is stew-like and chunky and everything that I think a mushroom soup should be. Don’t take my word for it though, try a bowl at one of their many outlets island-wide.
The monsoon season spells frizzy hair, wet shoes and a potential dampen on the spirit, but these souper soups are there to make everything (or at least lunch) slightly better. Which is your favourite?
Related guide: Best Soya Beancurd Singapore