Best Soups in Melbourne
Where to get the best soups in Melbourne? Check out our favourite soup destinations.
Talking with Ben Forehan Head Chef and owner at Bossy Boots Cafe, there are several simple essentials of soup making that need to be adhered to for great nourishing soups. More and more customers are looking for a soup that will actually be a meal in itself, not a pre-cursor to something else. Here are 5 simple essentials for great nourishing soup -
1. Hearty, Not Watered Down!
How many times have you ordered pumpkin soup to find it watery and weak. Soup should be hearty. Sometimes you suspect the soup has been diluted at some places; that the kitchen have made it then poured 2 litres of water into the mix. Says Ben, "A thin watery soup just doesn't satisfy your hunger. You may as well drink a glass of water. You need to walk away from the table after eating a bowl of soup feeling nourished and satisfied."
2. Great Stock Base
A key to great soups is a great stock base, including chicken, mushroom or vegetable broth. By simmering vegetables and adding a few herbs and spices, for example, the flavour of the soup is enhanced. Ben demands that each of his chefs at Bossy Boots Cafe is adept at cooking soup, with mastery over the stock and flavour profile. Bossy Boots adds ingredients like beans and lentils to some of its soups for greater protein. Also, too much salt is not desirable and a common mistake in preparing a broth.
3. Full of Nutrition
Soups are part of a trend for healthier eating and should be full of nutrition. At Bossy Boots Cafe healthy soups and salads are extremely popular, pretty much all year round. Customers aren't looking these days for heavy oily soups, and as Ben says, they need to feel nourished. Beans, lentils, carrots, onions, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, the list goes on...
4. Flavoursome and Well Balanced
Ever started to eat a soup and wondered at how bland it can be. Dull tasteless soup is boring and unexciting. Customers are looking for modern compelling flavour combinations with natural flavours including real chunks of vegetables and meat. A key is quality seasonal ingredients sourced from trustworthy and premium suppliers. The South Indian Red Lentil and Tomato soup at Bossy Boots Cafe has a fiery quality about it that draws you in with its rustic flavours of rich red lentils and tomatoes. This is tasty food for the health conscious. Comfort food doesn't have to be fatty and oily! Flavours also need to be well balanced so that one element doesn't dominate and spoil the taste. The World Loves Melbourne is not excited about most of the supermarket soups and packet soups - give us fresh and seasonal any day.
5. Consistency - Well Stirred
This may seem obvious. Disturbingly, when you purchase soup from some places they fail to stir the large soup pot and all the ingredients end up sitting on the bottom of the pot. You watch staff dip in the ladle and to your disappointment it's an empty catch! You are left with a bowl of broth with just a couple of vegetables, for example. This has happened to The World Loves Melbourne several times (especially with take away soups). At Bossy Boots Cafe they serve soup in large bowls and stir the soup each time to make sure there are a decent amount of ingredients in the bowl (to reflect the profile of the soup).
We've searched high and low and these are are favourites.
Little Sunflower Cafe - Elwood - Lamb Shank Soup and others (daily)
Soups are not what they used to be; they are now an art form and a hearty meal in themselves. We love authentic soup which is not watered down. We appreciate chunky soups with generous ingredients. We appreciate nutritious soups. And we appreciate innovative interesting soups.
Little Sunflower Cafe has evolved in its menu and is now offering cracking soups and curries as we move into the colder months. With hits like its Turmeric pancakes, granola breakfast, and its Buddha bowls, this cafe is the real deal; not paying token deference to healthy eating. The soups and curries are equally as healthy as other popular items.
The new soups and curries are packed with nutrition. The World Loves Melbourne sampled the fare and came away feeling a million dollars for the rest of the day. Sure we also love our burgers, but this is the kind of food we need day in day out. We think these dishes can appear in some "best of" lists in Melbourne.
Take the stunning Quinoa risotto with cauliflower, beetroot, spinach and goats cheese. This risotto uses quinoa and cauliflower rather than standard rice. Quinoa gives the risotto a lightness we appreciated, not stodgy at all. And the combination is just so delicious. Goats cheese is a superb accompaniment on top of the risotto. We've been raving about this dish ever since.
Angie has a dream whereby healthy food is not just an exception but becomes "mainstream" eating. With food like this, we agree! Healthy and delicious!
We were also able to sample a compelling delicious soup of Lamb shank and pearl barley soup served with Dench bakery sourdough. This was an outstanding soup; who doesn't love lamb shank and pearl barley? Yet it was done so well. There was a viscosity to the soup; not thin and watery but a tad thick. This was a hearty soup indeed; Little Sunflower bringing us warmth through its soup.
Little Sunflower is also featured in The Wellness Book Victoria with a select list of healthy style cafes (and is selling the book for $25).
Little Sunflower Cafe is one of the hottest cafes in Melbourne right now. Grant and Angie have hit the high notes with their whole foods, naturally ethos, great coffee and service in Ormond Road Elwood. The cafe is usually packed and the vibe is of a community feel and a place of warmth, just like the sunflower.
Bossy Boots Cafe - Brighton - South Indian Red Lentil and Tomato Soup and others
As the seasons change to colder weather, soup dishes become a mainstay of the kitchen. Soups have become more sophisticated in recent times with amazing combinations available to diners. Seasonality is a big deal and we are blessed with an abundance of fresh vegetables perfect for soup making, especially as we move through autumn.
The problem is that you don't always get a standout experience everywhere you go when it comes to soup. The World Loves Melbourne has visited some soup specialty places to find that the broth can sometimes be thin and the soup watery. One suspects water has been added to make a few extra bucks. We appreciate the places that don't take shortcuts and serve up hearty soups.
At Bossy Boots Cafe Ben Forehan (Co-Owner, Manager and Chef) and the team pride themselves on serving up 3 top notch soups every day. At Bossy Boots Cafe there are exciting flavour combinations with one vegetarian soup, one puree based soup and one meat based soup available each day. These soups are extremely popular both as eat in and as take away food. With time poor professionals a consideration in Brighton, a large container of soup is the perfect meal solution.
The South Indian Red Lentil and Tomato Soup at Bossy Boots Cafe is hugely popular with rich tones and amazing aroma, and is a great example of a stunning vegetarian soup.
The Thai Pumpkin and Sweet Potato soup is an example of a puree based soup with a hint of spice.
The Minestrone soup is packed with vegetables and is a rich hearty soup.
Chicken and vegetable with quinoa is a nourishing and popular meat based soup.
Lamb shank, pearl barley and vegetables is another hearty rustic soup with compelling flavour combination.
Roasted parsnip and spinach is a wholesome soup with excellent vegetable flavours.
Bistro Guillaume - French Onion Soup
Guillaume Brahimi is the master of soups, particularly French Onion Soup. And we've been able to get the recipe!
I'm stoked to have helped cook this dish under the watchful eye of Guillaume Brahimi at the Tefal Masterclass...
Traditional French onion soup with gruyère croutons
1.6kg onions, sliced
2 small cloves garlic, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 large bay leaf
2 egg yolks
75ml crème fraîche
80g gruyère, grated
80ml dry white wine
1 x litre veal stock
Salt and pepper
½ bunch chives, chopped
Melt butter in the Tefal Heritage Pot Roast over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramel in colour. Discard the herbs.
Whisk the egg yolks into the crème fraîche and whisk until well combined. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
To make the croutons, slice the baguette on an angle into twelve pieces and place on a baking tray. Cook under a medium grill for one minute or until lightly toasted. Sprinkle about a spoonful of gruyère over each slice and return to the grill to melt the cheese.
Add the port and white wine to the onions to deglaze in the Pot Roast (this will ensure all of the flavours are released into the soup). Cook the soup for two minutes or until slightly reduced, then stir in the veal stock and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove the pan from the heat.
To serve, pour the egg yolk and crème fraîche into four bowls and ladle over the onion soup. Place three gruyère croutons on top of each soup and garnish with chives. Serve with extra baguette if required.
Check out The World Loves Melbourne article on the Tefal Masterclass.
La Cucina Di Sandra Cooking School - Richmond - Abruzzo Fish Soup
A hidden gem in Melbourne is Sandra Del Greco's cooking school La Cucina Di Sandra in a converted warehouse in Richmond, exuding charm and conviviality. Exposed brick walls, artwork, Italian music, spectacular kitchen and dining table beautifully set with candles enhance the ambience. A slice of Italy. Sandra emphasises that her classes are a celebration of the fabulous regions of Italy and their cuisines.
On this night it was all about Sandra's home region of Abruzzo; the cuisine and the culture. Sandra says, "From hilly heartland we have the cuisine of the farmers, from the mountains we have the cuisine of the shepherds and from the sea in the coastal towns, the cuisine of the fisherman." We find Sandra's classes to be delightfully bespoke and niche; more than some of the "general" Italian cooking classes around. This is why so many people love it. Soon Sandra will be celebrating her 1000th customer attending her specialised cooking classes.
A strength of Abruzzo is cooking with seafood and Sandra's Fish soup "Minestra di brodo di pesce e broccoli" was a highlight. Monk fish is perfect in soup, so luxe and silky! This is healthy fast food at its best! The aim of Sandra's recipes and classes is that you can cook this delicious rustic Italian regional cuisine at home.
This is a traditional winter soup from Abruzzo. It is called minestra as all minestre have pasta. You can serve the soup with pasta or without for a lighter finger food course. The addition of the broccoli is a typical combination of Abruzzese cuisine where vegetables are often served with fish based dishes, in traditional “Terra e mare” style cuisine. The pasta used can vary as well, you can make homemade pasta or use broken spaghettini often found in packs or break long spaghetti or spaghettoni. Sandra recommends you use good quality pasta imported from Italy such as Monograno Felicetti or Jesce brands to use the cooking method described in the recipe.
Sandra engaged the foodies with her stories of Italy, knowledge of the Italian scene, as well as local knowledge and shopping tips for cooking Italian cuisine.
Man Tong means "full house" in Chinese and this is a place to gather with friends and family. It was certainly popular on this weekday lunchtime with many tables full.
Man Tong - Hot and Sour Soups as well as Soup Dumplings
The World Loves Melbourne loves hot and sour soups! Our lunch at Man Tong Kitchen started with this flavoursome Hot and Sour Soup with Shredded Duck. The broth was thick and had spice and sour in volumes. What also impressed was the amount of other ingredients through the dish including mushroom and a good amount of shredded duck. With a glass of wine this was almost worth the price of the meal already. Also to mention, you would probably savour your wine after this course, given its heat. The matching wine is quality, not cheap plonk.
From one highlight to another, we were then presented with the Xiao Long Bao. These dumplings are a specialty at Man Tong Kitchen and other sister restaurants. As always, when you put one of these beauties in your mouth the tasty soup explodes across the palate. The casing is delicate and the filling quality.
Mr Ramen San - Mid City Arcade, Kyushu Pork Ramen
Mr Ramen San serves up some of Melbourne's best ramen, located in Mid City Arcade in the precinct of Chinatown. The World Loves Melbourne loves ramen and we are excited about this authentic Japanese ramen restaurant! Check out our Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne. Also check out our Best Ramen in Melbourne.
Craving steaming flavour packed ramen? Head Chef Roystan has been trained by Japanese masters in Ramen and has worked in high profile restaurants. According to Roystan, "What you get in Japan in terms of ramen, we produce here. Authenticity." Roystan brings the influences of Kyushu, a charming southern precinct of Japan to Melbourne. The Kyushu style is about pork bones in white broth, signature at Mr Ramen San.
Mr Ramen San delights with a Japanese greeting as you enter, making customers feel welcome from the start. Mr Ramen San boasts several points of difference to the usual ramen scenario. For a start they serve up fresh house made Japanese style noodles daily; for ramen enthusiasts you can tell the quality of noodles and it makes a big difference.
Not only that but unlike other ramen houses, Mr Ramen San will provide you with FREE extra noodles on request! The serves of noodles in the dishes are generous enough as it is; so extra noodles for free is a great innovation for hungry customers!
Charsu Tonkatsu Ramen is a signature dish that rewards you with it's white cloudy broth; intense in flavour having been cooked for over 10 hours. As Ramen lovers know, it's all in the broth! There are no shortcuts in the cooking process (ie no soup stock from any supplier and definitely no MSG) and Roystan has a great passion for cooking authentic ramen. The Charsu roast pork is melt in your mouth, and the seasoned egg, wood ear mushroom and greens give a refreshing accompaniment. The World Loves Melbourne considers this dish the best ramen in Melbourne.
The key is in the cloudy white broth pictured above; this thick cloudy broth is the result of boiling pork bones and collagen over high heat for the 10 hour cooking process, in which it fuses to produce a hearty pork flavour and a creamy consistency! Office workers, you need this in your lunchtime! The staff work hard, stirring the broth for 4-5 hours a day during the cooking process! The consistency of the broth and it's intensity must be perfect. At Mr Ramen San you can choose from different types of soup for your dishes (not every restaurant offers this!). You can "build your own" Ramen if you like, starting with choosing your soup base.
Pho Nom - Emporium Melbourne
Rock star chef Jerry Mai and her brother David are working wonders at Pho Nom in Emporium Melbourne. The pho here is first class in terms of presentation and taste, and you can add your own lemon, chilli, beans and sprouts from the bowls on the counter. The broth is amazing and the meats of excellent quality (I enjoyed rare beef and chicken). And as for the banh mi, it's a sensation...
Pho Nom source quality ingredients from top notch sustainable farms and support the locals. This eatery is a coup for those shopping in Emporium Melbourne or working in the city. And the value is excellent.
Eat-aliano - Windsor - Fish Soup on Fridays
An absolute highlight wis the Fish Soup; and every Friday night there is a version of Fish Soup made. This dish hits the high notes. The soup was a showcasing of quality fresh seafood; the kind of expensive seafood that others may not include in such a dish. Tonight the Fish soup featured Monk fish, large prawns, baby octopus, mussels, clams, and an amazing broth. If anything I would have liked a little more broth, made with prawn bisque and cheery tomatoes, simply because it was excellent, and I enjoyed mopping it up with the bread supplied.
Tasted as good as it looks!