There is something inherently comforting about a steaming bowl of soup.
Whether rich and hearty on a cold winter's day or light and refreshing on a warm summer's day, soups bring comfort to the body and the soul. The universal culinary delight is found in virtually every culture, each with its own distinct ingredients, flavors, and traditions.
When it comes to New Orleans cuisine, soup may not be the first item that comes to mind, but make no mistake, the soups in this city are just as delicious as the other amazing dishes that people know and love.
Soups of the Crescent City often mirror the blending of French, Spanish, African, Cajun, and Creole culinary traditions, drawing a variety of ingredients from those different cultures. Local chefs and home cooks continue innovating with traditional recipes, creating new and inventive soups while honoring the city's culinary roots.
Fusion cuisine and the blending of different culinary traditions have led to a wide array of soups being enjoyed in New Orleans today. The current variety of soups in New Orleans is a testament to the city's multicultural heritage, resulting in its dynamic culinary landscape that continues to evolve and delight food enthusiasts worldwide.
From broths to bisques to pho, soups have become a favorite go-to for many locals and visitors. Here are some of the city's favorite soups and where you can find them.
Made from the American snapping turtle (cowan in Cajun French), turtle soup is a delicious dish typically served in fine dining establishments. This soup is a tasty blend of beef stock, local ingredients, sherry, and, of course, the cowan.
Restaurants such as Commander's Palace, Brennan's, and Galatoire's are known for their turtle soups, which precedes many of their meals. While not originally birthed in New Orleans, the city's version of the turtle soup is by far the most famous.
Creole and Cajun Bisques
A bisque is a smooth, creamy soup typically made from shellfish such as lobster, crab, shrimp, or crawfish. The term "bisque" originally referred to a highly seasoned soup made from the strained broth of crustaceans, but modern bisques can also include vegetables and other ingredients.
Lump crab meat, flavorful corn, heavy cream and loads of ingredients make up the New Orleans classic soup—Creole corn and crab bisque. This warm and hearty soup is a favorite in many local households and can be found in restaurants such as Landry's Seafood House. Another restaurant known for its appetizing bisque is Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar. Their crawfish and crab bisque is one of a kind.
Yakamein is a unique, mouthwatering dish that originated and popularized in New Orleans' African American communities. The noodle soup is typically made with beef, although variations with other proteins including chicken or shrimp can also be found.
While the story of its origin is not entirely clear, Yakamein is clearly a hybrid of Asian and African American culinary traditions and has been passed down in the Black community from generation to generation.
Generally made from a combination of beef, well-seasoned broth, noodles, a boiled egg, and garnished with green onions, Yakamein is traditionally made at home, but you can also find it in local corner stores, mom-and-pop shops, and restaurants around the city including Olympia Food Store, Baby's Snack Box, The Real Pie Man, and, of course Chef Linda, the Yakamein Lady.
Oyster-artichoke soup is a staple in New Orleans. The classic New Orleans dish was created in the mid-1960s by Chef Warren LeRuth at his Gretna restaurant LeRuth's Gourmet Foods. Its unique blend of oysters, celery, onions, and heavy cream blended in a white roux makes it a delectable soup.
Today you can find this soup in a number of locations. Restaurants such as Mandina's have been serving up the traditional version of oyster-artichoke soup for quite some time. But, in recent years, there are several other versions of the soup that have been created and tried.
While not local to New Orleans, this Vietnamese masterpiece has made quite the impression on the city and has become a popular dish for locals of all nationalities.
Pho was introduced to the Big Easy back in the 1970s when many Vietnamese people came to New Orleans during and after the Vietnam War. Creating communities in New Orleans East and on the Westbank, both areas continue to hold the places where you'll find the best pho in the city. Restaurants such as Pho Bang, Ba Chi Canteen, Tan Dinh, and Lilly's Café are only a few of the many amazing Vietnamese restaurants around the Greater New Orleans area.
The noodle soup consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, usually beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga), and is known for its complex flavors, aromatic spices, and the balance of the ingredients. Pho is easily one of the most comforting and satisfying meals worldwide.
As this list of some of the city's favorite soups comes to a close, some may wonder why gumbo is not on this list. It's simple. Gumbo is more of a stew and is simply in a league all its own. With that said, there are so many other worthy soups in the city from the constantly sprouting ramen locations to the one-of-a-kind soups that embody the city's traditions and cultures. The soups in this city are all certainly worth a taste.