Cold World Comfort

International Inspiration for Hot Soups on a Chilly Day

BY Peter Viele

Indian Sardee
Indian Sardee

Let’s face it: Wrightsville Beach has it pretty easy when it comes to winter. But when a nor’easter blows in 40-degree temperatures, the salty humidity can make it feel like we are aboard a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska.

For those bone-chilling days — and the one actual snow day that occurs here every few years — nothing warms up body and soul like a good cup of hot soup.

Unfortunately, soup doesn’t always elicit thoughts of epicurean delight. To spice up the cup, go on a virtual culinary adventure and look for recipes from destinations that aren’t so mild for inspiration.

The northern coastal regions of Spain, like Galicia, deliver an ample supply of blustery cold, wild and wet weather; Scandinavia offers short, dark and frosty winter days; Mongolia has wild, snowy mountainscapes; and northern India has some of the most extreme, high altitude, frozen mountain tops in the world. The coldest places in the world are sure to deliver soul-warming soups.

These multicultural recipes from chilly, distant locales can be a fun way to break up the monotony of good old chicken noodle soup and chili. Make your family feel like they just trekked off the trail into an exotic, mountainside chalet by drawing inspiration from around the world on the next cold blast with some adventurous soups.

Scandinavian Grouse Soup 

{or Chicken soup} 

Serves 8

Broth ingredients

  • 2 whole grouse or pheasants, or 1 large chicken
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 12-15 juniper berries, crushed
  • 12-15 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried lovage (or parsley)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ½-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • ½-ounce other dried mushrooms

Soup ingredients

  • 1 cup rye berries or pearl barley
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin discs
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1-2 tsp smoked salt

Garnish ingredients

  • 1-2 radishes, sliced thin
  • 2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped


For broth, add water, a tablespoon of salt and the grouse or chicken to a stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Remove birds and cut off the breast meat and set aside. Return the rest of the birds to the pot and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Pull the birds out again and strip off all the remaining meat. Set aside all the meat in a container and return the bones to the pot. Cook for 1 hour. Add the remaining broth ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer for 1 hour. Place a sieve over another large pot and strain the broth through.

In another pot, submerge the rye berries in water. Add a healthy pinch of salt and boil until tender. Put the original empty stock pot over medium-high heat and add the butter and the sliced onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the broth back to this pot and add the sliced carrots. Add the peas and the reserved meat and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the smoked salt. Drain the rye berries and divide them among individual bowls. Ladle the soup over the grain. Garnish with paper-thin slices of radish and chopped parsley.

Spanish Chorizo & Fideo Soup 

Serves 6


  • 1 cup fideo pasta (found in Mexican aisle or substitute with vermicelli cut into half pieces)
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 5 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup Spanish chorizo diced
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper


In a large pot, add butter and sauté the chorizo. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until browned. In a large bowl, combine the water and tomato juice, then add to pot. Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika and cilantro; bring to a light boil. Add the pasta and cook for 5 to 7 minutes continuously moving it until it is cooked. Serve immediately.

Mongolian Soup 

{Guriltai Shul — Mongolian Noodle Soup}

Serves 6


  • 1 cup onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. sirloin, cut into strips
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup tasalsan guril (fried noodles – see recipe)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Fried noodle ingredients

  • 2 3/8 cups AP flour
  • ¾ cup and 1 Tbsp of water
  • Canola oil for frying


In large pot, add oil and sauté the onions and carrots. Add sirloin strips and sear until meat is cooked through. Add salt, pepper and stock. Simmer on low-medium heat for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls garnished with the fried noodles.

Fried noodle preparation

Mix flour and water until dough forms. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Separate the dough into three pieces and roll each out to a thin sheet. Cut the sheets into 3-inch strips. Add enough canola oil to large frying pan or fryer that noodles are coated. Heat oil over medium-high heat and fry the pieces until golden brown. 

Indian Sardee  {Winter Soup}

Serves 8


  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green chilies, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 parsnip, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ¼ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


Rinse the pearl barley and cook in a large stock pot for 20 minutes. When it is tender, drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-bottom pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilies, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric and sauté until fragrant and the seeds start to crackle. Add the onion and garlic, then cook for 5 to 8 minutes until soft. Stir in the parsnip, butternut and sweet potato and mix thoroughly, making sure the vegetables are fully coated with the oil and spices. Sprinkle in the paprika and ground coriander and stir again. Add the lentils, pearl barley, tomatoes and 8 cups of vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the vegetables are tender. When the lentils are tender, stir in the chopped coriander, ginger and lemon juice.

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