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How People Drink Soup Around the World

Soup’s on. Seven people, seven countries, seven soups—and not one single serving from a can. Great Big Story senior producer Beryl Shereshewsky searched far and wide to find how people enjoy their soup around the world. Among them: chanko nabe, a soup sumo wrestlers in Tokyo eat to bulk up; a bird’s nest soup in San Pascual, Philippines, that, as its name implies, is made out of bird’s nests; and ya-ka-mein, a soup served in New Orleans that is said to cure hangovers. Beryl also whips up her own soup using just two simple ingredients: beer and cheese.

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Japan

Chanko nabe

Chanko nabe is a balanced dish made for sumo wrestlers to gain strength. Satoshi Kitayama, a former sumo wrestler himself, has been cooking chano since he was 15 years old. He learned the recipe from senior wrestlers, and now serves the dish to anyone who wants to eat like a sumo star at his restaurant, Kotogaume.

“It is so nice when customers say, ‘Sumo wrestlers eat such delicious meals,’” Satoshi says.

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Taiwan

Beef noodle soup

In Taiwan, you can find beef noodle soup shops on every street. Generally, you will pay about 100 to 200 NTD [3 to 6 USD] for a bowl. But, at Niu Ba Ba, one bowl can cost you up to 10,000 NTD [333 USD]. But with the high price tag comes high quality—the dish used Wagyu beef and specially-made noodles.

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Philippines

Bird's nest soup

Eddie “Macoy” Espares shares his home with 80,000 birds, all in the name of soup. These tiny black-and-brown birds are known as “swiftlets.” They create nests from hardened saliva, which is the very special ingredient to make bird’s nest soup, a Filipino delicacy. Usually, people find swiftlet nests in caves, but Eddie thinks his home is easier to access. “There’s just a door,” he says.

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Thailand

Neua tune

Some things get better with age. Including soup. That’s the thinking at Wattana Panich. This family-run restaurant in Bangkok has been serving soup with the same broth for 45 years. Fresh meat like raw sliced beef, tripe and other organs is added daily. But any broth leftover is preserved at the end of each day and used in the next day’s soup. It’s an ancient cooking method that gives the soup a unique flavor and aroma.

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USA

Ya-ka-mein

Partied too hard in New Orleans last night? Of course you did. Fear not, with one quick call to Ms. Linda, help will soon be on the way. She’ll mix up her mother’s secret recipe for Ya-Ka-Mein—a noodle soup that blends Asian and African cuisines, soothes the stomach and suspends the pain.

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Ghana

Fufu and nkrakra

Fufu is a pounded soft paste made from cooked cassava and unripened plantain that gets eaten in a soup, called nkrakra. It takes two people to prepare the fufu—one to mold the paste, and the other to pound. Evelyn Acolatse learned the recipe from her mother, and now she’s passing it on to her daughters.

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Colombia

Changua

In Colombia, Marcela Arango says that it is tradition to have soup or broth with breakfast. Her changua is a milk-based soup that is served hot, with an egg and a bun known as an almojábana. It is finally topped with shredded cilantro, farmer’s cheese and chopped scallions.

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