n brisk days and cold nights, a steaming bowl of hearty soup is exactly what the body calls for. Soups can soothe, replenish and – with enough chilli – act as one of the best hangover cures you can ask for. With this is mind, we have trawled Melbourne for satisfying soups that stave off the cold and keep hunger at bay.
Soup of the Day at Mixed Business
Come rain or shine, Clifton Hill’s Mixed Business is a welcoming cafe with a menu that keeps locals coming back for more. The soup is on constant rotation, but it’s as reliable as the rest of the menu. The soup of the day when we visit is a warming roast parsnip and sage soup that comes with a generous serving of buttered grainy bread. The wonderfully seasonal, smooth and thick soup is slightly sweet and is finished with a splosh of sage oil and a dollop of cream. For $10, this is a lunch that fills the belly and warms the soul.
Soba Chirashi Set at Hako
At $23.50 this soup combination was the most expensive we tried, but we promise, it’s worth every bite. Only available as a lunch option, the Soba Chirashi Set is a set of four dishes beautifully presented in Japanese ceramics on a lacquered tray. Buckwheat noodles are served in a freshly made salty broth and garnished with a smoky-flavoured tempura flake, which imparts an incredibly more-ish flavour into what is quite a simple dish. Delicate pieces of sashimi on rice with pickled ginger and wasabi add some bulk to this meal, and a simple but deliciously dressed side salad balance the meal. A small offering of pickled vegetables can be nibbled on between melting bites of fish and slurps of soup.
Soup of the Day at Salford Lad’s Club
Ensconced among the warehouses and old factory buildings that line the industrial end of Port Melbourne is the Salford Lad’s Club. The cafe has a distinctly male feel, from the polished concrete floors, skateboard display and hearty, ever-changing lunch menu. The soup of the day on this visit is a cream of mushroom with croutons and a cheese, herb and garlic baguette. And while cream of mushroom may sound a little 70s, the soup is surprisingly hearty. Textured, well seasoned and subtly creamy, it is topped off by that cheesy, chunky baguette. For $9, this soup will warm your cockles and satisfy any hunger.
Beef Pho at Pho Chu The
It’s impossible to do a story on soup without including the always cheap and often delicious Vietnamese pho (pronounced pher). Victoria Street is a popular destination to find this soup, which in Vietnam is generally served for breakfast, rather than lunch and dinner, as most of us enjoy it in Australia. Whether you’re suffering from the dreaded lurgy, a killer hangover or you simply have a hankering, Pho Chu The’s slow-cooked beef broth – flavoured with star anise and cinnamon, poured over slippery rice noodles and topped with thinly sliced beef brisket – is a winning winter warmer. The stock is gragrant, the noodles are hand made and the beef is added to the soup raw so it cooks as you eat, leaving it meltingly tender. Add more heat by sprinkling over sliced red chillies and play with the base flavour by adding Vietnamese mint, squirts of lemon, crunchy bean sprouts, chilli oil and fish sauce.