sOUpS aRe SeXy!

From ramen to consommé, our food columnist makes a case for the humble staple

Words by Iona Judd

I recently returned home from a trip to 37°C South Africa, which coincided with a brief heatwave in the UK. I had visions of parks hazy with disposable BBQ smoke and men lining up to prod a sausage authoritatively around a grill. I touched down to a cold, drizzly and miserable London reality. And whilst I mourned for the heat, it did turn my mind to something warm and comforting: Soup.

Discussing this with my boyfriend, his reaction was “But soup isn’t very sexy.” So here I am on a mission to correct that train of thought.

It’s true, when Brits think of soup, we immediately imagine someone wrapped up like an onion in the depths of winter. Layers of jumpers, perhaps a scarf, definitely a pair of thick socks. But if we forget about the season that soups are synonymous with in the UK, and instead think of the flavours, they can be incredibly sexy.

wHEn BRitS THiNk Of sOUp, We iMMeDIaTELy iMAgiNE sOmEONe wRApPPeD Up LikE An ONiON

Soups are enjoyed the world over, with various – if not all – cultures having their own offering. This means that the ratio of people wearing thick knitwear whilst consuming them is probably quite low. With that in mind, I’ve written about some of the sexiest knitwear- eschewing soups that Earth has to offer.


Does the Mexican quesabirria taco count as a soup? I think so. Inspired by the birria stews of Jalisco, tacos are filled with meat that has been slow cooked for hours, and served with these meat cooking juices – or consommé – to dip into. Rich and smoky, this consommé is like a gravy, just with better, punchier flavours. And, when mixed with fresh coriander and diced onion, chefs kiss.

Sexy rating: 7/10


Japan has ramen, one of the ultimate soups. The thick unctuous broths, often made from simmering meat bones for hours, have such complexity of flavour – salty, umami, spicy, earthy. Their velvety textures are complimented by the bite of ‘al dente’ or ‘futsuu’ noodles, and a myriad of toppings. Ramen is theatrical in its consumption. The loud slurping of the noodles is proposed to have two effects: firstly, to cool the hot soup down before it potentially burns the roof of your mouth, but more importantly to enhance the layers of flavours within. There’s something sensual about this method of eating. Perhaps it’s the perfect ‘O’ shape your mouth forms when creating the noodle vacuum, or perhaps it’s the loud lip-smacking noise. It’s certainly not the moment hot soup inevitably splashes back into your eyeball.

Sexy rating: 9/10

RAmeN iS THeaTRicAL iN ITs cONsUmpTiON


The consommés of Mexico, however, are wildly different from their gastronomic forebears. In classic French cuisine, a good consommé is considered a work of art, the pure liquid the result of patient ‘degreasing’ which takes place over several hours. The final product is extraordinary. The most unassuming bowls of crystal-clear soup become explosions of concentrated flavour with an unparalleled mouthfeel. This idea of mouthfeel essentially equates to texture and is a key sensory element when paired with taste and smell to determine the overall flavour (and your reaction) to a food item. Consommé is like drinking silk, and given that such a considerable amount of raw ingredients yield so little, you can understand why it’s considered such a refined dish.

Sexy rating: 10/10


I’ve somehow written more words on soup than I ever thought possible, but what could be more fitting to round this off with than the sexiest soup of them all: sopa de ajo (garlic soup), my first recipe for this column and the embodiment of bold flavour. OK, maybe it will ward off every potential suitor you meet for the next 48 hours, but trust me, this is one to make – regardless of your knitwear layering status.

Sexy rating: 13/10


SOPA DE AJO – Spanish garlic soup

• 4 Tablespoons olive oil
• 20 garlic cloves, skin kept on
• 100g cooking chorizo, cut into little pieces
• Dash of sherry (optional)
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• ½ a teaspoon smoked
• Spanish paprika
• 1 litre good chicken stock
• 4 eggs
• 8 slices ciabatta or 4 sourdough, stale or toasted and torn into pieces
• Sea salt and black pepper
• Squeeze of lemon
• Handful of chopped parsley to serve

Heat the oil over a low heat and add the garlic. Gently fry for 15-20 mins, stirring often, until the skins are golden brown but not dark, and the flesh inside is soft. Remove from the oil and leave to cool. Squeeze out the caramelised flesh (discarding the skins) and puree – you can do this with the side of a knife, a pestle and mortar or a fork. Meanwhile, add the chorizo to the pan and fry until crisp and caramelised. Add the thyme and fry for a few seconds, then the pureed garlic. Deglaze with your dash of sherry if using. Stir well, add the paprika. and finally add the chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and season to taste. About 2 minutes before serving, poach the egg in the soup and add the bread. Taste once more and serve immediately.

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