Friday Five: A definitive soup ranking


Jessica Wang

An illustration of a can of “Harker’s Condensed Tomato Soup.” Harker Aquila’s assistant opinions editor Jessica Wang shares a ranking of the best five soups.

It’s believed that the first bowl of soup was prepared around 20,000 B.C. However, my most poignant memory regarding soup is closer to 2022 A.D. It was a fateful Tuesday. For lunch that day, we were served hamburgers. This was fine, because although I don’t like hamburgers, they were altogether inoffensive as food, and I simply drank extra cranberry juice that day.

However, the problem arose the next day. As I got into my trusted soup line, hoping — nay — praying to see my beloved lentils or maybe even potato soup (I was desperate that day), I was struck with the horrifying sight of what was written on the namecard of the Soup of the Day: “Hamburger Soup.” No, it couldn’t be. They couldn’t have simply… reused the previous day’s lunch and put it into liquid form and served it as a soup, could they? But I was desperate. I was hungry. I picked up the ladle and spooned myself a bowl full of Hamburger soup.

As I sat down outside to eat my rather sad meal, I was almost disappointed to find that the hamburger soup was not made purely of the remnants of the previous day’s hamburgers. When I shoved my spoon into the disconcertingly thick liquid, it was full of an ingredient that did not belong in hamburgers, much less Hamburger soup:


I tried my best to finish the bowl, but my stomach was growling for the rest of the day. But what about soups that are actually palatable? Perhaps even enjoyable? Here is a list of my top five favorite soups. 

5. French onion soup

Coming in hot, steaming, boiling, even, at number five: French onion soup. French onion soup is a rich, flavorful and hearty soup that can be very satisfying on a cold day, or any day. It is made with caramelized onions, which are sweet and savory, and can add a lot of depth to the soup, often topped with a piece of toasted bread and a layer of melted cheese, which adds an additional layer of flavor and texture to the soup. Being able to be made with a variety of broth bases, such as beef, chicken or vegetable, it allows for flexibility in flavor and dietary needs. 

However, it can be high in fat and calories, especially if it is made with a lot of butter and cheese, as well as time-consuming to make, as the onions need to be caramelized properly in order for the soup to be flavorful. At times, the flavor of caramelized onions is too strong or overpowering.

4. Lentil Soup

Though I’ve only had it twice in my life, lentil soup has disappointed me zero of the two times. It has a slightly earthy and nutty flavor. The soup is often seasoned with various herbs and spices, such as cumin, turmeric and ginger, which add depth and complexity to the flavor. Lentil soup is also versatile, and adding leftovers (non-hamburger-related) is a good way to add further flavor into the meal.

But lentil soup can be unappealing due to the texture of the lentils. They can have a mushy texture when cooked, which some people may find unappetizing. Additionally, if the soup is not seasoned or prepared properly, it may have a bland or uninteresting flavor. Lentils and other legumes are known to cause flatulence and stomach discomfort in some people, especially when they are not used to eating them.

3. Tomato Basil Soup

A classic combination of flavors that many people enjoy, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and other nutrients. They also have a natural sweetness that is balanced by the savory taste of basil. When these ingredients are combined in a soup, they create a flavorful and comforting dish. Tomato soup is often associated with comforting and warm memories, making it a comforting and satisfying meal. Paired with a nicely toasted grilled cheese sandwich, it is a meal suitable for a king.

Yet some people might not enjoy the flavor of tomato basil soup because they find it too acidic or too sweet. Some may find the basil flavor overpowering and not well-balanced with the taste of tomatoes; if the soup is made with canned tomatoes, it could have a metallic taste; if the recipe is not executed well, it could turn out too watery or too thick — both can affect the flavor of the soup. The taste of the soup hinges on the quality of the tomatoes used, which can at times turn out badly.

2. Miso Soup

Miso soup is a nutritious choice because it is made from fermented soybeans, which are a good source of protein and contain beneficial probiotics. Additionally, the soup is typically made with a variety of other ingredients such as seaweed, tofu and green onions, which provide additional nutritional benefits. 

The soup is savory and slightly salty, with a depth of flavor that comes from the fermented miso paste. The nutty and umami flavor of the miso paste adds a unique taste to the dish. Miso soup can vary in flavor depending on the type of miso paste used, as different types of miso have different flavor profiles. The broth is usually made from dashi, which is a stock made from kelp and bonito fish, which adds a subtle fish flavor. A solid choice, pretty difficult to make wrong. Even packaged versions are delicious!

1. Egg Drop (Tomato) Soup

Is it cheating to put tomatoes on the list twice? No, because they are simply the superior fruit and vegetable. The umbrella term of egg drop soup already lends itself to a plethora of variations, be it chicken, beef or vegetable stock. After the soup base is brought to a boil, beaten eggs are streamed into the pot. A versatile dish meant to be enjoyed under any occasion. 

My favorite of the soup bases has got to be my mom’s special tomato soup: rendered down, soft-to-the-touch tomatoes mixed with nothing more than water, salt and sometimes MSG, the broth is refreshing and light. When a steaming, beautiful bowl of egg drop tomato soup is placed before my eyes, with the silk yellow strands of egg dancing in the velvety redness of the broth, I feel as though I finally am home. The soup, though it may seem simple, reminds me of being sick in bed with my mom rushing to cook for me amidst her work, a small act of love through the pain.