What Soups and Congees Are There in Vietnamese Cuisine Other Than Pho – see the List!

Bird’s nest soup

Do you know what the most expensive soup is in Vietnamese cuisine – highly valued and sometimes referred to as the ‘Caviar of the East’, it’s called bird’s nest soup. Aka sup yen sao, bird’s nest soup is a high-class, fine-dining Vietnamese meal made an edible bird’s nest. The primary ingredient is a swiftlet bird’s nest which to buy costs anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 by the kilogram. A single bowl of this soup is valued at up to $100!


Chao is a variation on traditional congee. For those who haven’t had it, ‘congee’ is a type of porridge usually made from rice. It’s very common in Indian cooking. In Vietnamese cooking, differences exist in the broth and meat used, which typically include duck, offal, fish, and other seafoods. When chicken is used, chao becomes ‘chao ga’. It’s the latter which is one of more popular varieties of chao worldwide.

Chao tom

Chao tom is a mix of barbecued shrimp paste or a similarly ingrediented mousse. Chao tom sometimes looks more like a salad but it’s still often included under congees and soups. The shrimp’s cooked on a sugar cane stick and is usually presented during large celebrations i.e. weddings, holidays, or community events.

Sup mang cua

A common theme in Vietnamese soups is the presence of seafood. The meats provided to Vietnam on the coast of the country played a key role in crafting the culture of cuisine. In this pattern, sup mang cua is an asparagus and crab soup that is commonly served at banquet dinners as the first dish. It’s heavy on the fish taste and if you don’t like asparagus, this is a soup probably not in your wheelhouse.

Thit kho tau

Thit kho tau is a type of soup or stew that takes fatty pork and eggs, and then braises them in coconut milk. Thit kho tau is common in southern Vietnam cooking and is a traditional food of Lunar New Year celebrations. Prior to indulging in it, thit kho tau is traditionally offered to older family members and deceased ancestors. Rice is usually served alongside this dish.

Chao long

Chao long is a type of rice porridge usually including pork intestine, liver, gizzard, heart, and kidney. In North American culture, these parts of the animal are rarely eaten. Inspired by French cuisine, we use as much of an animal as is possible. Food waste isn’t really a thing if you do Vietnamese cooking right. Chao long is also referred to as Vietnamese pork organ porridge, common to almost every corner of the inner city, and is one of the most common street foods there is.

Nhung dam

Nhung dam is a fire pot that blends slices of rare beef with seafood cooked in a sour broth. Vietnamese restaurants serve nhung dam with thin rice vermicelli noodles, fresh vegetables, dipping sauces, and rice spring roll wrapper. Although the sour broth can be a little striking to people who aren’t used to the taste, nhung dam is a dish that is sure to impress and is a dinner party favourite.

Canh chua

Canh chua is Vietnamese sour soup. Though it can be customized in many ways, traditional ingredients include fish, pineapples, tomatoes, herbs, bean sprouts, tamarind, and vegetables. The sour broth is typically worked on for hours and is really what makes the dish. If you want to serve something unexpected in the scope of Vietnamese cuisine, canh chua is an extremely popular tamarind-flavored meal that’s ready to please. The key to a proper canh chua – some tamarind mixed with a little hot water, stirred, and added to the soup.

Traditional Vietnamese congee

Taken from Indian cuisine, in traditional Vietnamese eating, rice porridge known as congee is served as a side dish with many favourites. Congee can be mixed with meat, fish, and other flavorings. It is common to give this to someone who is ill with a cold or flu, as a type of comfort food. Congee, like pho and similar comforts, have a lot of variations which can affect taste, thickness, texture, and other elements in the cooking.

What is your favourite Vietnamese soup or congee?

Some of these soups and congees you won’t be able to find in Toronto or anywhere in Canada. The bird’s nest soup, for example, is in large part too rare and expensive to make it feasible to prepare and serve in Canada.

The difficulties in method of preparation or acquiring the ingredients, as well as the already-present preferences of Canadian eaters, have pushed many meals like these off main menus of Vietnamese restaurants.

Despite this, you still have quality Vietnamese cuisine in the form of pho, rice porridge, and other soups and congees. A notable part of Vietnamese culture, these dinner options make up a sizeable portion of what’s eaten by Vietnam immigrants and families in Toronto, Ontario. For quality Vietnamese cuisine in Toronto, visit TorontoPHO.