That beautiful bowl of soup? You have to order it two hours ahead—perhaps owing to the fact that it contains an entire chicken. Samgyetang, as the dish is called, consists of a whole bird stuffed with glutinous rice, sweet jujubes, and earthy ginseng and is typically eaten in Korea as a summertime dish—it’s thought to be a good way to beat the heat. But at Tofu Village in Marietta, where it’s a specialty of the house, it’s served year-round, worth a little planning ahead and—depending on where you’re coming from—worth the drive.
Likewise, these other chicken soups, each a meal in and of itself. These bowls span countries and culinary traditions but share crucial characteristics: enveloping flavors, enchanting aromas, peak comfort.
1. The elementally satisfying chicken noodle soup at Goldbergs Fine Foods (various locations) is about as stripped down as it gets—little more than noodles, a few vegetables, and tender meat in a savory broth—and great for a chilly day. Matzo ball: optional but highly recommended.
2. Turmeric contributes to the vivid golden-green color of the soto ayam at Indonesian halal restaurant Warung (Doraville); redolent of lemongrass and makrut lime, the lightly spicy broth is packed with chicken, a hard-boiled egg, translucent rice noodles, and assorted vegetables. Shrimp crackers are served alongside as a garnish.
3. One of the highlights of the famously lengthy menu at Food Terminal (Chamblee, Westside) is curry laksa—a coconut-rich brew, sold at stalls in Malaysia and Singapore, that has been described as a love child of Indian curries and Chinese noodle soups.
4. Closely associated with Bogotá, Colombia, ajiaco gets its slightly vegetal flavor from guasca, an herb that grows in the mountains. It gets its heartiness from shredded chicken, potatoes, and corn on the cob—and it’s on the weekend menu at Las Delicias de la Abuela (Duluth, Doraville), where it’s served with a small plate of fried plantain, arepas, avocado, and rice. Make sure to get a side of hot sauce.
5. Ford Fry’s Tex-Mex emporium Superica (various locations) does a lot of things well—including sopa de tortilla, a blood-red broth spiked with ancho chiles, cilantro, chunks of chicken, and avocado and served under a shower of fried tortilla strips.
This article appears in our January 2022 issue.