The enchanting world of Vietnamese sweet soup holds an essential part in Vietnam’s cuisine. These sweet treats deliver the sweet flavor of culture that is simply enticing, from old recipes passed down through generations to new variations. Read on to learn about the 10 most exquisite sweet soups to sample on your Vietnam travel journey.
1. About Vietnamese sweet soup
Vietnamese sweet soup is a popular and versatile treat enjoyed in various forms, from puddings to refreshing drinks. It boasts an array of ingredients, including fruits, beans, seeds, and tapioca, often complemented by coconut milk. Traditional recipes have evolved with modern twists, offering a diverse range of flavors. In the sweltering heat of summer, sweet soups served with ice are a common choice, while hot sweet soups provide warmth during chilly days. Whether hot or cold, Vietnamese sweet soup is beloved by locals and has become a delightful find for tourists.
2. Top 10 must-try Vietnamese sweet soup dishes
2.1. Vietnamese mixed sweet soup (che thap cam)
As one of the most well-known Vietnamese desserts, Vietnamese mixed sweet soup is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. In any region of Vietnam, you can easily find the ingredients to prepare this delicious treat for your entire family.
Start by cooking soaked semolina flour until it becomes clear, then rinse and refrigerate. Cook red beans with water, then add taro and sweet potatoes until they are tender. Add sugar, stir well, and cook a little longer before introducing the semolina. Finally, scoop the sweet soup into a bowl, drizzle it with coconut milk, and enjoy. The gentle aroma and sweet taste of che thap cam make it a favorite among those who love sweet desserts.
2.2. Vietnamese mung bean sweet soup (che dau xanh)
Vietnamese mung bean sweet soup is a classic Vietnamese dessert soup known for its simplicity and refreshing taste. This traditional treat features mung beans as its star ingredient, along with water, sugar, and the luscious addition of coconut milk. To make this dessert, mung beans are soaked, drained, and rinsed before being gently simmered with sugar until they reach a tender, melt-in-your-mouth consistency. You can add creamy coconut milk, which imparts a rich tropical twist to the sweet soup.
Che dau xanh is typically served chilled, which makes it a popular choice during scorching summer months. Its appeal is not only in its sweet flavor but also in the soothing, cooling properties attributed to mung beans. Thus, it is a go-to dessert for beating the heat.
2.3. Pomelo sweet soup (che buoi)
Pomelo sweet soup showcases the natural sweetness of pomelo in a simple and delightful way. To craft this traditional treat, the green pomelo skin is peeled away, revealing the spongy white segments. Then, they are cut into cubes and undergo a process of salting, soaking, rinsing, and boiling. The tender pomelo cubes are then mixed with sugar and tapioca starch to create a luscious base. The pomelo mix is combined with steamed mung beans, water, and coconut milk. Sugar is added to taste, and the mix is simmered until it thickens to perfection. This dessert is a summertime favorite, appreciated for its cooling properties. Che buoi offers a wonderful balance of flavors and a refreshing quality.
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2.4. Rice ball sweet soup (che troi nuoc) - a traditional Vietnamese sweet soup in winter
Rice ball sweet soup is a traditional and popular winter dessert. It consists of small sweet rice balls made from green bean paste wrapped in glutinous rice flour. These delightful balls are served in a ginger-infused soup. The name "rice ball sweet soup" likely originates from the way the balls float when they are cooked. Some variations include glutinous rice balls. This dessert combines starch-rich ingredients, such as glutinous flour and green beans, with the warmth of ginger, which not only enhances the flavor but is also believed to have medicinal properties. It is a comforting sweet treat that should be included in your Vietnam food list to enjoy during cold winter months.
2.5. Lotus seed sweet soup with dried longan (che long nhan hat sen)
Che long nhan hat sen is a Vietnamese dessert with significant historical importance. It was once reserved for royalty. In its name, "long" means dragon, symbolizing might. The best place to enjoy this dish is Hung Yen Province, where longan imparts a unique flavor. Legend has it that a longan tree in this region enchanted an official with its sweet scent, so he presented the dish to the king as a precious find. This dessert, often containing lotus seeds, resembles a dragon's eye when done.
Crafting this dish requires dedication, which is reflected by its taste. To make che long nhan hat sen, begin by soaking dried lotus seeds in water, either overnight or for at least 3 hours in hot water to make them soft. After soaking, carefully separate the lotus seeds and cook them in a pot of water with pandan leaves until they are soft and bloomed. Sweeten the lotus seeds with sugar and simmer gently. Once they are sweet, let them cool. Stuff the lotus seeds into fresh longan pulp. Create a tapioca starch mixture and add it to the pot with the lotus seeds and longan. Simmer until boiling.
2.6. Vietnamese three color dessert (che ba mau)
Vietnamese three color dessert is a vibrant sweet treat that has its roots in a Cantonese dessert soup called tong sui. It is often referred to as "three-layer dessert" or "rainbow dessert" due to its distinct three colors of yellow (mung beans), red (azuki beans), and green (agar jelly with pandan extract). The ingredients of che ba mau can include sticky rice, tapioca pearls, lotus seeds, sweet beans, water chestnuts, or agar jelly, providing a wide range of flavors and textures. What ties these ingredients together is the creamy embrace of coconut milk. They are often crowned with toppings like banana and crushed peanuts. Che ba mau is especially cherished as a cooling delight on hot summer days.
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2.7. Palmyra palm sweet soup (che thot not)
Palmyra palm sweet soup is a specialty of An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta. This Vietnamese sweet soup is beloved by people of all ages for its rich coconut milk, the delightful texture of palmyra palm fruits, the smoothness of mung beans, and the sweetness of palmyra palm sugar. The key to this delicious sweet soup is using ripe palmyra fruits, as unripe ones can have tough flesh that does not contribute to the soup's flavor.
To prepare this delicious dessert, start by cutting the palmyra palm fruit, peeling the yellow skin from the jelly seed sockets, and cubing the flesh. Peel the mung beans, cook or steam them until tender, then mash or blend them into a smooth paste. Bring the coconut milk to a boil and cook palmyra palm sugar and water to your desired level of sweetness. Add the fruit flesh and let it come to a boil. Mix tapioca starch with cold water and add it to the soup to thicken it. Finally, stir in the mung bean paste. You can serve this amazing dessert hot or cold, and it is even more delicious when enjoyed with some ice and nata de coco.
2.8. Che ba ba - a famous Vietnamese sweet soup dessert in the Mekong Delta
Che ba ba is a charming Vietnamese dessert with a special cultural touch. In Vietnamese, "ba ba" is a traditional outfit from South Vietnam. Just as Vietnamese women are admired for their beauty in ao dai or ba ba attire, che ba ba is cherished for its unique taste. This sweet soup is a lovely blend of more than ten ingredients, creating a colorful and tasty dish. It includes yellow sweet potatoes, yellow mung beans, brown peanuts, purple taro, green seaweed, and white coconut milk. The flavors and textures mix beautifully, with a bit of creaminess, stickiness, crunchiness, sweetness, and chewiness. You can enjoy it hot or cold, often with ice to make it even more refreshing.
The cooking process includes boiling water, the second extract of coconut milk, and mung beans until they reach a boil. Sweet potatoes, cassavas, and taro are added and cooked until tender. Peanuts, tapioca pearls, tapioca strips, and pandan leaves are introduced and cooked until the tapioca components become tender. The addition of seaweed, sugar, and a pinch of salt follows, and the first extract of coconut milk is stirred in to complete this enticing dessert.
2.9. Vietnamese sweet corn soup (che bap)
Vietnamese sweet corn soup is a delectable treat renowned for its mouth-watering flavor. This delightful sweet soup showcases a vibrant golden hue, adorned with crunchy corn kernels, complemented by a subtle aroma of corn. To enhance its lusciousness, a drizzle of creamy coconut milk is added. Beyond its delectable taste, che bap is a nutritious choice, particularly on a warm summer day.
Preparing che bap is a breeze. Just boil the corn pulp until the kernels plump up, then gently simmer them with sugar to reach the perfect level of sweetness. Gradually stir in cornstarch water and season to your liking. When serving, don't forget to generously pour coconut milk on top. Vietnamese sweet corn soup is a must-try, and mastering its preparation in your kitchen is a delightful culinary adventure.
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2.10. Roasted pork sweet soup (che bot loc heo quay) - an iconic sweet soup in Hue
Roasted pork sweet soup is an iconic delicacy originating from the historic city of Hue. This unique sweet soup embodies a harmonious blend of chewy tapioca cake and the savory notes of roasted pork. The balance between tapioca and pork results in a sweet treat that is truly special. This exquisite sugar-infused sweet soup also carries the aromatic essence of ginger, leaving a lingering aftertaste of both meat and flour.
To craft this delightful dish, begin by making the roasted pork filling. Simmer the pork with sugar over low heat until the sugar melds into the pork. For the dough crust, mix tapioca starch, salt, sugar, cooking oil, and warm water. Knead until it forms a smooth dough. Divide the dough into small parts, shape them into small blocks, cut into pieces, roll each piece into a ball, and flatten it. Scoop the roasted pork filling into the middle and wrap it tightly. Boil a pot of water, add the tapioca balls and cook for 30 minutes. Prepare the soup by combining water, salt, sugar, and shredded ginger. The result is an exquisite Hue-style roasted pork sweet soup.
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Vietnamese sweet soup goes beyond being a delicious dessert; it captures the core of traditional culture, and culinary artistry. With exquisite flavors and impressive aromas, Vietnamese sweet soups are sure to tantalize your taste buds. If you intend to visit Vietnam on your upcoming holiday, be sure to sample these delightful desserts at local eateries to experience their authentic taste.