SOUPINATION. Latvians and their love for soups.

Latvians might not be the biggest culinary innovators, but, for sure, we are one of the biggest consumers of broths, stocks and soups per capita or per spoon, or whatever.

latvia, soup, riga, latvians love soups

I wish to believe that one just needs to name a soup, and most Latvians have already heard about it if not tried it. But how to explain this love for liquified meals we have? It provides more guesses than answers. Maybe because the winter climate is harsh, and a cup of warm, filling and rich soup is just a perfect choice to have. Maybe because of Latvians often working out on the field or in nature back in the day - historically most of meals were prepared on the spot in large cauldrons on open fire, so the habit of boiling your food with water available literally everywhere stuck. Maybe it's often the cheapest decent food after porridges you can have from what you grow; the price of meals and ingredients here was a topic for a long time in history. Or maybe we eat so much other soups just because we have indeed been quite lazy as a culinary nation or unable to have our own gourmet chefs to produce our own dishes in the past. The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

National curiosities

However, there are a few types of soups that we are sort of proud to call Latvian. Some culinary peculiarities people do and don't like. One of them is the traditional cold beet soup that Lithuanians as well consider their own national meal, however we don't mind as long as it's also called Latvian. Another one, the weird guy in the family, is milk soup with vegetables, but the weird thing comes from oldtimers serving and eating it with pickled herring - because of this, the soup has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. The third is actually a plain broth of any kind served with a specially made meat pastry. Latvians like the broth being topped with extra black pepper and, here it gets curious indeed - the soup+pastry compo is usually presented mostly on Christmases or funerals. :) 

Aukstā zupa or the traditional cold beet soup. ©

To emphasize how casual soups are, say, in Riga, there is almost no place in town that never serves a bowl of soup on every business lunch. There are restaurants that have multiple soups with daily meals and a few that have nothing else but soups. In short, there is no menu in the country without a meal with broth and almost no business lunch with one. Therefore, when looking for soups in Riga, it's impossible to miss. Still I wanted to produce a wee starter list of a handful of places that have proven to be very good at serving soups in town - you are welcome to add other places by commenting under this article:
  • RamenRiga - serves Ramen exclusively and soups almost exclusively! Have some other Asian side dishes and tasty titbits from the far East;
  • Stockpot - possibly the very first world cuisine buffet in Riga. They looove spicy food and big portions, and the soups are the ones to fight for;
  • Tikai Karotes - local chain of ordinary soup canteens serving a wide range of mostly Central and Eastern European soups.