Not soup again!

  • Esta es la sopa de miso con tofu que sirven en el restaurante Kikoba.

Bloggin Madrid

Mafalda and the marvellous Quino have been on our minds so much recently that we can’t help but imagine her sitting with a crabby look on her face as she contemplates a steaming bowl of that soup she used to hate so much. But hey, it’s autumn, the cold’s setting in and something hot is just what the doctor ordered! Surely even Mafalda would like these ones! These soups will take us on a trip around the world without ever having to leave MadridBy Silvia Roba

So, what exactly is a soup? Basically it’s a liquid with something of substance in it that tastes good. Oh, and you eat it with a spoon. There are rice soups, noodle soups, vegetable soups... light soups that are all about the broth, and lots of other heartier soups based on stewed or boiled ingredients. In this case we can well say that their origin is lost in the mists of time, since their inclusion in our human diet is inevitably linked to the discovery of fire. No doubt it was back in the Palaeolithic age when somebody had the bright idea of putting something (meat, vegetables) into boiling water and... the rest is history!

¡Qué buena pinta! Para probar esta sopa de pescado tendrás que ir al NoMad Food & Bar del Hotel Vinci Soho.

Cooking has evolved a lot since then, and I mean a lot. But every culture in the world has embraced the concept of soup and made it its own. The gastronomic map of Madrid spans the seven continents, and in all seven this bowl and spoon dish is an essential part of traditional recipes. All aboard! Let’s head off to the Far East.

In the new China Crown restaurant that has just opened in the Barrio de Salamanca neighbourhood, the menu’s highlight is lacquered duck. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye out for another of their offerings: imperial dim sum soup made with shark fin, red shrimp and txangurro spider crab. Try it once and you’ll be back for more!

La sopa dim sum de aleta de tiburón del restaurante China Crown es uno de los platos más solicitados.

In the 99 Sushi Bar in the NH Collection Eurobuilding they offer a little of everything: from the most classic dishes of traditional Japanese cuisine to the country’s most innovative and avant-garde recipes. No matter what your preferences may be, whatever you do, don’t miss their famous capumiso which is a soup based on fermented soybeans with seaweed, truffles, spring onions and tofu foam. Tofu is also one of the ingredients of the miso soup they serve in Kiboka, not far from Calle Juan Bravo, but they also add clams and seaweed to it.

La capumiso del 99 Sushi Bar tiene una base de soja fermentada con algas, trufa, cebolleta y espuma de tofu.

Here, however, as is the case in every self-respecting Japanese restaurant and tavern in our city, the star of the bill is their ramen. Let’s get one thing straight: ramen is a soup made with wheat noodles, normally served in a bowl, with a very aromatic broth and all sorts of different ingredients. In Kiboka they make it with fillet of veal and vegetables, but in Ninja Ramen, in the heart of Malasaña, they make it with beef tenderloin and just a touch of spice, or else with chicken.

El ramen de pollo, siempre presente en la carta de Ninja Ramen.

Thailand’s most typical soups also tend to be made with chicken. In Phuket Tai, in Atocha, they serve a soup made with coconut, the star ingredient in the country’s gastronomy. You’ll come across lots of typical soups in Mexico (try the ‘Aztec’, the corn tortilla soup they serve up in La Mordida), and in Morocco (in Al-Mounia they make harira soup with the best vegetables and minced meat).

One of France’s classic dishes is onion soup, which was already popular way back in the 14th century. It wasn’t until five centuries later, however, that it became popular as a snack, first of all among workers signing on early in the morning at the central food market, and later among night owls. It’s topped with cheese and served piping hot. In Le Bistroman, just beside the Plaza de Opera, the cheese they use is Emmental AOC, the broth is the result of sustainable poultry farming, and the onions are organic.

La sopa de cebolla de Le Bistroman lleva por encima queso emmental AOC.

Italy is the home of the quintessential minestrone, a colourful blend of legumes, vegetables, pasta and cheese. The recipe they follow in Trattoria Sant Arcangelo will remind you that la vita è bella!

¡La vida es bella! Y la sopa minestrone de la Trattoria Sant Arcangelo está exquisita.

We Spaniards know a thing or two about soup: maybe one day we’ll treat ourselves to a consommé (a concentrated meat broth that is usually clarified), such as the one they serve in Horcher with a dash of sherry, the next, a bowl of soup taken from the traditional Madrid stew they make in Lhardy, replete with its minced ham and chicken.

And in between the one and the other? A veritable world of possibilities. In La Cocina de María Luisa they make a black truffle soup to die for, the house speciality in El Jardín de Alma is an Idiazábal cheese soup, and in La MalajeNoMad at the Hotel Vinci Soho, and in Nebak, they serve delicious fish soups - in Nebak they make it with monkfish and the finest clams.

El consomé al jerez de Horcher es todo un clásico en Madrid.

But let's face it, if there is any such thing as a typical soup in Spain then that has to be Castilian soup which has a legion of fans here in Madrid when we reach this time of year. Thanks to its stale bread, garlic, paprika and poached egg, this is a culinary treat that - and this may sound strange to us - used to be eaten for breakfast.

An expert on the subject is Javier Sánchez, the chef at La Posada del Nuncio: “Most of us love Castilian soup because our grandmothers used to make it for us on cold and now long-gone winter days to warm us up a little. You really need to pamper this dish by using the best ingredients, a good loaf of bread, fine ham, free-range eggs, garlic... Let’s make it the way it’s always been made, to honour our grandmothers”.

Javier Sánchez, de La Posada del Nuncio, es todo un experto en sopas castellanas.

Madrid, as we all know, is home to the oldest restaurant in the world Casa Botín, and its doors are still open today so you can try not only their famous roast meats, but also the many other dishes that they prepare with such great care and ages-old devotion. This includes, it goes without saying, their highly popular garlic soup.

As they describe it to us, with their characteristic sense of humour, they quote the lyrics of an old copla song: “There are seven good things about soup: they take away your hunger, and they take away your thirst. They make you sleep and they help you digest. They never make you angry, they always make you glad. And they bring some colour to your cheeks”. They assure us that if we try their soup at least one these pleasures is guaranteed.

Y, por último, la sopa de ajo con huevo al estilo castellano de Casa Botín.

Silvia Roba is a well-travelled journalist who has roamed the world so she can tell others about it. She is content manager for esMADRIDmagazine and the coordinator of Bloggin' Madrid. What does she like best? Getting lost in the city. Follow her!


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