Hue sweet soup - the culinary quintessence of the ancient capital

Hue sweet soup - the culinary quintessence of the ancient capital

Thua Thien Hue 15.07.2021

Coming to Hue, you should not ignore the Hue sweet soups (Che Hue) - which have been considered as the culinary quintessence for generations. In Hue, there are more than 30 types of sweet soups, each of which has its own way of cooking and flavor.

Translated by nguyendo

Written by thyltp

An introduction to Hue sweet soup (Che Hue)

Hue royal sweet soup was originally an indispensable dessert for kings and royalty in ancient times thanks to its freshness and nutrition. When the feudal regime ended, royal sweet soup was given the opportunity to "escape" from the palace and "travel" in folklore. Gradually, it has become a popular dessert today.

Hue sweet soup is not only a favorite dessert in the daily life of Hue people, but it is also an offering to worship ancestors on New Year, the first day of month or the full moon day as it is considered as a symbol of “purity”.

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There are so many types of Hue sweet soups, that it takes you many days to enjoy them all. Photo: vnreview.vn

The diversity of Hue sweet soups

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Sweet soup with longan stuffed lotus seed (Che sen long nhan) - a nutritious dessert classified as a Hue royal sweet soup. Photo: Family Handbook

Hue has many types of sweet soup, each of which has its own flavor and way of cooking. In general, they are divided into 2 types, namely royal and common sweet soups. The former is often sophisticated and eye-catching, for example, those made from lima bean, lotus seed, mung bean with pandan, cassava flour stuffed roast pork, longan stuffed lotus seed, pomegranate seed, taro, and areca flower. The common sweet soup, which is diverse as well, is processed more simply from ingredients such as mung bean, corn, black bean, and grapefruit.

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Sweet soup with cassava flour stuffed roast pork (Che bot loc heo quay) is one of the unique desserts in Hue. Photo: cookpad

Among more than 30 types of sweet soups in Hue, perhaps the sweet soup with cassava flour stuffed roast pork is the most special dessert. Firstly, wrap a piece of roast pork and pork rind with cassava flour, then put the balls into a pot and boil them with sugar water. After a short time, the milky white outer layer turns transparent white, revealing the fillings inside. When enjoying it, you will be able to feel a very special taste as compared to traditional sweet soups. Have a bite into the soft and sweet dough, you will see the greasy taste of roast pork, the sweetness of soup, and the aroma of ginger and pandan - a very unique harmony between sweet and salty taste. It is important to note that you have to eat the dessert when it is warm. 

In terms of the soup’s state, Hue has two types of soups, namely condensed and washy ones. For condensed sweet soup, they often add some tapioca flour. It is ideal to enjoy this kind of sweet soup in winter. Meanwhile, the washy soup does not need any kind of flour, for example corn, mung beans, red bean and lotus seed sweet soups, which are best enjoyed in summer.

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Sweet soups made from dried beans are classified as the common ones. Photo: wolverineair

To make sweet soups from dried beans, Hue people have their own recipe. Lima beans, hyacinth beans, black beans, and red beans must be soaked in cold water for a few hours. After that, the beans are boiled in a pot over low heat so that the cooked beans are soft from the inside out. The soup must be transparent, supple, and have a median level of sweetness. For these types of sweet soups, some coconut milk is often added to increase the flavor.

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Con Hen sweet soup with corn. Photo: dacsanvietnam

Sweet soup with corn is a popular dessert in many regions of Vietnam. It is not difficult to make the dish, but to meet Hue standards, preparing ingredients is extremely important. Legend has it that in the past, in order to make this dessert for the kings, the water for making the soup must be rain water (to be cool and sweet), while the corn must be carefully chosen from the cornfields of Con Hen next to the peaceful Huong River. Thanks to the fertile alluvium of the Huong River, the quality of corn here is especially high, which is both soft and sweet. Until now, Hue people still choose baby corn, also known as “milk corn”, from Con Hen to make the dish. Having a bowl of Con Hen sweet soup with corn, you can feel the typical sweetness and “purity” as compared to those from other areas.

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Agar-Agar with Imitation Pomegranate Seeds Dessert (Che suong sa hat luu). Photo: hoithichdangoai.

If you have a preference for the sweet taste of starchy tubers, you can try the soups made from purple potato, yam, taro or Indian taro. For fruit lovers, you can choose sweet soups with mung bean and pandan/ pomegranate seeds/ basil seeds/ banana/ grapefruit/ or mixed fruits.

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Hue sweet soup shops are colourful and eye-catching. Photo: Streetfood

Many people think that the deliciousness of Hue sweet soups partly derives from the sweet voice of the people here. Enjoying a bowl of dessert with a charming smile and cute voice is a memorable experience.

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Rice ball sweet soup (Che troi nuoc) is a dessert that “warms your stomach” on cold days. Photo: Foody.com

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Ke sweet soup (Che ke) is often cooked on occasions of worship and Tet holiday. Photo: 3g.163.com

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Sweet soup with mung bean, coconut milk and ice (Che dau xanh) is a “solution” to cooling you down on hot days. Photo: Love housewife

The places offering delicious Hue sweet soups

Hue sweet soup is as “gentle and elegant” as the people there. To fully feel the taste, you should enjoy the bowl of Hue sweet soup little by little with unique flavors of "spiciness - richness - sweetness" blended. Along with this dessert, you should order a cup of fragrant tea.

In Hue, it is easy to find sweet soup shops in markets or on streets at a very low price of about VND 7,000 - 15,000/bowl. It is ideal for you to sit on the banks of the romantic Huong River and enjoy a bowl of sweet soup while listening to the melody of Hue's song.

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Hue sweet soups attract tourists thanks to its diversity.

Some delicious sweet soup shops in Hue are:

Che Hem:

+ Address: No.1 Kiet, 29 Hung Vuong, Hue city

+ Opening hours: 10:15 a.m. - 9:00 p.m

+ Price: VND 7,000 VND - 11,000/bowl

Che Thai Le:

+ Address: 116 Le Thanh Ton - Hue city

+ Opening hours: 9:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m

+ Price: VND 5,000 - 25,000/bowl

 Che Ngoc Hien:

+ Address: 67 Tran Hung Dao, Hue city

+ Opening hours: 3:00 p.m - 9:30 p.m

+ Price: VND 8,000 - 10,000/cup