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What does New Year’s soup mean?

New Year’s soup is a traditional dish eaten on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day in many cultures around the world. It is believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and health in the coming year. The ingredients and preparation of New Year’s soup vary by region and culture, but the significance remains the same.

What are some common New Year’s soup traditions?

Here are some of the most popular New Year’s soup traditions from around the world:

  • In Japan, people eat ozoni, a soup with mochi rice cakes, vegetables, and chicken or fish. It symbolizes health, prosperity, and purification.
  • In China, noodle soups like dumpling soup or wonton soup are eaten. The long noodles represent a long life.
  • In Vietnam, bánh chưng soup with pork and mung beans is popular. It represents the earth andharvest.
  • In Hungary, lentil soup is traditionally eaten. The lentils symbolize coins and financial prosperity.
  • In Brazil, lentil soup with smoked meat is common. The lentils represent wealth and the meat symbolizes progress.
  • In the southern United States, black-eyed peas and collard greens are believed to bring luck. The legumes represent coins and the greens resemble cash.

What ingredients are commonly used in New Year’s soup?

Certain ingredients are often used in New Year’s soups because of the symbolic meaning behind them. Common ingredients include:

  • Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils which represent coins, money, and good financial fortune.
  • Greens like spinach, kale, and collards which symbolize paper money and wealth.
  • Poultry like chicken or duck which represent fertility and new beginnings.
  • Fish which symbolizes an abundance of food and good luck for the year.
  • Grains like rice, barley, or wheat which represent sustenance and health.
  • Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions represent grounding and prosperity from the earth.

What meanings are associated with New Year’s soup?

Eating New Year’s soup carries rich symbolic significance across many cultures. Here are some of the common meanings behind this tradition:

  • Washing away the old and welcoming the new – Soup’s liquid form is seen as cleansing.
  • Good health, sustenance, and nourishment for the year ahead.
  • Warmth and comfort during the cold winter months.
  • Wealth, prosperity, and abundance based on ingredients like legumes and greens.
  • Good luck and fortune for the future.
  • Coming together as a family or community over a shared meal.

What are some sample New Year’s soup recipes?

Here are a few tasty New Year’s soup recipes to try from around the world:

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

This spicy, umami-packed soup featuring mushrooms and tofu is a popular Chinese New Year dish. It’s thought to aid digestion for the feasts to come!


  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup shredded bamboo shoots
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 green onions, sliced


  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and white pepper. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add bamboo shoots, mushrooms and tofu. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in the beaten eggs. Mix cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water and stir into soup to thicken slightly.
  5. Remove from heat. Garnish with green onions and serve.

Italian Lentil Soup

This hearty, protein-packed lentil soup represents wealth for the new year. It’s topped with garlic bruschetta for a tasty, crunchy contrast.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For bruschetta topping:
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 loaf crusty bread, sliced and toasted


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add lentils, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes until lentils are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, make the bruschetta topping. In a bowl, combine garlic, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, place toasted bread slices in bowls. Ladle over lentil soup and top with bruschetta.

Mexican Pozole Soup

This hearty hominy and pork soup is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve in Mexico. It’s garnished with cabbage, radish, avocado and lime.


  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, seeded
  • 1 dried pasilla chile, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 (15 oz) cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • Salt to taste
  • For garnish:
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Sliced avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Tortilla chips


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine pork, onion, garlic, guajillo chile, pasilla chile, cumin and oregano. Cover with water by 2 inches.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours until pork is very tender. Remove pork with slotted spoon.
  3. Strain the broth through a sieve into a clean pot. Add chicken broth and hominy. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Shred the pork with two forks. Add back to soup and season with salt.
  5. To serve, ladle pozole into bowls and top with desired garnishes.


New Year’s soup is a heartwarming tradition celebrating hope, prosperity, and health for the future ahead. Though the specific ritual varies across cultures, the significance remains universal. These symbolic soups nourish both body and spirit as we reflect on the year gone by and look forward to new beginnings. With its power to bring people together over a comforting bowl, New Year’s soup represents the connections we share as a human family.