What Is Papaya Soup?

Dan Harkins

The papaya is revered the world around as a sweet and versatile fruit. Many recipes use this fruit in its natural state, highlighting its sweetness in a cold, sweet soup in which it shares the bowl with berries, citrus and fresh herbs. Elsewhere, as in Asia, chunks of this fruit may add a bold orange flash of color alongside pork or seafood in a savory papaya soup.

A papaya.
A papaya.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods Web site, it would be wise to work papaya into the diet, and not just because explorer Christopher Columbus once reportedly dubbed it the "fruit of the angels." The fruit has an overabundance of essential vitamins and sumptuous taste. Papaya also contains cancer-fighting lycopene and inflammation-reducing enzymes called papain, which are used by doctors to fight pain and the symptoms of allergies.

An unripe papaya.
An unripe papaya.

Savory papaya soup can be prepared in a range of ways. A Chinese recipe for papaya soup at The Chinese Soup Lady Web site, has papaya chunks boiling in a fish stock that was started by de-glazing a hot pan used to grill white fish and scallops. Called mù gua yú tāng, the seafood is then placed in a bag that boils for an hour alongside the papaya and other ingredients like ginger, dried dates, oil and salt. The mesh bag is important for keeping the seafood intact while boiling in the stock.

A Vietnamese papaya soup adds pork chunks instead of seafood. The seafood flavor is kept, however, by boiling it all in a broth made with fish sauce called nuoc mam. According to the Wandering Chopsticks food blog, many Vietnamese believe the papaya promotes healthy lactation, so this soup, called canh du du, is often served to breastfeeding women.

A sweet play on papaya soup includes no meat at all, making it basically a wet fruit salad. Shared by Food Network chef Alton Brown, this papaya soup starts by dissolving sugar in water, then adding it to lime and lemon juice. This is then used to bathe chunks of papaya, mint and candied ginger. The "soup" is finished off with a garnish of berries and citrus zest. To make this even more of a cold summer soup, these ingredients can be blended until fairly smooth.

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