Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Your guide to COOLING and WARMING ingredients in Chinese Soups

Did your parents or grandparents ever tell you that you’re too “yeet hay” (heaty) and would make you a cooling soup or tea or drink, such as watercress soup or winter melon and then go on to explain that it was good for you and would help with your heaty body?  This was me!  And you grew up understanding this term called “yeet hay”, but it wasn’t easily translatable in English, but yet… you know.  And now it comes back in full circle, understanding the principles in Traditional Chinese medicine, why there’s this re-balance in our diets!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide on what to consider as your soup ingredients
  • Most Chinese soups have a combination of protein, vegetables or roots, and some simple herbs (such as dried longans or dried red dates)
  • It’s not as easy as a mix and match!  Although I wish it were.  I would really suggest doing some research on the combinations available, such as existing recipes out there or ask friends and family.
  • Do consult a physician if you’re unsure of your health and what to consume

 

Tips and examples:

  • Consider the complimentary tastes of ingredients (it’s not really a mix and match at random!).  There are pairings that have worked for the TCM principles above such as balancing yin and yang.
  • For example, the Cantonese dessert of silky tofu pudding (tofu fa) is usually combined with a ginger brown syrup.  This is because the tofu is highly cooling and the ginger will offset that.
  • For example, winter melon is best combined with pork rather than chicken (although I have tried that) to maintain the cooling effects of the soup.  Winter melon is promoted as a summer soup for this very reason, so making it with warmer protein will reduce that effectiveness.
  •  The external environment also has an impact to your yin and yang balance.  In the winter, we nourish the yang more to stay warm and in the spring, we want to reduce the yin to dispel moisture from the body.
  • For example, chicken soups and especially double-boiled soups are recommended in the winter to keep us warm.  Ginger is a great add to soups, including dried longans, which are all warming.  The same applies to summer and hot weather where the Chinese lean towards watercress, gourds, and melon soups.
  • Our internal state is probably the most important in determining which soup to make and how this principle helps.
  • For example, postpartum is an important moment for women in recovering their balance for the long term.  In postpartum, the body is in need of yang nourishment due to blood and fluid loss of childbirth.  This is why all the foods, soups, and teas created for confinement are hot or warming and tend to be packed full of ginger.
  • For example, the scratchy, bumpy, and inflamed tongue is a great example of too much heat (or yang) in our bodies.  This is common when we have lack of sleep (remember how yang is active) or eat too much fried food (another source of heat into our bodies), so having cooling teas or soups will help relieve the excess yang. 

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Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able to drink it – especially with all the yummy insides that go with it! So I did manage to find a baby whole winter melon – which will fit into my soup pot, so here’s the recipe for it. You can actually use this on a whole winter melon, but you’ll need to just cut off whatever amount doesn’t fit into your pot and go from there. This is a pretty labour intensive soup with many steps, but so worth it!

Soup Name:

Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)

 

For soup and recipe videos, visit us on YouTube.

You’ll need: 1 whole winter melon, dried shrimp, dried conpoy, fresh shrimp, fresh pork, dried mushrooms, straw mushrooms, salt, cornstarch, oil and chicken broth.  In actuality, this is a quick boil soup first and then double-boiled within the winter melon – or at least, that’s how this recipe goes. The thicker the winter melon, the longer it will need to be double-boiled, but at least you make the soup base first.

To start, soak all your dried Chinese goodies for 10-15 minutes – this includes the mushrooms, the conpoys and the shrimp.

Cut up the mushrooms. We don’t need the mushrooms ends, so you can discard this. Cut the mushrooms into tiny cubes. The idea is to use consistency across all the soup ingredients so they are the same size.

You can start working on “emptying” the winter melon. Start by slicing the top straight across, these beautiful parts can be used in your soup (less skin). Using a sharp, thin, knife, cut about 1 inch away from the edge and completely remove all the middle. You can discard the seeds first and keep the flesh to be added back into the soup. Go deep and leave about 1-inch from the bottom, you’ll have to be careful here and just eyeball it. Try really hard not to puncture the winter melon!  Using any parts of the leftover winter melon, cube that into the same size as the mushrooms. This will be used for your soup later.

Same with your meats. Cube the raw shrimp and raw pork. After this, you can mix them together with a bit of salt, oil and corn starch, in preparation for frying.  In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and pan fry the dried shrimp and conpoy. This makes the fragrance and all the flavours are ready to come out in the soup. In Cantonese, there’s a term called “exploding the fragrance” of the ingredients.

When cooked for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat, throw in the raw shrimp and pork and stir that around a little bit for another 5 minutes.

You will then have a beautiful and very fragrant medley of your meats for the soup. Good enough to just eat on its own – for sure! But don’t!! You need it for the soup!

Here’s where it gets tricky. I made a giant pot of soup – so much that it doesn’t fit into the winter melon, which is OK, because you can still drink the quick boil as a quick boil soup any way. I used 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts water – this is because I don’t like soup too salty, and you can always add more salt or chicken broth after.
So now, throw everything into your pot. The broth and the straw mushrooms (which are also diced) and the diced winter melon.

Let that boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in your double-boiler, set it up so that you have a the winter melon sitting on a metal low dish (to catch any soup just in case) and add hot water to the outside double-boiler.

Once it’s set up, you can turn up the flame to a medium-high to get the water boiling. Once your other quick boil soup is read, scoop in generous amounts of the meats and “stuff” (fill about half) and then fill the rest with the soup. It won’t all fill, but tis is life sometimes!

The idea is that the heat will soften the winter melon bowl and the flavours of the soup will just seep into the flesh and make it so deliciously yummy! Boil on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until you see that the winter melon has softened and turned translucent. This means, it’s ready!

Finally, serve! Use a hardy soup ladle and scoop the soup meats, the soup itself and don’t forget to go for the outer winter melon flesh – that’s why it’s cooked in the double-boiler!

This was one awesome soup and I was super proud that it was a huge success on my first attempt! I’ve also had requests to try it with a larger winter melon, so that will be my next project. There are so many variations you can make on the soup though, like including Chinese preserved ham, ham, go vegetarian?, carrots, onions – whatever!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 30 mins pre-boil on soup + 2 hours in double-boiler (or until the whole outer melon softens)

Total time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Serves: 4-5 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 small whole winter melon (that has to fit in your double-boil pot) – emptied and cube the flesh
  • 7 fresh shrimp, beheaded and peeled
  • 1/2 pound of fresh pork
  • 5 dried conpoys (or scallops)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 5 fresh straw mushrooms
  • salt (for taste as needed)
  • oil (for frying the ingredients first)
  • cornstarch (to thicken the soup as needed)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
  2. Empty out the middle of your winter melon – keeping in completely intact with the exception of the top. Keep to 1-inch of melon left from the edge. Throw away the seeds.
  3. Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
  5. In a pot, add a tiny bit of oil and fry (drain water) the dried conpoy and dried shrimp for 5 minutes on medium heat
  6. Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
  7. Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
  8. Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
  9. Boil on medium for 30 minutes
  10. In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
  11. Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
  12. Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
  13. Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy

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Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup

Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup

Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup

Soup Name:

Vegetarian Lotus Root with Chestnuts and Carrots Chinese Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

蓮藕栗子素湯 (Lián’ǒu lìzǐ sù tāng)

 

This is a great, earthy, slightly nutty light soup great for the whole family and vegetarian friendly!

I’m using dried mushrooms to replace pork bones and trying to honour the flavour profile of the lotus roots and carrots.  Slightly sweet, slightly earthy, that hint of nuttiness, but in a light broth that’s savory and smooth.

You can explore more vegetarian substitutes for meats in Chinese soups and get creative!

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 2 hour and 30 mins

Total time: 2 hour and 45 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Pre-soak your dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms in a bowl for 2 hours until they soften
  2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms
  3. Prepare your soup water on high heat with the 2 L of cold water in your thermal soup pot
  4. In a shallow pan, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and on medium heat, pan fry the mushrooms with a bit of salt until fragrant and slightly browned on both sides
  5. Wash & peel the lotus root, cutting into large pieces
  6. Wash, peel, and cut carrot into large cubes
  7. Wash, peel, and cut corn into large pieces 
  8. When the water boils, add all the ingredients together
  9. Boil on medium to high heat for 30 minutes
  10. You can continue to boil on low heat for another 2 hours or put into your thermal pot 
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • A neutral soup ideal for the whole family
  • Better for dryer, cooler weather as chestnuts are known to be a little bit wet and warming in nature
  • A versatile soup where you can change it up a bit and add other vegetables such as Chinese Yam, chayotes, or potatoes
  • Be sure to buy good quality Chinese dried mushrooms

For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

When you want to go meatless, but don’t want to trade off flavour!  

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

There are so many options when you want to replace meats in Chinese soups!  I try to keep the flavour profile of the soup without compromising it with the replacements.  I find vegetarian soups less oily, have more fiber, and provide a different offering to my soups!  I am able to venture into a more unique group of ingredients I don’t always traditionally use.

Some tips for Vegetarian Chinese Soups:

  • While you don’t need to blanch these ingredients, some do taste better if you pan fry it first (ie: soy products, mushrooms, even some vegetables such as potatoes)
  • Many vegetarian choices have great shelf life (dried mushrooms can last greater than 1 year, packaged nuts like chestnuts and peanuts can also last 3-6 months), although fresh peanuts last around 5 days in the fridge
  • Save your tummy as these ingredients eat like a meal
  • You can get creative to mix and match, or create your own!
  • Mushrooms have a rich, earthy, profile to the their taste, while nuts also have some earthy taste, but lighter
  • There are so many amazing fruits and vegetables available in the Asian repertoire such as gobo (or burdock root),  Japanese pumpkin, seabed coconuts, even normal coconuts can work!
  • Don’t forget to consider Chinese Herbs as replacements as well

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FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

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Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I’ve been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that long boil or even any Chinese herbs.

For this soup, I’ve gone with a hearty meat and vegetable soup that you can easily drop in rice, macaroni, or noodles in to make it a meal.

There are a few tips and tricks for quick boils soups.

Such as:

 

  • Ingredients sliced thinly or small for quick cooking
  • Readily available ingredients in your freezer or fridge
  • Minimal Chinese herbs used
  • Soups are ready in 30 minutes of boil

What’s involved?

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 35 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 400 g of ground pork
  • 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of diced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 baby napa cabbages
  • 3 bunches of fresh cilantro
  • 2 bunches of fresh green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce
  • 2L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare your ginger and garlic
  2. In your soup pot (I use a cast iron soup pot), add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat
  3. Add in the sliced ginger and diced garlic and stir fry until brown for 5 minutes
  4. Add in your ground pork and break it down as it cooks so that it turns into small bits.  
  5. Season with the white, black pepper, garlic salt, and soy sauce
  6. Stir until cooked for 5 minutes
  7. Add in 1 bunch of fresh green onion and fresh cilantro and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes
  8. Add in 2 L of water, cover and boil for 30 minutes on medium heat
  9. Before serving, toss in additional fresh green onions and cilantro and let it sit on top, and serve
  10. You can see you rice, noodles, macaroni to make it a meal!

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

 

 

 

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Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup

I’ve always been in awe with the restaurant-styled whole winter melon soups – I mean, how on earth did they do that? They must have some giant double-boiler inside and it always taste so yummy! It’s a true favourite of mine when I go to Chinese restaurants to be able...

The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Chinese Confinement

THE DO's and DON'T's Of Chinese Confinement It all starts with one key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine:  Re-balance the Yin and Yang in the body. The energy in the body post birth is normally in an increased yin (cooling) state due to the loss of blood and...

Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer!

Soup Name:  Chicken Wintermelon Soup for Summer! Traditional Chinese Name:   冬瓜雞湯 (dōng guā jī tāng)  For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Here is a variation on the wintermelon soup using chicken as the protein instead of pork.  It's slightly cooling, helping to...

Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese Soup

Soup Name: Fragrant Pork and Cabbage Quick Boil Chinese SoupFor more videos, visit us on YouTube.No time?  Cost saving?  Want something quick?  I've been making these quick boil Chinese soups for awhile now!  You can still make healthy and delicious soups without that...

Homemade Do-it-yourself Wontons in a “Cheat” Chicken Broth

Did you know that wontons literally means "cloud swallow" in Cantonese?  These little delights are like clouds and bite-sized enough to be swallowed in one gulp! For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create awesome wontons at home!   What...

Turkey Chinese Congee (Porridge)

Soup Name: Turkey Chinese Congee Traditional Chinese Name: 火雞粥 (huǒ jī zhōu) Introduction: What to do with a 19 pound turkey for a family of 6? Well, after carving it, you have more meat leftover than carcass and I’ve taken half of the carcass for congee and the other...

A Do-It-Yourself Japanese Shabu Shabu Experience

Check out this 2 part homemade broth and Japanese-styled shabu shabu experience!Serves: Party of 4-6 Prep Time:  30 mins Cook Time:  3 hours and 15 mins Eat Time:  Endless For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Check out the video on how to create an awesome and...

Cooking Chinese Soups With a Thermal Induction Pot

I could not contain my excitement when I got my new Thermal Induction Pot! Check out the video above for the unpack and how to use it.For more videos, visit us on YouTube. What makes this pot so special? Due to its engineered induction design, the pot itself will...

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