Soup Name: Quick Boil Wintermelon, Lotus Seeds and Beef Soup
Traditional Chinese Name: 牛肉冬瓜熬湯 (niú ròu dōng guā áo tāng)
In a rush but still want to make tasty, healthy Chinese soup? There is this thing going around Hong Kong where people say that “old fire” soups aren’t always the healthiest thing. They can be heavy in ingredients and potentially an overkill on herbs, especially when boiled for so long. The latest soup fad? Quick boil soups – so lately, that’s all I’ve been making! This beef and winter melon soup is simply delicious, refreshing and super easy to make. You don’t even need the Chinese herbs to keep it simple, especially when you’re in a location where you can’t get them or they are not readily available. I ended up making this soup for lunch and used the soup base to go with noodles, perfect!
Traditional Chinese Name: 祛濕清熱冬瓜湯 (qū shī qīngrè dōngguā tāng)
A must drink for the hot, stuffy summers. It helps cools the body, reduces heatiness and eliminates overheating. While mildly sweet and light to taste, this is a common and very popular soup in the Cantonese soup repertoire. There are a variety of ways to make this soup, but this is the most basic.
This is a common summer soup to relieve heatiness and cool down the body. There are a variety of additions you can add to make this soup flavourful and unique. The winter melon is also an ornamental soup in which the entire winter melon is used as the “dish” of the soup and is double-boiled to achieve this affect. It is common to put 冬菜 (dōng choy) in this soup, but it’s been banned from being imported to Canada (as of recently), so I’ve replaced it with 梅菜 (mui choy) instead.
The winter melon is actually a vine grown fruit that is eaten as a vegetable
The melon itself can grow to be very large, hitting 1-2 m in length and 30 pounds at full maturity, although smaller single serving of these melons are also available for double-boiling (which are super cute)
Both young and mature melons are used in Chinese soups
It is commonly used in dishes, stews, steamed and soups
People drink fresh melon juice
It is quite popular in Hong Kong to use baby winter melon (see picture below) in soups
How do I prepare it?
For the simple winter melon soup, you simply wash the melon, and cut into large cubes, keep the skin on so that melon doesn’t disintegrate, but this is up to you.
If you’re making the fancy winter melon soup, you will need to carve out the WHOLE melon and double boil it as a soup
For quick boil Chinese soups, I tend to peel and cut the melon into smaller cubes (for a faster boil)
Where can I buy it and cost?
You can purchase fresh winter melon at most Asian supermarkets – they will be cut into manageable sizes and packaged
In Hong Kong wet marts, you can purchase it by the weight, requesting the vendor to cut the amount you wish directly from the whole melon
Winter melons are known to remove heatiness and helps detoxify the body
It is ideal in removing phelgm from the lungs
It is also particularly effective in regulating blood sugar levels
The winter melon skin can also be boiled/eaten for someone with heat stroke or edema due to heat
Since it is a cooling food, it should be carefully consumed if pregnant (less than 3 months into term) or menstruating (can cause contractions)
If someone is experiencing diarrhea or loose stool, they should avoid consuming the winter melon seeds
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
Check out this video to help you build your basic Chinese Soup kitchen pantry.