Vegetarian Wintermelon and Longan Soup

Soup Name: Vegetarian Wintermelon and Longan Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 冬瓜龍眼素湯 (dōng guā lóngyǎn sù tāng)

Introduction:

A very light and delicious soup appropriate for hot, stuffy summers.  It is refreshing (even though it’s hot) and slightly sweet with all the goodness of natural flavoring and ingredients.   It is a meatless soup and a quick boil, so it’s super easy to make.  Plus, it’s a great base for adding other ingredients such as corn, carrots, onions and I serve it with udon or noodles to make it a meal!

What ingredients are required?

3 fresh carrots, cut into large pieces
2 fresh corn, cut into large pieces
1 large slice of wintermelon, peeled and cut into large pieces
20 pieces of dried longan
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak dried longan in warm water for 10 minutes (or until soft)
  2. Start boiling your soup water
  3. Wash and prepare wintermelon, carrots, and corn (keep the wintermelon skin)
  4. When soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  5. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  6. Serve and enjoy!  Salt if necessary.

Any benefits?

  • Oil free soup
  • Excellent source of protein and vitamins
  • Easy to make soup
  • Soup is ideal for hot summers and mildly cooling to relieve heatiness in the body
  • Wintermelon helps detoxify the skin and body and regulates sugar levels

Any precautions?

  • Wintermelon is a mildly cooling ingredient and should be cautiously consumed if in your first trimester of pregnancy or if you’re menstruating as cooling foods intensify cramping
  • If someone is experiencing diarrhea or loose stool, they should avoid consuming the wintermelon seeds

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Tom Yum Koong – Somboon Seafood Restaurant (Bangkok, Thailand) Review

Soup Name: Tom Yum Koong Soup

Restaurant: Somboon Seafood Restaurant (Bantadthong Branch)

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Price: I’m sorry, I can’t remember because it was just so darn tasty (I’d estimate around 150 baht)

Serves:  About 8 small Chinese bowls worth

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

 

I’ve started a new section on this site to review soups.  As a soup lover and drinker, it naturally extends to trying other people’s soups and then finding what I love about them and making it my own.  You actually learn a lot about making soups from tasting other people’s soups.  One thing I love about tasting other people’s soups is dissecting it.  Marveling at the ingredients they use and trying to taste the subtlety of hidden ingredients.  Like wines, you have to smell the soup first and then swirl it around in your mouth to taste the sweet, salt and other goodies inside.

For starters, finding this restaurant is an ADVENTURE.  If you haven’t been there before, be wary of the fake Samboon restaurants in Bangkok – they are everywhere!  And cab drivers are paid a grand commission for bringing customers to these fake restaurants.

So, my take on this Tom Yum Koong soup?

It’s delicious.  It isn’t overly spicy (like some Thai food) and it’s quiet sour (more than average), but I personally love the sourness of the soup.  Most tom yum koong soups are packed with lemon grass and this one is not short of these finely sliced lemon grass pieces that are deliciously fragrant.  It is also packed with fresh shrimp and loads of straw mushrooms (yum!).  One thing they could reduce is the amount of chili oil – I’d say about a quarter of the surface area of the soup is covered and while I know it adds to the amazing scent of the soup, not sure it was completely necessary.  OK, so maybe some people can say I’m wrong, but my soup theory is really light on oil and salt and natural as possible.  I personally have yet to make this soup, so give me a few weeks to gather the ingredients (I hear North Point wet mart carries fresh ingredients from South East Asia) and I’ll put my version and interpretation of this soup on the site when I’ve made it!

The soup comes in a large metal pot with a fire element underneath it.  Smashingly delicious!

The restaurant!  We finally found out on round #2 of cab drivers!


Ginseng Fruit and Gobo in Vegetable Soup

Soup Name: Ginseng Fruit and Gobo in Vegetable Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 牛蒡人参果湯 (niúbàng rénshēn guǒ tāng)

Introduction:

A very clear and deep sweet soup that is extremely flavorful and rich in Vitamins.  Both the ginseng fruit and the gobo root give this soup all the flavor it needs, so no meat is required.  You can add a variety of vegetables to it like carrots, corn, chayotes, onions to make your soup creation.  The great thing about using ginseng fruit is that the soup actually smells and tastes like ginseng, but without the hole in your wallet!

What ingredients are required?

3 fresh carrots, cut into large pieces
2 fresh corn, cut into large pieces
2 fresh gobo root, cut into large pieces
5 fresh ginseng fruit, halved
1 tablespoon of apricot kernels
2 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Soak apricot kernals in water for 10 minutes
  2. Start boiling your soup water
  3. Wash and prepare ginseng fruit, gobo root, carrots and corn
  4. When soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  5. Boil on high for 30 minutes
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Oil free soup
  • Naturally flavorful because of both the ginseng fruit and gobo root
  • Excellent source of protein and vitamins
  • High amount of natural minerals
  • Easy to make soup
  • Neutral soup for any soup consumer

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to use ripen ginseng fruit as unripe ones contain an ingredient called saponin, which dries out your mouth

Ginseng Fruit or Sapodilla

Ingredient Name: Ginseng Fruit, Sapodilla, or Manilkara zapot

Traditional Chinese Name: 人参果 (rénshēn guǒ)

What is this?

  • The fruit of the sapodilla tree (which is an evergreen) grown in warm climates
  • The fruit itself has a very sweet and malty taste
  • The name “ginseng” fruit comes from the Chinese name (where 人参 is the Chinese word for ginseng)
  • It is a heart shaped fruit that is about the size of a large plum (about 2-3 inches in diameter)
  • Ginseng fruit reminds me of white tomatoes! (The texture is more firm though.)
  • It is classified as a warming ingredient

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse in warm water
  • Cut into halves

Where can I buy this?

  • Asian supermarkets may carry this (although it depends on season)
  • Wet marts may also carry this (although I have never seen it – or maybe just haven’t asked for it yet)

What is the cost

  • Ginseng fruit is very affordable
  • Each costs around $2-3 HKD per fruit

Any benefits?

  • It is naturally sweet and adds a unique (ginseng-like) flavor to the soup without using real ginseng (which is more expensive)
  • Rich in essential trace elements (iron and zinc)
  • Excellent source of Vitamin C, B1, B2
  • Ginseng fruit is high in protein
  • The fruit is also low in fat
  • It is said to be anti-cancer, anti-aging, helps lower blood pressure and reduce blood sugar

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to use ripen ginseng fruit, as unripe contains an ingredient which dries the mouth

Additional Information

  • Can store fresh ginseng fruit in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.  You can feel the fruit for firmness.  If it’s not firm, discard.