Chinese Pumpkin with Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup

Soup Name: Chinese pumpkin with sweet potato and tomato soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 三甘湯 (sān gān tāng)

The name is quite interesting because I learned about this soup from my vegetable vendor in the wet mart in Hong Kong.  The 3 (三 – sān) implies 3 keys vegetables ingredients, that being:  Chinese pumpkin, sweet potato and tomatos.  The base of this soup is rich in vitamins, extremely sweet and a neutral soup for the whole family to drink.  You can add other ingredients to this vegetable soup pending your creativity and physical needs.

What Ingredients are required?

1 pound of fresh pork shank (optional if you want a vegetarian soup)
1/2 fresh Chinese pumpkin
5 fresh tomatoes
3 fresh sweet potatoes
10 dried longans
2 fresh onions

2-3 L of water
1 teaspoon of oil (optional to pan-fry onions)
How do I prepare it?

  1. Boil your soup water
  2. Blanch pork in boiling water
  3. Cut up pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and onions into large cubes
  4. In a shallow pan, quickly fry the onions (optional step, but it really enhances the flavour of the onions in the soup)
  5. When water boils, add all the ingredients together
  6. Boil on high for 30 minutes, reduce to simmer for another hour.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Excellent soup for children (including the rich broth and hearty ingredients)
  • Soup is rich in Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene
  • Ingredients are great for the eyes and aides in digestion

Any precautions?

  • None!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin (Chinese)

Ingredient Name: Pumpkin (Chinese variety)

Traditional Chinese Name: 南瓜 (nán guā)

The Chinese pumpkin is similar to the Japanese pumpkin in taste and do produce a very similar sweetness to soups.  It’s a great texture to eat when boiled soft and packed with nutrients.  Not always the easiest ingredient to find (even in wet marts), but if you can find it fresh and available, pick one up!

What is this?
  • A gourd that is part of the squash family
  • This type of pumpkin is seedless and come in relatively large sizes
  • There are a variety of pumpkins that come in skin colours of orange, yellow, green, white, red and gray
  • They are cooked in a variety of ways:  boiled, in pies, soups, cakes, cookies, seeds, fried, baked, steamed, desserts
  • Pumpkins provide a good source of carbohydrates and are extremely high in Vitamin A, C,  and betacartone (the stuff that’s good for your eyes)

How do I prepare it?

  • Cut the pumpkin into halves and quarters first using a large knife
  • You can then slowly peel away the skin by resting the pumpkin flat on one-side and slicing away the skin
  • Some people will boil the skin with the soup (although this completely up to you)

Where can I buy this?

  • Most asian supermarkets will carry Chinese pumpkin
  • Your local wet mart will also carry it

What is the cost?

  • On average, a half-sized Chinese pumpkin will cost $20-$25 HKD (as pictured above in size)

Any benefits?

  • Pumpkins are extremely high in Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene
  • They are a good source of carbohydrates

Any precautions?

  • Be careful of cutting pumpkins, it is not an easy task


Ginseng with Honey Tea

Soup Name: Ginseng with Honey Tea

Traditional Chinese Name: 人參茶 (Rénshēn Chá)

An extremely easy and common Chinese tea/drink that is one of the traditional cooling teas.  It relieves heatiness, expels heat from the body and is overall healthy for the body.  Although slightly bitter in after taste, adding some honey or rock sugar can help make this tea delicious.  There are a variety of recipes for ginseng tea with varying Chinese herbs, but this is the most basic.

What Ingredients are required?

1-2 pieces of dried ginseng (pending how bitter you’d like it)
1 tablespoon of honey
2-3 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Cut up long ginseng piece into slices (for releasing more ginseng flavor into the tea)
  2. Add ginseng to water and boil covered for 30 minutes
  3. Strain and add honey
  4. Can be served chilled

Another way to prepare this tea is without boiling.  You can simply steep the ginseng like normal tea leaves in a cup of hot/boiling water.  Stir to distribute flavor and then add honey or rock sugar.

Any benefits?

  • Excellent for removing heatiness from the body
  • Great anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Extremely easy to make
  • Can help reduce fatigue, lower cholesterol and prevent infections

Any precautions?

  • Ginseng is a cooling food and should be avoided in women who are in their first trimester or in postpartum (confinement)

Preserved Mustard Greens in Pig Stomach’s Soup

Soup Name: Preserved Mustard Greens in Pig Stomach’s Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 豬肚酸菜湯 (Zhū dù suan cai tāng)

A pretty traditional type of Chinese soup that uses white peppercorn – there are only a few that use this ingredient.  It is not particularly spicy, but it does have an interesting taste that is probably acquired.   My children didn’t like this soup at all, but with more pork bones (or pork shank) and less pepper, it can be a very appetizing soup because of the preserved mustard greens.  Excellent for spring as it helps remove moisture from the body during the wet and stuffy rainy season.

What Ingredients are required?

1 pound of fresh pork bones (optional)
1 pack of preserved mustard greens
200 g of pig’s stomach
15 g of white peppercorn (half it for kids)
3-4 L of water

How do I prepare it?

  1. Blanch pork in boiling water
  2. Boil soup water
  3. Rinse and cut up preserved mustard greens into large pieces (if you want it less salty or sour, soak in water longer)
  4. When water boils, add all ingredients together
  5. Boil on high heat for half an hour and then reduce to simmer for another hour
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Excellent for removing moisture from the body
  • Extremely appetizing soup
  • Very neutral soup ideal for all soup drinkers

Any precautions?

  • Use caution with pepper (always add less and add more later)
  • Buy preserved mustard greens from a reputable source

White Peppercorn

Ingredient Name: White pepper, white peppercorn

Traditional Chinese Name:甘草 (gān cǎo)

What is this?

  • The seeds of the pepper plant that are spicy to taste and very small in size (around 1 cm in diameter on average)
  • They differ from the black peppercorn in how they are processed
  • Often used in light colored foods, though the Chinese use this very often in many dishes, soups, stews
  • It is considered to be a warming ingredient

How do I prepare it?

  • Rinse quickly in warm water

Where can I buy this?

  • Peppercorn is available commonly in all supermarkets, although the white peppercorn may be more of a challenge to find

What is the cost

  • Extremely affordable

Any benefits?

  • It is said to be anti-toxic and helps with digestion
  • Helps with circulation
  • Stimulates the appetite
  • Contains a good amount of antioxidants (helps with anti-aging)

Any precautions?

  • Consume with moderation
  • Its oils are a potential skin irritant when used in high concentrations