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’l 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 Soup Name: 冬瓜盅 (dōng guā zhōng)
For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.
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.
Soaking dried Chinese mushrooms
Soaking dried shrimp and conpoys
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.
Cubed Chinese mushrooms
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!
Emptying the middle of 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.
Cube the winter melon
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.
Fry the dried conpoys and shrimp
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.
Add in the raw shrimp and pork
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!
Your medley of meats 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.
Soup in progress
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.
Setting up the winter melon for double-boil
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!
Soup into the winter melon – ready for double-boiling!
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!
Ready to serve when the winter melon flesh is translucent
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!
Go ahead, scoop it all out!
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!
Double-boiled Whole Winter Melon Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
Serves: 8 bowls
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
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
10 small dried Chinese mushrooms
5 fresh straw mushrooms
Soak your dried Chinese ingredients in warm water for 10-15 minutes (Chinese mushrooms, conpoys, shrimp)
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.
Cut all your ingredients into cubes – Chinese mushrooms (removing the stems), straw mushrooms, any left over winter melon, fresh shrimp, fresh pork
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cornstarch and oil to your fresh shrimp and pork and mix
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
Throw in the raw shrimp and pork and fry for another 5 minutes
Keep on medium heat, add in 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts boiling water
Add in the remaining winter melon flesh and straw mushrooms
Boil on medium for 30 minutes
In your double-boiler, raise your winter melon (in a metal deep dish) and add hot water.
Once your soup boils, scoop in enough stuff and soup to fill the winter melon.
Boil on medium high for 30 minutes – or until the winter melon flesh is translucent.
Serve all, including scooping the winter melon flesh and enjoy!
This classic traditional Chinese dessert has been enjoyed throughout generations (even when I was little and when my parents were little). Common in most dessert houses and even served as dessert at the end of Cantonese meals, this almond packed dessert is smooth, slightly sweet, creamy and absolutely healthy! Almonds are known to reduce risk of heart problems and lowers LDL-cholesterol (the bad kind!). Actually, nuts.com has a very comprehensive review of the benefits of almonds. I need to think of more ways to incorporate almonds into my diet! For the Chinese, they say that this soup helps smooth the skin and keep it silky and white.
Almonds are a very common ingredient found in both Chinese soups, desserts, foods – especially the South and North kinds that are commonly used in soups. For this one, I went with western almonds bought in a supermarket already peeled. This sweet soup was far easier to make than I thought and can be consumed both warm or cold.
Sweet Chinese Almond Dessert Soup
Traditional Chinese Name:
杏仁茶 (xìng rén chá)
For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.
To start, all you need is: raw almonds, rock sugar, raw rice, water and egg whites. What? That’s it? Haha… yes.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 25 mins Serves: 4 bowls
200 g of raw almonds
800 mL of water
30 g of white rice
40 g of rock sugar
1 egg white
Soak your almonds in cool water for 4-5 hours to soften
Drain water and in a blender, add about 600 mL of cool water, the almonds and 30 g of white rice
Blend until smooth or very fine (liquefied as much as possible) – you can add more water to bring the level up to 800 mL at this point (or just start with 800 mL of water)
Strain the liquid through a fine mesh bag into a pot
Bring to a medium boil and boil for 10 minutes, while continuously stirring – you can throw in the rock sugar as it comes to boil and ensure it completely dissolves
Add in an egg white and continuously stir for another 5 minutes
Serve and enjoy!
Start soaking your almonds in cool water for about 3-4 hours. This will soften them, especially if you still have the skin on them, this will help you peel them so much easier. About 200 g of almonds will make 2 bowls, so what you see here is enough for 4 bowls.
Drain the water and refill with cool water into the bowl. This water and almonds will be the base of the dessert. I then throw this into a blender with 30g of white rice (I personally will use whatever is in the pantry, which was Thai long grained white rice at the time). Do note that I actually add more water later to make 800 mL worth total. This will significantly reduce when you strain the almonds through a fine mesh.
It takes a bit of grinding, but do work to grind as much and as fine as you can the almond mixture. Here, you can see that it’s not yet quite as fine as it could be, so it took a bit of maneuvering up and down and sideways to get as much of the bulk to the bottom to grind further. Helps work your forearms and biceps. Keep going!
When you hear the blend spin pretty consistently and you can move the blender around, the mixture should be fine enough to strain and cook. It’s so beautiful that it almost looks like snow!
Push it ALL through a very fine mesh bag. This will separate the almond milk dessert from the grains. Some people like a little bit of the grainy parts, so add that if you’d like to your dessert. It’s completely up to you!
You should now have a very smooth, creamy almond milk-like liquid. Turn on the heat to a medium heat and bring the almond milk to a slow boil for about 10 minutes, continuously stirring the mixture.
Once it boils, add in the rock sugar. I used about 40 g, which isn’t too sweet – just perfect. Adjust accordingly depending on your taste. Don’t forget to continuously stir as well and boil for another 5 minutes or until the rock sugar dissolves completely. As tradition calls, slowly stream in 1 egg white while stirring to ensure consistency and then turn off heat and serve!
My second project using the new double-boiler! I found a very simple, but delicious apple and pear Chinese soup with pork and chicken and Chinese herbs. This is a pretty traditional Chinese soup and can be made both with or without double-boiling. The purpose of double-boiling is really to maintain density of the flavours and lock in (better than regular boiling) all that goodness. I’d almost argue that using a thermal pot is similar to double-boiling. Double-boiled soups are normally made in the winter because they can be more potent and provide extra punch and warmth. This soup is awesomely yummy! It is designed to help soothe and moisten the throat and lungs. Most Chinese double-boiled soups use both chicken and pork. Even if you use a silkie chicken, the Chinese will throw in a small piece of pork shank. This makes the soup very sweet and rich in flavours.
Soup Name: Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup
Traditional Chinese Soup Name: 蘋果雪梨燉雞湯 (píng guǒ xuě lí dùn jī tāng)
To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.
For this recipe, you’ll need: A bunch of Chinese herbs (in mine, I have dried dates, dried longans, dried conpoys or scallops, dried Chinese yam, and wolfberries), some pork, a whole chicken, fuji apples, and snow pears.
To start, soak you herbs in warm water to soften. You can also scrub the Chinese Yam in running water before soaking to rinse off the sulphur that is sometimes used to process it. I just eyeball the amount of each herbs depending on the size of the pot, so it’s literally a handful of this and handful of that.
Soaking herbs ready for soup
Prepare your meats by removing as much fat as possible. This means, going with lean pork shank and removing all the skin and fat from the chicken. I tried to get as small as a chicken as possible because my pot isn’t that big – in a previous post, I used chicken drumsticks – which work perfectly because of their size, portions and you get both bone and meat. In a separate pot, blanch the meats in boiling hot water for 5 minutes to remove scum, oil, dirt, blood and any extras that like to make their way out of the bones and meat and into your soup. Once blanched, remove the meat from the soup and set aside to cool and to add to your soup later.
My overly ambitious portions of meat – a mix of pork and chicken
Keep the skin on the apples and snow pears. Firstly, this will help keep them intact and not disintegrate too much into the soup and secondly, it will help you scoop it out when you need to. Plus, the skin has its own unique flavour too – just be sure to rinse really well!
Start boiling your double-boiler (inner pot) outside on the stove with half the volume of water that the container will hold. It’s easier to add more water later if you need to top up. When the water more or less boils, throw all the ingredients into the pot. In my case, I can say OOPS! I was still missing one snow pear and 1 apple and ended up removing the ends of the drumsticks to make it all squeeze in. See, it’s all sticking out!
Adding all the ingredients into the double-boiler
Double-boil for 30 minutes first
Cover (if you can) and set to let it boil on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Do note that snow pears actually RELEASE more water as it boils, so the risk that it spills over is almost certain!
My double-boiled soup now overspilling!
After 30 minutes of medium boil, turn off the heat and let the pot cool. Once it cools sufficiently for you to put into its outer double-boiler, add the inner pot into the larger outer pot. You can add water later – but when you add water to the outer pot – add hot water! This will reduce the temperature flux of your inner pot. Fill it with enough water so that you can cover the inner double-boiler and this outer pot water won’t spill into the double-boiler. Cover and set on a low boil (you can still see small bubbles) for about 3 hours.
The double-boiler inside an outer pot
You’ll know your soup is progressing well when you see the pears and apples and colour of the soup turn into a rich golden liquid. Most double-boiled soups some in this golden colour and you’ll know that the flavours are intense and rich.
Rich soup colour of the double-boiled soup when it’s almost ready
Once your soup is ready, scoop out whatever you’d like and serve HOT! NO SALT NEEDED! That’s how sweet it is! Some people will like to eat the meats, dipped on soy sauce – by all means, do it! The meat is delicious as well. In my situation, I had leftover fruit, so I simply drank 2 bowls the size of rice bowls, threw in the rest of the fruit and added some more water and continued to double-boil it for another hour until dinner. Enjoy! I certainly did!
Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Soup
Double-boiled Apple and Pear Chinese Herbal Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Serves: 6 soup bowls
1 whole fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chicken-whole/”]chicken[/url], cut small (skin removed)
1/2 pound of fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/pork-shank/”]pork shank[/url], cut small
1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/scallops-dried-conpoy/”]dried conpoy[/url]
1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/wolfberries-dried/”]dried wolfberries[/url]
1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/longan-dried/”]dried longans[/url]
1 tablespoon of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/red-dates/”]dried red dates[/url]
3 pieces of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chinese-yam-dried/”]dried Chinese Yam[/url]
I know, the orzo doesn’t make it very Chinese, but my family loves small-sized pasta that I decided to turn this soup into a solid meal for the children. This is another quick boil vegetarian soup that can be done in under 30 minutes. For my kids, I added pan-fried sausages on top for some protein, but you can always consider adding tofu or even egg drops! This recipe was inspired by another mommy on instagram – you can follow @TheChineseSoupLady for my adventures of “souping”.
Soup Name: Vegetarian Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes and Corn Broth with Orzo
To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.
For this recipe, you’ll need: Sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, fresh corn and vegetable broth is optional, or for those who prefer meat, you can add the preserved Chinese Ham or chicken / beef broth.
To start, you can begin boiling your soup water, which I use around 3L of water. Like most quick boils, the ingredients need to be cut small so that they can cook quickly. I would normally recommend ingredients like onions, leafy greens, melons to be cut smaller, but because potatoes and sweet potatoes melt into soups or self disintegrate, I cut them bigger – roughly 1 cubic inch will suffice.
Cubed sweet potatoes and potatoes
If your soup water has boiled, just dump in your chopped potatoes into the soup, but if it’s still work in progress, I’d recommend soaking the potatoes and sweet potatoes in warm water until you can use them or they will brown and then stay brown in the soup and just doesn’t look as appealing.
Cubed sweet potatoes and potatoes
I also shuck the corn. This is another recommended technique for quick boil soups because the corn will cook faster. Don’t throw away the cob! You can use these as part of your soup base and heightens the sweet flavours. You can just simply snap the cobs into halves with your hands once they have been shucked. Makes me feel strong – grrrr!
Shucked corn is best for quick boil soups
Use the cobs as part of your soup base!
At this point, you can throw it all into your soup if the water’s boiled. Add some vegetable, chicken, or beef broth to heighten flavours or throw in 2 slices of preserved Chinese Ham. At this point, you can start preparing the orzo – which is simply to throw as much as you can eat (without wastage) into a pot of slightly salted water for about 7-9 minutes. Once the orzo is done – you can try a few to make sure it’s soft enough to your liking, drain and rinse under running cold water. This will help ensure it’s stopped cooking and won’t stick to each other. I personally don’t mind soaking in cold water.
This next part is about adding some additional ingredients that the children don’t like, but I do! I’ll pan fry diced garlic and onions to use as a garnish for the soup. If I could, I’d probably throw in the onions into the soup base as well! Actually, come to think of it, I could eat the garlic and onion garnish just by itself… a little bit of salt and omigosh – so delicious!
Delicious garnish for the soup
Interestingly enough, this sets the beginning for a chowder soup, but because I’m keeping it Asian-styled, I don’t go chowder. Once the soup has boiled on medium heat for 30 minutes, you can salt if you’d like, but be sure to taste it first. If you’re using Chinese ham, I wouldn’t recommend more salt.
In a bowl, scoop as much or as little orzo as you can eat and then scoop your boiling, hot soup on top. Then garnish with the onions, garlic or a bit of parsley if have and ta-da – your meal. Again, for the children, I topped with pan-fried sausages, but you can really add anything you’d like that will put a smile on your face. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Potato with Corn Soup
Vegetarian Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes and Corn Broth with Orzo
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
2 large [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/sweet-potatoe/”]sweet potatoes[/url], peeled and largely cubed
2 large [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/potatoes/”]potatoes[/url], peeled and largely cubed
1 white [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/onions-fresh/”]onion[/url], peeled and diced
Lobster is a popular seafood in Chinese cuisine. Traditionally, it can be fried with ginger and scallions, or for a modern take, Chinese restaurants are increasingly offering lobster cooked in a creamy cheese sauce atop a bed of tender egg noodles. As with most proteins, when you’re finished eating the actual dish, don’t toss the left-over bones or shells! Save them because they can be used to create a delicious soup instead. Lobster shells are the perfect base for a seafood broth, particularly the head which contains a lot of the rich creamy roe and flavours.
Soup Name: Lobster Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 龍蝦湯 (lóngxiā tāng)
For this particular soup, we quickly devoured the meat of three small, boiled lobsters (we dipped the meat in salted butter of course) and carefully saved the shells, including the back, legs, claws and especially the whole heads. When making lobster broth, leaving the meat in the shells seems wasteful as I don’t feel the meat contributes that much flavour to the richness of the broth, so feel free to enjoy the meat separately first.
In the below recipe, stir-frying the ingredients first is optional — however I find it does help to bring out the flavours, particularly if the shells are slightly caramelized around the outside. Also, feel free to add carrots and other root vegetables to create a hearty, healthy meal.
As a tip, when making any seafood soup (or seafood dish), one of the key ingredients when cooking in a Chinese-style is to use fresh ginger. Not only does ginger add to the complex flavours of the seafood, it is also key because it cuts through any potential fishy tastes and smells.
The below recipe can be used stand-alone (as a soup), as the soup base for noodles, or it can also be poured on top of cooked rice to make a sort of lazy Chiu Chow-style congee. Enjoy!
Recipe Type: Soup
Serves: 6 bowls
2 L water
3 lobster shells (with head)
5 slices of ginger
1 garlic clove
1 small onion
1 stalk, spring onion
Salt to taste
Start boiling the water in a large soup pot
Stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger in 1 tbsp of cooking oil for 3 minutes until onions are soft (stir-frying is optional, but will help to enhance the flavours)
Add the lobster shells and spring onion and stir-fry for another 5 minutes (optional)
Put everything into the soup water (on high heat)
When the water is boiling, turn down the heat to medium and continue to boil for 1 hour.
Once in a while, use the [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/oil-scooper/”]oil scooper[/url] to scoop out extra oil and foam that may rise to the surface