Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht Soup

Soup Name:

Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht (with oxtail)

Traditional Chinese Name:

羅宋湯 (luó sòng tāng)

Nature:  Warming

Taste: Savory, sweet, and slightly sour

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

 

Did you know the secret ingredient to an HK-styled Russian Borscht is Worcestershire sauce (and some lemon juice)?

Falling off the bone oxtail?

Soft delicious veggies?

Savory and a hint of tart delicious broth?

Yes, the Hong Kong Styled Russian Borscht is a classically adopted fusion soup that is very different and uniquely different to the traditional European borscht (no beetroots or cream).  Instead, it’s a tomato based beef broth and a range of choice vegetables diced small. 

I love the subtle tart flavours of the soup, but yet incredibly savory and hearty.  This soup indeed eats like a meal!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 120 minutes 

Total time: 150 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 full oxtail
  • Optional pieces of beef flank
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and largely cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and largely cubed
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and largely cubed2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, slicked thin
  • 3 dried dates
  • Fresh green onions

Flavouring

  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons or Worcestershire sauce
  • 11-12 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. In your soup pot, with a bit of oil on med heat, pan fry the garlic cloves and oxtails until golden brown and fragrant (they smell so good!).  I don’t blanch and will do this instead.
  2. Add the cubed beef flanks and potatoes, allowing them to also brown nicely
  3. Add in your soup water, about 11-12 cups of water and turn on high heat
  4. I will then drop in my vegetables, tomatoes, celery, onion, carrots, and the dried dates
  5. Cover and let it come to a full boil, then reduce to med heat for another 1.5 hours
  6. Here you can now add in the flavouring of the soup (this is what really makes it distinct as a the HK-styled Russian Borscht)
  7. I will also throw in the cabbage
  8. Cover and let that simmer for another 30 minutes
  9. Garnish with fresh green onions, serve, and enjoy!

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What are good replacement ingredients for peanut allergies in Chinese Soups?

What are good replacement ingredients for peanut allergies in Chinese Soups?

Here are suggestions for replacement ingredients for peanuts in Chinese soups

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.  

You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

Principles for soup making for peanut replacements…

My selection of replacement ingredients are primarily based on a few factors:

  • Maintaining the same flavour profiles that peanuts would otherwise provide (that rich, earthy, dark tone)
  • Staying with ingredients that are still vegetarian (or vegan)
  • Pantry friendly ingredients make replacing easy.  Peanuts are an easy ingredient to use (especially prepared peanuts), so to mirror the same effort, it is important that I’m not creating more work in soup making! 

Research suggests that avoiding all nuts is overkill…

According to a 2017 article published in Forbes, “most people with a peanut allergy aren’t allergic to tree nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts and the like—while most people who are allergic to a particular tree nut can safely eat others, scientists have found.” [Reference 1]

And from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Fewer than 5-10% of peanut allergic people have an allergy to other legumes. The majority of individuals with peanut allergy are also able to tolerate tree nuts (almond, Brazil nut, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut).” [Reference 2]

    What other ingredients have worked for you to replace peanuts (for allergies) in Chinese soups?

    Why I like using other tree nuts (in replacements of peanuts) in Chinese soups…

    I particularly like using chestnuts and walnuts, although chestnuts more.  Chestnuts are super tasty in their own right and even more so when roasted!  There are 2 options with chestnuts:

    • You can buy them fresh from the supermarkets.  I’ve tried both pre-roasting and non-roasted for soups.  Equally delicious, but also equally quite a bit of work!
    • You can buy prepared chestnuts (pre-roasted or pre-peeled).  They are usually sold as snacks and come in the perfect portion. I will also keep a stash of this in my pantry.  (LOL, the more I post, the more I realize I have so many things in my pantry on a regular basis… I may as well become a supermarket).

    TIPs for extracting chestnuts:

    • Use a heavy knife (or hammer) to hit the chestnuts directly to split them open.  You may need a few entry points, but once you feel the chestnut can split from its shell, that’s perfect.
    • I don’t mind keeping the outer skin of the chestnuts.  It will eventually come out during cooking as it shrinks differently from the chestnut flesh itself.  You can remove this after roasting or boiling in soups.
    • Fresh chestnuts are firm and completely filled in its shell.  As the chestnut dries out, you’ll be able to feel air pockets in it as you squeeze on them.  When the chestnuts aren’t fresh, they aren’t as flavourful, but can still be used.  Just use more!  So long as they haven’t gone bad.

    Why I also like dried mushrooms…

    Some dried mushrooms carry that same rich, earthy tones that peanuts can also produce.  This allows the peanut replacement to hold the same flavour profile as the soup was originally designed for.  For examples:

    • If I’m using lotus roots (or arrow roots), adding mushrooms is quite complimentary and eliminating peanuts doesn’t change the taste of the soups.

    Thank you for the additions!

    My community definitely delivers and you guys are so full of great ideas and suggestions.

    The other amazing peanut substitutes include:

    • lotus seeds – YES!  I completely forgot about this ingredient which is actually a seed and not a nut!  It does carry the same nutty, earthy tones and are often used in Chinese soups, desserts, and stews.
    • gingko nuts – ALSO A YES!  I am a huge fan of gingko biloba nuts.  These starchy and rich nuts are said to be amazing for your brain and memory!  They are often used in desserts, soups, and stews.  

     

       

      1. Ritalrubin@gmail.com (2017) Avoiding all nuts simply because you’re allergic to one might be, well, Nutty, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2017/03/28/avoiding-all-nuts-simply-because-youre-allergic-to-one-might-be-well-nutty/?sh=71cfab0d4a1b (Accessed: 27 November 2023).
      2. Everything you need to know about peanut allergy (no date) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/peanut-allergy (Accessed: 27 November 2023).

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      Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

      Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

      Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

      Soup Name:

      Healing Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup with Fish Maw

      Traditional Chinese Name:

      花膠雞湯 (huā jiāo jī tāng)

      Nature:  Warming

      Taste: Sweet and savory

      For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

       

      The star of this soup is FISH MAW.  This takes collagen to the next level! 

      This soup is packed with natural collagens that help retain moisture, firmness, and bounce in the skin.

      To make this soup, you’ll need to plan it a few days in advance because of the fish maw preparation.  I would suggest allowing 2-4 days to fully hydrate your dried fish maw.  This depends on the size and quality of the fish maw.

      A few tips for preparing your fish maw:

      • I like soaking them in a glass bowl.  That way, I can see it in the fridge when I open and close the fridge door as it soaks.  You can check for murky water, spots on the fish maw, and generally that it’s soaking cleanly as it should.
      • I use tap water (in Canada), although some people recommend using cold boiled water as it’s cleaner
      • After they’ve soaked, I will also flash blanch them in boiling hot water (after the water boils with my blanching chicken since I’m blanching anyways)
      • Cut the fish maw after soaking them.  They’ll be sufficiently soft.

       

      What makes this soup amazing?

      • For starters, it’s collagen packed!  Interesting fact though is that fish skin has more collagen than fish maw (according to this one study [source 1])!!!  I guess I’m going back to fish skin as an ingredient as it’s also way cheaper!
      • You don’t need salt or any other flavoring for this soup.  Don’t even think about adding chicken broth (I usually don’t for Chinese soups)!
      • This is a great soup base for other vegetables or additives should you choose to embark on this mission.
      • It’s a hearty soup which can double as a meal (just add rice!)
      • It’s PERFECT for postpartum, as it’s a warm soup with healing ingredients.

      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

      What’s involved?

      Pre-work: 2-4 days to soak & hydrate the fish maw

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 120 minutes 

      Total time: 150 mins

      Serves: 8 bowls

      Ingredients

      Cooking Instructions

      1. With the pre-soaked and re-hydrated fish maw, I will remove them from the fridge, strain out the water, and slice into 1-inch thick pieces (or however you’d like to eat them basically)
      2. At this time, you can prepare your chicken however you’d like.  I usually save the 2 breasts for a meal, keeping only the bones and thighs and feet.  
      3. In a separate blanching pot with cold water, add in as much water to fully cover the chicken and 2 slices of fresh ginger and add in your fresh chicken (there is much debate about whether to blanch in cold or hot water, but I have found it!  Incoming post!).  Use high heat to bring to a full boil.  You’ll begin to see the foam, debris, blood, and bones surface.  Just be careful it doesn’t overboil!
      4. As your blanching water comes to a boil, flash boil your sliced fish maw by dropping them in and fishing them out right away(just to be sure all the impurities are boiled out)
      5. At this point you can set your blanching pot aside and strain
      6. In your soup pot, add a teaspoon of oil and panfry a few slices of ginger with your fresh (or defrosted) abalone on med heat until they are golden brown.
      7. I will also throw in largely cut potatoes at this time and brown them a bit as well.
      8. Add your soup water and turn this on high heat
      9. Then add in the rest of the ingredients:  dried red dates, dried longans, dried sugar dates, dried Chinese Yam (or fresh), and dried scallops.  Cover and continue to boil on high heat for 30 minutes.  Once this is bubbling along nicely, I’ll reduce to a med high boil, still covered. 
      10. Boil for another 1.5 hours.
      11. At this point, you can drop in your prepared fish maw and let that boil for another 30 minutes on med high heat.
      12. Serve and enjoy!
      1. Cruz-López, Honorio et al. “Comparison of collagen characteristic from the skin and swim bladder of Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus).” Tissue & cell vol. 72 (2021): 101593. doi:10.1016/j.tice.2021.101593

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      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner

      Soup Name:

      Delicious One Pot Vegetable Vermicelli Soup for Dinner.  Literal translation from Chinese is “Mixed vegetables vermicelli pot soup”.

      Traditional Chinese Name:

      雜菜粉絲鍋湯 (zá cài fěnsī guō tāng)

      Nature:  Neutral

      Taste: Sweet and savory

      For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

       

      We literally served this one-pot meal in the middle of the table with bowls and chopsticks and chowed down!

      The final product!

      So this soup sets a great soup base for your choice of meats and toppings.

      I added on top:

      • Dried red dates
      • Dried longans
      • Fresh chicken breast slices
      • Fish cakes
      • Fish cakes with mochi middles
      • Fish balls with Unagi stuffing

      You could think of it like a hot pot, but the idea is to boil it all in one place so it’s ready to serve and eat right away.  

      GET CREATIVE!

       

      What’s involved?

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 30 minutes 

      Total time: 60 mins

      Serves: 8 bowls

      Ingredients

      Soup base:

      • 1 piece of chicken thigh (marinade is soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil) – be a chef… use any proportions that make sense 🙂 
      • 1 pack of dried green bean (mung bean) vermicelli
      • 1 fresh white radish, thinly sliced
      • 2 potatoes, thinly sliced
      • Mix of fresh green vegetables (I used, baby napa cabbage, cabbage, broccoli)
      • fresh green onions
      • 5 dried red dates
      • 5 dried longans
      • 2 L of water

      Cooking Instructions

      1. In a bowl, take out your dried green bean vermicelli and add in cold water, ensuring it’s completely covered and let it soak (to soften)
      2. Cut your chicken thigh into one-inch strips and marinade with soy sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil (I eyeballed the proportions but used about 1 teaspoon of soy, half a teaspoon of white pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil)
      3. In your soup pot, add 1 teaspoon of oil on medium heat and panfry your chicken thighs until they are golden brown
      4. Add in your peeled and thinly sliced potatoes into the pot, panfrying the sides until they are golden
      5. Add in 2L of water to your pot
      6. Cover and let it come to a boil on high heat
      7. Reduce heat and add in the sliced white radish, dried red dates, and dried longans
      8. Cover and let that gently boil for 45 minutes
      9. In the final 15 minutes, add in your softened green bean vermicelli and all the vegetables into the pot covered
      10. Everything should be nicely softened and ready to eat!
      11. Your choice now to add other ingredients (like you would with hotpot).  In this case, I added fresh chicken meat (thinly sliced), random selection of fish balls.
      12. Garnish with fresh green onions
      13. Serve and enjoy!

      Tips for making this soup:

      • For a more neutral soup, use neutral vegetables (both in nature and in taste) such as leafy greens like napa cabbage, cabbage, broccoli, gai lan, choy sum
      • Vegetables such as watercress are more cooling and spinach as a particular unique taste that may throw off the soup
      • Add in a few Chinese herbs of choice that are slightly more warm (such as dried red dates, dried longans, even 1 piece of dong quai would be amazing!)
      • Chop your root vegetables thin like the potatoes and white radish.  It makes it easier to cook and eat.  This is literally a quick boil soup!  So you want your ingredients to cook quickly and thoroughly.
      • Get creative with the vegetable base!
      • Vermicelli and vegetables go last.  They cook really fast!

      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

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      ABC Soup in a Collagen Rich Salmon Head and Chicken Feet Broth

      ABC Soup in a Collagen Rich Salmon Head and Chicken Feet Broth

      ABC Soup in a Collagen Rich Salmon Head and Chicken Feet Broth

      Soup Name:

      ABC Chinese Soup in a collagen rich Salmon Broth (with Chicken Feet)

      Traditional Chinese Name:

      雜菜蕃茄三文魚湯 (zá cài fānjiā sānwènyú tāng)

      Nature:  Slightly cooling

      Taste: Sweet and savory

      For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

       

      Taking collagen to the next level!  This soup is packed with natural collagens that help retain moisture, firmness, and bounce in the skin.

      What does a jelly soup mean?  (Without using thickeners like corn starch or flour).

      It means… it’s got copious amounts of natural collagens!

      There are so many ingredients within Chinese soups that allow for natural collagens to seep out into the soup for natural and healthy glowing skin!

      This one combines the salmon head and chicken feet!  Just look at how viscous the soup is, it’s probably bordering being a solid!  Full video below on how to make this soup!

       

      What’s involved?

      Prep time: 30 mins

      Cook time: 90 minutes 

      Total time: 120 mins

      Serves: 8 bowls

      Ingredients

      • 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
      • 2 fresh salmon heads

      • 5-7 fresh chicken feet
      • 3 fresh potatoes
      • 2 fresh tomatoes
      • 1 fresh corn
      • 1 tablespoon of dried scallops
      • 5 pieces of dried Chinese yam
      • 2L of water
      • fresh green onions to garnish

      Cooking Instructions

      1. Wash and clean the salmon heads, ensuring they are sliced in half (you can get the fish butcher at your market to do this, or if you buy packaged, they are usually precut)
      2. In a shallow pan, add some oil and ginger on medium heat and pan fry the salmon head until the skin and both sides are slightly crispy
      3. Optional step to remove the nails of the chicken feet by either cutting them off with scissors to the first knuckle or chopping with a knife
      4. In your soup pot, begin to boil your soup water on high heat.  Once boiling, add in the cooked salmon head along with the chicken feet.  You can also add the dried scallops and the dried Chinese Yam. (I will add the salmon head into a soup bag first for easier disposal later).
      5. Wash, peel and chop potatoes into large chunks (not too small else they will disintegrate quickly into the soup).  
      6. Wash and chop the corn into 3-4 pieces.
      7. Wash and quarter your tomatoes.
      8. Add in chopped potatoes, corn, and tomatoes into the soup.
      9. Cover and reduce to a medium boil for about 90 minutes.  The longer you boil out the soup, the more the collagen comes out of the salmon head and chicken feet.
      10. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

      How to get this jelly like soup?

      • To get that thick consistency and jelly like soup, I allowed it to low boil for another few hours and kept it in the pot until the evening, strained all the ingredients and kept just the broth in a bowl and put it in the fridge.
      • You can reheat in a small pot the day after and it is still as delicious! 
      • But this really was my experiment to show you the beautiful collagen in the soup.  It’s not as obvious as a liquid, but when cooled, it looks amazing!

      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

      Tips for making (and eating) this soup:

      • You can actually directly pan fry the fish in the pot (it saves one pot of washing)
      • Use a soup bag!  These things are so useful when you want to clean up or strain the soup for later.  However, open the bag… there is a lot of fish meat on the heads, which all contain healthy fats and more collagen!  And the fish cheeks!  Do you know the story of the fish cheeks?  I’ll have to tell it one day! LOL.
      • Don’t forget to scoop out the extra fat, oil, and bits from the soup before serving.  There isn’t a lot from the type of proteins used, but the chicken feet will have a bit.

      For videos, visit us on YouTube. 

      EQUIPMENT USED

      To answer your questions on what equipment I'm using, I've built a section here where you can find and explore what I'm using to make soups.  Ingredients are a little harder, but I will do my best as I source them around.  However, you can always message me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook, and I will reply and try to point you in some direction!  

      A great help for fish or small bones in soups, including small ingredients such as barley, fox nuts, spices just to keep everything together.

      A MUST HAVE in the kitchen!  Energy saving, cost effective, and perfect for busy chefs!  Check out my article here that explains it.

      Another MUST HAVE in the kitchen for soups!  It's so fine that it will scoop off the top oil and foam layer when using meats in your soup!

      I use these types of stove top safe tea pots to make most of my herbal teas!

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      5 Tips for Exercising in the Cold (from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective)

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      5 Tips for Exercising in the Cold 

      (from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective)

      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.  

      You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

      What’s the coldest you can exercise in outdoors?

      From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, there exists a balance between hot vs cold and moisture vs dryness. 

      It’s typically looked at in this light where you can have excess yang (heat) in the body, but is it a dry heat or an excess moisture heat?  The same applies for excess yin (cold).  Is this a dry excess yin or excess moisture in yin?  

      This is where it also depends on external conditions, such as Toronto in the winter yields a dry cold, whereas in Hong Kong, it’s a wet (humid) cold.  

      It’s important to pay attention to how these conditions then blend with how you’re feeling internally.

      Get to know your own body…

      How aware are you of your own body?

      How aware are you of how your body reacts in different conditions?

      Each of us are created uniquely and beautifully.  This is where one person’s condition and reaction are different from another person’s, even in the same external environment and diets!

      Here’s a tip to develop an awareness of yourself.

      • Be best friends with your tongue.  Take a pause to notice how it feels (Are there are any rough spots? Any ridges?).  Stick it out when you’re brushing your teeth.  How is its color?  Any ridges?  
      • Signs of excess yang (or yin deficiency) can include a rough feeling tongue, canker or cold sores, rough patches, or extra red tongue.  It’s not by any means a diagnosis, but here’s where I’ll stop eating fried foods, stop drinking warming soups, and substitute for something like a cooling chrysanthemum herbal tea.

      I would love to hear if you’ve got other ideas!  Drop them in the comments or any of my social channels and I’ll give you a shout out and add it to the post!

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