I was inspired to make this soup one day when I walked by the wet mart and saw the vendor carving up this giant fresh winter melon and I thought, “Gosh, that’s be amazing to use!”. I didn’t want to make a soup that day, but really wanted something savory, tasty, and soft. So another way to make winter melon is to stew it! And normally, you can pair winter melon with Chinese ham, but I went for a western spin and decided to make a fusion version with Parma Ham instead (which is equally salty).
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-5 people
1 slice of fresh winter melon (about 2-3 inches thick is good)
1 bowl of smaller dried Chinese mushrooms
1 bowl of fresh, cored gingko bilobas
1 pack of Parma Ham
9-10 cloves of fresh garlic
A sprinkling of preserved Chinese vegetables
Start by soaking the Chinese mushrooms in room temperature water for about an hour to soften them
I like to use giant butcher’s knives for chopping most things because the weight and leverage just lessens the work! Chop your winter melon into large-sized pieces, removing the seeds and keeping the skin. This will help keep in place as it softens in your stew and not disintegrate into a million pieces and become blah…
The go about removing the ends of the mushrooms. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job!
In your soup pot, with a bit of oil and on medium heat, pan fry the garlic cloves until they are brown (and smell yummy!), then you toss in the mushroom and pan fry for about 3 minutes.
Drop in the gingko bilobas and also fry for 3 minutes
Then you extract the Parma Ham and just place it on top of the other ingredients and stir slightly
Add in 2 cups of boiling water and a sprinkling of Chinese preserved vegetables and mix it altogether
Cover and boil for 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while so it doesn’t stick, or that you still have enough liquid in the pot
I made this after work one day and managed to pick up fresh veggies and meat from the wet mart on the way home. Sometimes I plan for soup, sometimes I don’t, and this soup is one of those last minute made-up combinations because I felt like having meatballs and bitter melon at the same time!
The pork meatballs are a substitute for the pork bones and I could eat them along with my soup. I also made extra and froze for a rainy day so I could pan fry – no wasted efforts! The bitter melon is also cooling, helps relieve heat in my body, and helps relieve that painful tongue after eating too much fried food.
Soup Name: Bitter Melon with Corn and Pork Meatballs Soup
Traditional Chinese Soup Name: 簡單菜湯 (Jiǎn dān cài tāng)
For the whole recipe and to skip my commentary, scroll down.
To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh bitter melon, a pack of fresh ginkgo biloba, 2 fresh corn, ground pork, 1 egg, 1 fresh onion, and your favourite spices.
For the quick boil, you’ll need to have smaller slices of bitter melon and corn. In general, quick boils cook for around 30 minutes and you want to maximize the amount of flavour that is extracted during this time.
As soon as I can, I start boiling water and throw in whatever I can to save time. This means, the corn is washed and cut first and just dumped in.
The first thing to do is boil the soup water. Corn is easiest!
While that’s making it’s way to boiling, I will prep the bitter melon. Some people prefer to peel the skin, some don’t. I personally keep on the skin because it helps keep the bitter melons from disintegrating like melons do in Chinese soups. Slice the bitter melon in half right down the length of the middle and with a metal spoon, just scrape the seeds and insides away. Then slice the melons into thin half crescents and drop that into your soup, too. Throw in the ginkgo biloba as well.
Prepping bitter melon
Sliced bitter melon
Corn and bitter melon in the soup
The meatballs are also a made up recipe based on other meatball recipes I’ve made. I used half a white onion (diced), 1 egg, and a ménage of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, and pepper.
Making the meatballs
Using my hands, I mashed it all together. The Chinese have this hand prepped way of making “steamed pork patty” by really blending the ground pork until the fat gets “stringy”. I used the same technique (and duration of mixing). Once everything is nicely blended, I rolled the meatballs into bite-sized balls and set that aside until I know the water is boiling. This is where it matters, because the idea is to drop the balls so that they cook immediately and hold their form.
Pork meatballs ready for soup
Bitter Melon with corn and pork meatballs soup
You can add any type of broth powder or broth soup as you’d like. I put in one spoon of chicken broth powder just to help enhance the flavour because quick boils tend to have less intensity of flavours versus your traditional old fire soups.
Boil on high for 30 minutes and serve and enjoy! For a complete meal, throw in a scoop of white or brown rice and ta-da! dinner is served!
Quick boil bitter melon and corn with pork meatballs soup
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 is the start of the “Quick Boil Series” of soups. It was requested by a friend who wanted to know how to make healthy, but quick soups for those busy-body people. In general, quick boil soups take around 10 minutes to prepare and about 25-30 minutes to boil and contain easy-to-find, supermarket type ingredients that are readily available so not a lot of planning is required. This is one of my favourite quick boil soups – the winter melon. To start, quick boil soups usually require smaller cuts of vegetables or meats (so that they soften quicker and you can extract the flavours more quickly). The winter melon is a classic example of boiling it for around 30 minutes and you’ll find the flesh has become translucent and soft and edible. It’s simply delicious, suitable for the whole family and super easy to make!
Soup Name: Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 冬瓜冬菇 玉米 雞熬湯(dōng guā dōng gū yù mǐ jī Áo tāng)
To see the full recipe, scroll down to skip my commentary.
What you’ll need in the simplest of terms are: dried Chinese mushrooms, a handful of dried conpoys (or scallops), a slice of winter melon, fresh corn, chicken breast and either chicken broth or chicken broth powder. To be honest with you, I don’t really measure or scientifically size the ingredients, I just put whatever amount I feel like depending on what I like to eat – which is more corn and more winter melon, so just go with what you like. It is, after all, your soup.
Start with soaking the mushrooms and dried conpoys. You’ll need a good 5 minutes to get the mushroom stems nice and soft, so for those who don’t eat them or prefer not to eat them, you can cut them off and then quarter or slice the mushrooms thinly. I keep these mushrooms in the freezer and they have been there for 6 months plus and are still great!
Chinese mushrooms ready for soup!
Mushrooms soaking in prep for quick boil soup
During this time, you can begin to boil your soup water. For a family of four, I used about 3 L of water and had plenty to go around. You can then begin to peel and slice your winter melon. In normal old fire Chinese soups, I would keep the skin on, but for quick boils, I would recommend removing the skin. This way, the winter melon softens much quicker, but you can add the skin into the soup for flavour. The winter melons are normally sold like this (if they are the large ones). The vendors or supermarket will already pre-slice them for you, so simply shave the skin off lying it flat on one side.
After that, cube the winter melon so they are literally bite-sized. This makes them quicker to soften and cook and also, easier to eat!
cubed winter melon for soup
The next things to do are slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces as well. Keep them cubed and consistent with the size of the winter melons. No real reason other than the fact that it’s symmetrically similar and will also cook faster. You can also slice your mushrooms into cubes or into thin slices as pictured below. Similarly, bite-sized for ease of cooking.
Sliced Chinese mushrooms ready for soup
Same for the corn. The smaller the cut of the corn, the quicker it will cook and consistently “small” with the rest of the soup ingredients. In this case, I quartered them.
Fresh corn ready for soup
Once the water boils, throw all the ingredients together. People do ask me why I use boiling water in so many of my soup recipes, it’s because the immediate contact with heat cooks the meat or vegetables faster and prevents too much slow breakdown of the meat overtime and you’re able to save time by boiling it in parts.
Throwing all the ingredients together
Boil on high heat until it really comes to a big boil again – which should be about 5 minutes. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to a medium boil – but leave it covered (in order to maintain some pressure in the pot) for another 20 minutes. At this time, I will add either half a cup of chicken stock or 1 teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon. This way, enough time has passed for the flavours of the ingredients to come out and you can taste how much you want to further season the soup. Don’t forget to taste it along the way! You’ll know it’s close to being done with the chicken breast has turned complete white and opaque and your winter melon is a nice translucent colour.
Quick boil winter melon soup
Serve and enjoy! Don’t forget to scoop out the delicious ingredients to eat as part of your hearty soup.
Quick boil winter melon soup
Quick Boil Winter Melon, Mushrooms with Corn in Chicken Broth
Recipe Type: Soup
Serves: 4 bowls
2 medium-sized chicken breasts, bite-sized cubed
1 2-inch thick slice of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/winter-melon/” title=”fresh winter melon”]winter melon[/url], skinned and bite-sized cubed
Waste not, want not! Another satisfyingly delicious soup made with a left over ham bone (German-style from Berliner). All it takes is ONE BONE and it creates a very fragrant and amazing soup base for which to add any fresh vegetables or ingredients. Literally, no salt needed. I added my children’s favourites (they love the soup, but don’t really know what’s in it!), and as usual, included the corn as part of the meal. Don’t wash the ham bone, don’t rinse it, don’t do anything except throw it into your soup! You want it keep it tasting like it did from the restaurant and transfer all of that wonderful taste directly to the soup.
Soup Name: Chinese Radish, Carrots and Corn in Ham Bone Broth
Traditional Chinese Name: 青紅蘿蔔玉米湯 (qing hóng luóbo yù mǐ tāng)
Chinese Radish, Carrots and Corn in Ham Bone Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
1 half-eaten, barely finished Ham Bone (from any restaurant) – don’t wash it!
3 fresh [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/carrots/”]carrots[/url], chopped into large pieces
Another simple soup with a few ingredients you can pick up at your local grocery or wet mart. The winter melon is usually more readily available during the warmer months in HK, but beef and fish balls are in season all the time (yah, in the frozen section of your friendly supermarket). Use the simplest balls, that being beef and fish balls without any surprises on the inside (Taiwanese styled fish balls usually have exploding surprises, so avoid these). The flavors of the balls (mainly salt and whatever other marinades they use) will seep out and make your soup tasty, so don’t add salt unless you’ve tried it first. You can make this soup in about thirty minutes by simply throwing all the ingredients together. In this case, I separated the peel from the flesh so that the melon could soften quicker. In “old fire” wintermelon soups, I will keep the peel attached – but this is really up to personal preference.
Soup Name: Winter Melon and Beef and Fish Balls Soup
Traditional Chinese Name: 冬瓜湯 (dōng guā tāng)
Winter Melon and Beef and Fish Balls Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese Soup
1 large slice of [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/winter-melon/”]winter melon[/url], sliced with skin off (but the peel is also boiled as part of the soup)
10 precooked beef balls
10 precooked fish balls
2 L of water
Start boiling your soup water
Wash the winter melon skin and then peel the skin off the winter melon and cube the remaining winter melon flesh
Rinse the beef and fish balls in warm water
When the water boils, throw all the ingredients together
Boil on high for 30 minutes
Serve and enjoy!
[b]Any benefits?[/b][br][br]Excellent soup for children, especially during the heaty months[br]Winter melons are known to remove heatiness and helps detoxify the body[br]It is ideal in removing phelgm from the lungs[br]It is also particularly effective in regulating blood sugar levels[br][br][b]Any precautions?[/b][br][br]Like most melons, they will sour the soup the longer you keep it, so try to consume all of it in one day[br]Since it is a cooling food, it should be carefully consumed if pregnant (less than 3 months into term) or menstruating (can cause contractions)