What basic equipment do I need to get started in making Chinese soups?

What basic equipment do I need to get started in making Chinese soups?

WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED TO MAKE AMAZING CHINESE SOUPS?

Theoretically, a giant pot is all you need.  I mean, my ancestors certainly did it that way!  But of course, with technology and innovation comes a suite of tools that help us save effort, time, and resources in making delicious and amazing 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.

Links to all products below.  Please do support me if you wish to purchase through my amazon associates link.  Thanks so much for your continued support to produce content!

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What equipment do you need to make amazing Chinese soups?

 

SOUP POT!

Any pot will do.  I mean, any good quality, large pot, easy-to-clean, easy-to-use, sustainable, long life pot will do!  This is your life as a soup, in that pot!  I have a few, but the one I will also default to is my thermal pot.  I also use a cast iron one if I’m doing an all-in-one fry first and soup later.

You can find a Shuttle Chef Thermal Soup Pot here.  However, if you’re in Canada and can access Zojirushi products, that’s the one I’m using both in Hong Kong and in Toronto.

I will admit, I also use my rice cooker to make soup!!  It’s possible!  This makes 3-4 portions as I have a 5 cup sized Zojirushi rice cooker.  You can check out this video on how I was experimenting with making soup using a rice cooker because I was curious on how well it would turn out.  As it turns out, time and life savers for those busy bodied people!!

You can buy my exact rice cooker here on amazon.  It is AMAZING!

 

OIL SCOOPER!

A must have if you’re planning on using any ingredients that have oil, meat debris, or little pieces that will float up and out.  These fine meshed scoopers pick up almost anything except the soup.  I’ll use them right after some of the meats boil or right before service.  My mom (grandma) actually uses it like a sieve and pours out soup through it to catch anything her grandchildren may find in the soup.  That’s definitely another way to get creative with this tool!

I ended up buying a sturdier oil scooper here from Amazon.  I’ve also tried the $2 ones from Temu or the local Chinese supermarket, but these flip and flop around and end up snapping at the head over time.

 

SOUP BAG (FISH BAG, HERBAL BAG, MESH BAG)

This is also an amazing tool to have if you’ve got a lot of small herbs (such as barley, beans, apricot kernals, dried flowers) or any fish (especially smaller fish with bones).  This will keep these ingredients together so you don’t have to wade through them or sieve them out of the soup.  I am also a fan of the decomposable and environment-friendly ones, especially one that are reusable!  Just throw out all the used ingredients, flip inside out, and rinse it out with washing fluid like you would a towel.

Here’s are the soup bags that I use from Amazon that are reusable and environment-friendly!

 

SOUP LADLE

Any ladle will do!  But how else will you serve your soup?  The one I find I love using is my green rubbery one, which is heat resistant and dishwasher safe.  It’s pretty huge, scoops a lot of soup, washes easily, and is just overall a really easy ladle to use.

Here’s the soup ladle available on amazon.  I actually bought it in HK and took it back with me to Toronto.  It’s THAT good!

 

TONGS

You’d be surprised how heavy meats can get when you’re trying to blanch them in soup or trying to move them from one pot to another!  I must admit, my chopstick skills are good… but maybe I need more muscle strengthening in my hands because carrying a whole chicken carcass with regular chopsticks just wasn’t doing it.  Tongs are my next best friend when it comes to making soups!!

Here’s a locking tong that I’m using from Amazon as well.  Works well, has great grip for those slippery oily meats, and is dishwasher safe, too!

 

Some or all of these links may contain Amazon product referral links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. If you decide to use them, I would be grateful. If not, I am always thankful for your continued support! ❤️❤️❤️

There’s making soups.
And then there’s making soup BY DESIGN.

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH SOUP TO MAKE? HERE’S MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS WHEN DECIDING WHAT SOUP TO MAKE!

 

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Here are 5 ways to prepare meats for Chinese soups!

Here are 5 ways to prepare meats for Chinese soups!

HERE ARE 5 ways to PREPARE MEATS for CHINESE SOUPS!

What’s all that “stuff” floating around in my soup? Almost all bones and bone-in meats will have a little something extra extra.

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.

The back story…

I know everyone has a different process or methodology about how they make Chinese soups and I welcome all methods and suggestions.  I can attest that I didn’t have TikTok or Instagram or YouTube growing up, so when my mom taught me to make Chinese soups, it’s was good old show and tell.  Even the ladies at the wet marts were amazingly helpful and would always share wisdom and tidbits as I was grocery shopping.  This is essentially where I learned most of my techniques and recipes and over time, eventually built my own, integrating science, Traditional Chinese medicine, and experimental cooking!

Why I prepare my meats before using them in soups?

There are many reasons why I take time and effort to clean, wash, and properly prepare my protein before using them in soups.  Here’s why:

  • I’m not always sure how it’s been processed before purchase.  It’s nice to assume that whomever was cutting it was using a clean knife or blade, but I never know.  The first and easiest thing I’ll do it to wash meats in cool running water first.  I know some cooking techniques tell you not to do this with chicken (salmonella risk), but I know I’m usually blanching or boiling anyways.
  • This will remove any debris left from preparation such as blood, bone bits, skin, fat bits, or marrow content.  This helps keep my soup clean without “weird” floating stuff around the soup that my grown children still make comments about.
  • It will keep the taste of the soup clean.  Marrow and blood have a certain taste and texture when cooked and I’m conscious to not dilute the soup with other taste if I’ve properly designed my soup for taste and benefits.  
  • Helps render and melt fat off the meats so the soup is healthier and has less fat content.  This is particularly true for whole chicken (including chicken thighs and sometimes chicken bones as it isn’t completely fat free), fatter cuts of pork, or ox tails (which have quite a bit of fat content wrapped around the tail).  
  • This also helps tone down and eliminate fishy or raw tastes of protein so it also doesn’t takeover the flavour of the soup and you can truly bring all out all the amazing blended flavours that it was intended to be!

Here are 5 ways you can prepare meats for Chinese soups

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And then there’s making soup BY DESIGN.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH SOUP TO MAKE? HERE’S MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS WHEN DECIDING WHAT SOUP TO MAKE!

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What soup to make?  Here’s how I decide what Chinese soups to make…

What soup to make? Here’s how I decide what Chinese soups to make…

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH SOUP TO MAKE? HERE’s MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS WHEN DECIDING WHAT SOUP TO MAKE!

There’s no exact science to this, but guided by a combination of 4 factors that I consider: 

The consumer, conditions, preferences, and external factors.  

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.

Read more below on HOW MY BRAIN WORKS!

And I tried really hard to document this in a more logical process.

There’s making soups.
And then there’s making soup BY DESIGN.

And here’s my thinking process outlined into an infographic.  Stay with me!  One of my challenges is brain dumping my thinking on to a page.  It’s simple enough in my brain, that’s why I need a full blog for this!

How I define what to look at (merging some of my experience in Retail):

1. Who is the consumer?  Who is consuming the soup?  Even if it’s yourself, it matters.  The point is to ensure your consumer is having an AMAZING experience consuming your soup or tea.  Eating, drinking, savouring, tasting is meant to be enjoyable.  This is why we continue to cook, continue to serve, continue to make.  It’s because it was an enjoyable experience!

2. Are there any immediate things to address?  And this is second priority because symptoms are superficial and short-lived.  The idea is to relieve these symptoms so we can get to the root of true balance in the body.  This can include a cough, a cold, having gone through a certain life body stage (such as birthing [or confinement] or menopause or a surgery).  This step usually informs the type of herbs (and ingredients) I will use.

3.  Any dietary considerations?  This step helps with determining my soup base, usually the meat (or not) involved.  My 2 primary default meats are chicken or pork.  Chicken usually for more warming soups (such as Herbal healing soups) and pork for more cooling soups (like a winter melon double boiled soup).

4.  Any external factors to consider that impact the long term balance in the body?  This includes weather, humidity, or anything not covered in step 2 around conditions.  This will also inform some of the herbs (but not as primary input) and ingredients, such as using winter melons in the summer and more beans in the spring to help dispel moisture from the body.

 

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES

USE CASE 1:

Having a barbeque (PARTY!!) and it’s in the dead of summer.  Which means the external conditions are hot and dry.  Consuming barbeque, hot pot, or anything deep fried creates excess yang (or heatiness) in the body.  

Sometimes you’ll either develop canker sores, a rough cracking red tongue, or pimples, these are all signs of excess yang in the body.  This is explained in this guide to using TCM in teas and soups here.  I’ll make a soup that’s more cooling (reducing yang) with pork that can help eliminate heat in the body.  Ingredients include winter melons, fresh snow pears, chayotes, green radish are a few.  This is also why the Chinese love serving watermelons and drinking prune juice during hot pots!  I’ll also prepare teas that help cool the body, which can include water chestnuts, fresh and dried snow pears, or American ginseng and honey.

 

USE CASE 2:

I run and ride outdoors A LOT!  This includes during questionable weather conditions where I know it’s bad for me, but I still do it thinking I’ve bundled myself well enough and thinking I can always make a warming, yin reducing tea.  LOL.  I know I’ve accumulated too much yin, especially in the lungs when my extremeties become numb and cold (like hands and feet and fingers), I have a runny nose immediately to exposure (a lot of us get this), and I’ll develop a surface cough in the throat in the evening.  You want to catch the pathogen before it goes too deep into the lungs!

What I’ll make is a tea right away to warm the body (increasing yang), such as a red dates, longans, and ginger tea, or decreasing yin tea with monk fruit, ginger, and rock sugar.  

 

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Making Vegan Chinese Soup for Freezing

Making Vegan Chinese Soup for Freezing

Making Vegan Chinese Soup for Freezing

Soup Name:

Vegan Green Radish Carrots and Corn Chinese Soup for Freezing

Traditional Chinese Name:

紅青蘿蔔湯 (hóng qing luóbo tang)

Nature:  Cooling

Taste: Sweet and savory

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

This is a series of “MAKING FROZEN CHINESE SOUPS” for rice cooker or easy cooking.

It actually started with me experimenting making soup in a rice cooker (not frozen).  And when it worked magically, I extended this to frozen soups with a “just drop in” kind of mentality.  

And then, it turned into making soup packs for friends.

And then, it turned into making soup packs for friends on request.  LOL. 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Serves: 4 x 2 person portions

Ingredients
  • 2 large green radishes
  • 4 small carrots
  • 1 corn
  • 2 x 2 foot long fresh burdock root
  • 32 dried longans
  • 32 dried baby shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 dried honey dates
  • wrapping material

    Preparation Tips

    1. Cut everything into small, thin pieces.  This will allow it to cook faster.
    2. Rinse everything first before peeling or cutting so that you can just “drop” into your rice cooker or pot.  The idea is to minimize the time and effort in cooking.
    3. Make 2 person portions.  I’ve tried to make 3-4-5 people portions and it’s simply too big and ambitious.  If needed, you can always do a 2 x 2 portion for more people.  Although, this really depends on the size of your rice cooker or pot.
    4. In this test case, I added the Chinese herbs.  This just makes it easier for people who don’t know which herbs to use and have everything in one place (rather than separated).  Herbs such as dried honey dates, longans, and shiitake mushrooms are perfect for freezing.
    5. Vacuum sealers are amazing!  Although I personally am not a fan of the plastic, I am experimenting with washing and reusing my own bags right now.  Over time though, they do get smaller because of the seal and cut repeatedly.  More experimentation in the works!

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    Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

    Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

    Homemade do-it-yourself Hot Pot for Dinner!

    Soup Name:

    Homemade do-it-yourself hot pot for dinner!  Tonight, is a tomato soup base.

    Traditional Chinese Name:

    番茄火鍋 (fān qié huǒ guō), aka in Cantonese, DA BEEN LO!

    Nature:  Warming

    Taste: Sweet and savory 

    For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

    Here are the key things for a successful HOT POT dinner!

    • You can drop in longer boil ingredients ahead of the “hot potting” such as carrots, white radish, winter melon, or corn to allow more time for them to cook and soften.
    • Slice starchy and heavy vegetables very thin so they cook fast.  This applies to all radishes (white or green), winter melon, carrots, potatoes, lotus roots, pumpkin, squash, most melons.
    • Use an oil scooper for the foam and oil that accumulates as a result of cooking meats.
    • Using meats will change the flavour of the soup, this is especially common for beef and mutton or lamb (meats with heavier flavours), so depending how flavourful you like drinking your soup, try both (beginning and end)!
    • This also applies to the types of vegetables used with some being heavier in flavour.  Great hot pot vegetables include:  lettuce, siu choy or napa cabbage, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, spinach.  Some with stronger flavours such as wolfberry leaves do change the flavour of the soup base!
    • Get creative with the ingredients!  Most anything that you can boil can be used for hot pot!  The ones we love as a family include:  all forms of tofu, konjac noodles (or potato noodles, or all noodles!), all types of seafood (shrimp, fish fillets, crab or lobster, clams), all types of fish or beef or tofu cakes or balls, deep fried fish skin, all sorts of dumplings.
    • I will always keep boiling water ready in case we need to top up our soup.  Be sure to add either hot soup or hot water to maintain the steady temperature of the pot (instead of cold water).
    • And one more, the customized dipping sauce.  THIS IS SO KEY!  I love how we get to individualize whatever you need.  See below as I explore this! 

    Making amazing dipping sauces for hot pot!

    OK, trying to be as comprehensive as possible for the options you have when it comes to dipping sauces for hot pots.  Mind you, some Regions or Asian cultures don’t use dipping sauces,  but some other Regional versions have a billion options!  Try them all!

    Ingredients for dipping sauces:

    • soy sauce
    • sweet soy sauce
    • hoisin sauce
    • satay sauce
    • oyster sauce
    • hot oil
    • hot sauce
    • sesame sauce
    • sesame oil
    • peanut butter
    • black vinegar
    • black garlic
    • fresh diced garlic
    • fresh diced ginger
    • fresh diced green onions
    • fresh diced shallots
    • fresh diced spicy peppers
    • fried diced garlic
    • fried diced shallots
    • raw egg
    • any others I may have missed?  Would love to hear!

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