When it comes to stewing Chinese soups, using fresh and good quality ingredients not only yield far better flavours, but are also nutritionally superior in providing carbohydrates, fibre, phytonutrients, essential minerals and vitamins. This is particularly important when preparing soups with just two to three key ingredients as the quality of the soup’s taste and its appearance will develop from the natural flavours of the constituent ingredients.
Here is a lotus root soup which features fresh lotus root and dried or preserved lotus seeds which are free of chemical treatment. This soup’s flavour is enhanced by stewing in a healthy, home-cooked broth, with red dates and carrots to bring out its earthy, sweet flavours. What you can expect is a light, yet full-bodied soup, with mildly sweet and savoury flavours.
I probably can’t say enough about the goodness of the lotus root. It is one vegetable that I try to always have on hand. If you are able to get fresh ones in your locality, try to buy those that are still coated in mud. These are as fresh as they come, and are usually far superior in quality to cleaned ones. Tempted as you may be to avoid the gritty task of scraping and cleaning the mud off the roots, the mud-coated ones are worth all the clean-up, as the flesh of these roots are a lovely cream colour and of a sweeter flavour. These fresh ones are also great in salads.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the lotus root has cooling properties and is often consumed to reduce internal ‘heat’. It helps to replenish ‘Qi’ and nourish blood, thereby improving the body’s immune system, as well as invigorates the spleen. Eating lotus root can also improve poor appetite, and helps improve digestive health. It is a rich food source of dietary fibre as well as essential minerals, particularly, calcium and iron.
Lotus seeds are beneficial for the kidneys, help to improve the health of the spleen, strengthen the digestive process and alleviate diarrhea. Lotus seeds also possess calming and sedative properties, and are used as a natural remedy to treat conditions of insomnia and restlessness. Red dates are beneficial for blood production, and impart a natural sweetness to the soup.
This lotus root soup is best prepared with a meat stock, either chicken or pork broth. It is also suitable as a vegetarian soup when stewed in a vegetable stock.
This recipe serves 3 to 4 persons.
LOTUS ROOT WITH LOTUS SEEDS AND RED DATES SOUP RECIPE
1 fresh Lotus Root, peeled, washed and cut into bite-size chunks
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
20 gm Lotus Seeds, soaked in water for 15 minutes, cored
12 Red Dates, pitted
Meat or Vegetable Stock
Sea Salt, to taste
Put all ingredients into a stewing pot, pour in enough stock to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low heat, and let simmer or stew for 2 to 3 hours. Season to taste. Serve hot or warm.