Nourish your body with a nutritious and healthy winter melon soup. This easy to prepare Chinese soup combines winter melon with tofu, Chinese mushrooms, and bean curd sticks.
Every once in a while, I like to try variations of popular soup ingredients, as great flavours and textures can evolve from putting together different combinations of ingredients and condiments in Chinese soups. Here is a winter melon soup, popular in Chinese cuisine, stewed with bean curd sticks, tofu, Chinese mushrooms, carrots, dried scallops and dried oysters.
The taste of winter melon flesh is quite bland, but it absorbs the flavours of the stewing medium beautifully so I always use home-cooked chicken stock when cooking this to enhance the soup’s sweetness and enrich its flavour. Home-made chicken stock or broth is great for just about anything – soup bases, stews, sauces, gravies and flavouring for stir-fries. I always make a stock or broth out of chicken bones and meat that is slow simmered with dried scallops and Chinese kam wah ham, for a much more earthy, robust and flavourful taste.
Winter melon, also known as ash gourd or winter gourd, has cooling properties and is often consumed to clear heat and phlegm from the lungs. It also detoxifies the body, promotes diuresis and reduces inflammation. Traditional Chinese practitioners use winter melon seeds in medications to resolve urinary problems, lower cholesterol and treat kidney disease.
This recipe serves 2 to 3 persons (source with modification: “Healthy Chinese Soups and Drinks” by author Susan Chan).
Winter Melon Soup with Bean Curd & Chinese Mushroom
- 600 g winter melon peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 kg chicken breast or 500 g pork ribs
- 6 dried Chinese mushrooms soaked in warm water for 15 mins, washed, drained, cut into halves
- 2 dried bean curd sticks soaked in water for 15 mins, drained, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 6 ginger slices
- 6 dried oysters washed in hot boiled water
- 6 dried scallops washed in hot water
- 300 g silky tofu drained, cut into cubes
- chicken stock or water
- seal salt and pepper to taste
- In a small saucepan, bring water to boil and parboil the chicken breast meat or pork ribs for a few minutes to remove scum and grit. Discard the water, and wash well.
- Place all ingredients (except tofu and salt) in a slow cooker. Add enough water or stock to cover the ingredients. Cook on Auto or High setting for at least 3 hours, or till winter melon is soft. If cooking in a deep pot, bring all the ingredients in stock or water to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for at least 2 to 3 hours, or till winter melon is soft.
- Add tofu during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking. Season to taste. Serve hot or warm.