4.5 from 4 votes
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Watercress & Honey Dates with Pork Ribs Soup

A classic Chinese soup, watercress and honey dates with pork ribs soup, is a mildly sweet, yet savoury, flavourful, full-bodied and nutritious soup that's generously packed with tender, meaty pork ribs and ladles full of softened, crunchy watercress.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Main Dish, Meat, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Servings :4 servings
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 20 mins
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  • 300 g pork ribs
  • 200 g watercress (1 bundle)
  • 3 dried scallops
  • 3 honey dates
  • 6 Chinese red dates
  • 1 tbsp sweet almonds (a.k.a. sweet apricot kernels)
  • 1 tsp bitter almonds (a.k.a. bitter apricot kernels)


  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
  • Some pepper, to taste


  • With the watercress still in a bundle, cut off the stems where the leaves begin, about 5 to 6 cm from the end, but do not discard. Wash leaves and stems separately, in several changes of water.
  • In a small bowl, soak dried scallops in warm water for 10 minutes, till slightly softened.
  • Meanwhile, fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Put in pork ribs and blanch for a minute or so to remove impurities. Discard the water and wash the meat clear of all scum and grit. Set aside.
  • Put pork ribs, scallops (including soaking liquid), honey dates, red dates, sweet and bitter almonds, into a slow cooker. Pour in water or stock until just enough to immerse all the ingredients. Set slow cooker on Auto setting. When soup has come to a simmer, add in the watercress stems and slow cook for another two hours. (Note: If cooking in a pot over the stove top, please read Recipe Notes below).
  • Remove the watercress stems and discard. Add the watercress leaves and continue to slow cook for a further 30 to 45 minutes or so, depending on how soft you'd like the watercress to be. Season with salt, light soy sauce, and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.


#1. The soup must be boiling or simmering before adding the stalks and leaves, or else the soup may turn bitter.
#2. For cooking over a stove top:
Follow steps (1), (2), and (3) as above.
Then, bring 2 litres of water to boil, over medium fire. Once boiling, add all the ingredients, except watercress leaves, bring back to a boil then lower heat. When meat is tender, about 2 hours later, remove watercress stems and discard. If meat is not quite as tender as desired, let soup gently simmer for longer until tender. Add more water (always add hot water) if stewing liquid has reduced considerably.
When ready to add watercress leaves, increase to medium fire. Add in the leaves and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes or so, depending on how soft you'd prefer the watercress to be. Season with salt, light soy sauce, and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.
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