Winter melon (冬瓜 dong gua) soup

These pale-fleshed, spongy gourds are commonly eaten during winter. Low in calories, it has a mild and refreshing taste. A week ago, the Asian supermarket was selling 2-lb slices at incredibly reasonable prices, despite being an unusual crop for this time of year. I was recovering from a bout of ‘heatiness'(阳 yang); this ‘cooling'(阴 yin) gourd in a clear soup was just the ticket. Nonetheless, I added a bit of ginger(阳) into the soup to balance the yin(阳). The seeds, which can be candied, and often eaten during Chinese New Year, are easily scooped out with a spoon before cooking. This is a versatile plant; nearly every part can be eaten except for the skin and roots.

Winter melon soup.a

Ingredients
2lb winter melon, skin and seeds removed and cubed
2lb pork bones for stewing
2lb chicken bones for stewing or 2tbsp chicken stock powder
3 stalks celery, cut into 1″ chunks
1 carrot, cut into rough chunks or faux tourné
1 dried scallop, softened in hot water and separated
1″ ginger, sliced lengthwise
1 shallot, sliced lengthwise

Garnish
Luncheon meat, cubed or Ham, cut into strips
Cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions
1. Blanch pork bones to remove foam and rinse quickly.
2. Place pork and chicken bones in 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
3. Add carrots, celery, scallop, ginger and shallot.
4. Boil for about 20 minutes.
5. Add winter melon and cook till transparent.
6. Garnish with ham and cilantro to serve.

Serves 4

 

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Sweet corn soup with luncheon meat

I’m on the lookout for quick, savory lunches using whatever is on hand. I don’t usually keep a fully stocked kitchen, so this exercise often ends up with some interesting results. I also wanted something that I could freeze for future lunches. A sort of Smoky Corn Chowder was what I had in mind. I also recently harvested spring leaves from a couple of shallots that I had planted in winter and wanted to use that. Bacon would have been ideal for this soup but I didn’t have any, but I always have luncheon meat.

Whole kernal corn, canned or fresh
1 can cream of chicken
1/3 cup luncheon meat, cubed
Sweet (taiwan or napa) cabbage leaves
1 cup water
Spring onions
Pinch of pepper

Serves 3

Bring all ingredients to a boil, except cabbage and spring onions.
Add cabbage when soup has come to a rolling boil.
When cabbage has softened, snip spring onions into the soup.
sweet corn soup with luncheon meat