Pork Rib Soup

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Mark Twain was onto something then. Bay area weather is unlike anything one would expect. Merely 2 weeks ago, temperatures were in the high 70s, daring some souls to meekly bring out t-shirts and flip flops, tempting the fickle clouds. This past week had all running back to Uggs and recycled fleece, heaters kicking into gear. The thing about making soup over a stove is that it warms up the kitchen and living room quite nicely, at the same time filling the house with homely aromas. Sweet corn is coming into season here (10 for $5), and sweet corn is my middle name. This is a clear soup, naturally sweetened by rib bones, dried cuttlefish and sweet corn. Root vegetables offset the pork protein. Gogi berries are not usually added but they were in my pantry. They are the cause of the slightly reddish tinge in this otherwise colourless soup.

Pork Rib Soup 20160513 (7)

Ingredients
1 lb pork back ribs
2 carrots, coined
2 ears of fresh corn, broken into 3″ sections
1 lb winter melon, cubed
1 potato, cubed
(optional) 1 dried cuttlefish, for flavouring
(optional) Handful gogi berries

Pork Rib Soup 20160513 (1)

Instructions
1. Blanch pork ribs. This will ensure the soup is clear and free of debris.
2. Bring a fresh pot of water boil. Place blanched ribs and cuttlefish into boiling water.
3. When pork is nearly cooked through, add carrots, potatoes and gogi berries for about 2 minutes.
4. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add soy sauce to taste if desired.
5. Add winter melon and increase heat for 3 minutes till melon is just cooked through. This delicate root turns becomes bitter when overcooked.

Serves 4

 

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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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