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Watercress Soup Recipe 西洋菜湯

Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Labels: , , |

May I present another favourite soup of mine, a variety of the Chinese 老火湯 (which translates to 'old fire soup' from the Cantonese dialect) with watercress as the main ingredient. The only trick with making good soup apart from the ingredients is of course the time required for boiling. Traditionally, these 老火湯 are boiled for about 4-6 hours and usually are clear broth with variations in flavour from either the different root vegetables like my kudzu root or Chinese yucca soup or from a variety of Chinese herbs. The latter belongs the category of 'medicinal food' as the Chinese deeply believe in the adage, "you are what you eat".


I love soup to the extent that I can have a few bowls of rice with just the soup. Although the main attraction with Chinese 老火湯 is the heavenly broth, I do eat the meat and the vegetables (in this case) as well. It has always been the tradition in my household back in Malaysia that soup is served at least a few times a week, ranging from the popular lotus root soup to the slightly more exotic sounding, pig stomach soup with peppercorns. Before you begin to gag, I can promise you that the latter when done right (and my dad knows how), tastes so delicious that my mouth is starting to water as I type. Yes, that is one of the familiar requests my dad gets especially from my sister who just moved back to Malaysia (lucky her!). Since I am not skilled enough to make tasty soup from something as icky sounding as pig stomach, I will just stick to the 'safer' routes for now!


No words can begin to describe the delicious warmth a spoonful of good 老火湯 can bring especially when one is yearning for a taste of home. A beautiful Chinese saying eloquently describes this feeling, 一口家乡味, 培添思乡情.

For more soup recipes on Tastes of Home, try:

Japanese Clam Soup Recipe

Chinese Daikon Soup Recipe

1 whole chicken breast with bones
2 pieces of pork ribs
4-6 small dried cuttlefish (pictured)- rinsed lightly
2 bunches of watercress (soak to get rid of dirt throughly)

Dried cuttlefish, the star of many Cantonese soups

First, blanch the chicken and pork for about 1-2 minutes (this is to remove impurities from the meats). Set aside. Prepare a pot of water (about 10 cups) and bring to a boil. Place the meats, vegetables and the cuttlefish into the pot. Bring to a boil again - boil on high heat for about 2 hours (uncovered). Turn to low heat, and simmer for another 2-3 hours. Add salt to taste at the end of 4-5 hours. Serve hot.


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mothermayi said...

Hello, came across your site from the huge universe of food have wonderful pictures, and i look forward to learning more about chinese/malaysian cookin!

Tastes of Home said...

Hi mothermayi! thanks for dropping by and welcome! hope u will find my recipes useful :)

ICook4Fun said...

I just love this kind of soup but I never put cuttle fish to it. I have to get some the next time I shop at Chinatown.

Tastes of Home said...

hi there! hope u will like it :)

Beachlover said...

I love to put dried "tuei pin" in any soup I cook like you.I think I love the flavour ...hmmm another Msia comfort soup:))

shavedicesundays said...

I grew up having soup (canh in Vietnamese) pretty much with every meal and now force my kids to eat soup almost everyday. It's good for you!

noobcook said...

The soup must be so sweet with both pork ribs and chicken. I love watercress soup :)~

Erik said...

I have to admit that I have stuck with mainly western soup recipes, only because of my lack of familiarity with all of the Asian varieties (and I know there are so many!)
I might try this one, but I think I will search your blog for a good "beginner" soup. Got any suggestions?

Tastes of Home said...

Hi Erik, firstly, thanks for dropping by and welcome!

on a good beginner soup with quite mild flavours but still very Asian, would be Asian mixed vegetables soup - this soup does not require dried cuttlefish which I noticed is not exactly very popular with most western palates :)

here's the link: Asian Veg Soup Recipe

Please dont hesitate to contact me if you have further questions!

pigpigscorner said...

Love this soup. My grandmother used to cook this a lot.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I have a bunch of watercress: this looks good!

Tastes of Home said...

PPC - thanks!

ECV - thanks!

Mae said...

I’m so happy to have tried this recipe, it tastes really yummy. This soup brought back a lot of good memories of my grandmother’s cooking. In the past, I’ve tried cooking it and didn’t yield the same flavor and now I know why, because of the missing cuttlefish. It adds grood flavoring to the soup. Thank you so much for sharing. I love this soup and I’m ready to make it again.

Jen said...

^ glad you like it :)

lee shu-han said...

i love this soup! my mum often makes it, with red dates added. think i'm going to make this tonight. (:

Anonymous said...

Can we use crock pot to make these soups?

Smoky Wok (formerly Tastes of Home) said...

^ yes you can, but I have not tried using a crockpot personally for this, I think it will lack flavour a little compared to the slow boiling on a pot but if it's convenience you're going for, it should be fine, do check how long it will take too on your crock pot, I used to boil red bean soups in crock pots and I let it boil overnight. hope that helps!

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