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Chinese Old Cucumber Soup Recipe 老黄瓜汤

Sunday, May 01, 2011 | Labels: , , |

If you have been following this blog for a bit, you may notice that I am a big fan of Cantonese slow-fire soups or 老火汤.  The latter basically refers to soup that has been boiled or rather simmered for at least 5-6 hours with various nutritious ingredients that are regarded as almost health tonics to the Chinese depending on the ingredients of choice.  Old cucumber soup is a classic ingredient for slow-fire soups and is believed to have heat-reducing properties so this is especially good in hot weather.  Chinese soups essentially try to balance one's equilibrium and when there's too much yang (heat) in one's body, this soup is really ideal.  As for the accompanying ingredients, I added dried squid, Chinese Yunnan ham and a small handful of red dates.  Since the soup was boiled long enough, there was no need to add salt which I think is even better for this genre of soups.


I prefer to boil my Chinese soups in a claypot and I like to boil them for the stipulated time of usually 5-6 hours instead of resorting to a pressure cooker - it just feels more nutritious that way and to me more comforting when I finally get to taste the soup.  However, this is totally up to you of course.  If you can't find Yunnan ham, you can substitute with Virginia smoked ham.  The dried squid, old cucumber and red dates can be found at most Asian grocery stores.


Serves 4 generously (soup can be kept overnight in the fridge)


1 large old cucumber, rinsed and cut into wedges (just scrape the skin a little, you don't have to remove the skin)
6 red dates, pitted
5 inches worth of Chinese Yunnan ham
About 10 inches worth of spareribs
1 piece of dried squid (squid not octopus)
2 stalks green onions, sliced (garnish - optional)



Firstly, bring a pot of water to boil for blanching of the spareribs.  Once the water boils, place the spareribs into the water and remove once the surface changes to white.  Remove, drain and set aside.  Discard the water.

Clean the pot briefly.  Prepare a deep soup pot of water This was about 12 cups of water.  Add the squid, ham, red dates and spareribs. and bring to a boil.  Once rapidly boiling, add in the old cucumber wedges and bring to a boil again.

Turn heat to medium-low or low (if using gas stove) and allow to simmer with the cover slightly tilted (not entirely covered) for 5-6 hours, checking occasionally.  Serve hot with green onions for garnish and added fragrance if desired.


Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

What an interesting soup. I've never heard of old cucumber but I also like Chinese soups that have been boiled a long time, especially lotus root. Sadly it's impossible to find lotus root in the US of the same variety as in China. The ones here never break down and get wonderfully soft and powdery like the ones at home.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Really? Hmm, it's widely available even in US Asian grocery stores...yes I agree on the lotus roots, luckily the ones from China are available in Malaysia and those are what my parents buy for soups :) (I think they're not always available tho)

Small Kucing said... ngum...i boil this soup today

TasteHongKong said...

Only see a few old cucumbers recently, but I'm sure they shall be available in larger batches for making this comforting soup, which is good for removing body 'dampness'.

pigpigscorner said...

This is one of my favourite soups but it's impossible to get old cucumber here. I only have this when I go back to Malaysia.

Pudding Pie Lane said...

Everything is definitely better cooked than if using a pressure cooker. This recipe reminds me of the soup my mum used to make me when I was ill :)

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

You're right! it's great so remove dampness :)

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Really? these are available in the US but probably not as good quality..never tried to look for these in UK tho :)

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

That's what I think too :) Very comforting hehe

Nami said...

Hi Jen! I think my husband will be so happy if I make this. I don't like the old cucumber (I like the soup taste), but my husband loves it. I am keeping this recipe for future.... I need to increase more Chinese dish as I'm married to a Chinese person! ;-) Thanks for sharing.

tigerfish said...

I love 老黄瓜汤. Usually I just drink lots of the soup and eat the old cucumber as the soup has all the flavor essence.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

I'm glad you like Chinese soups Nami :) Thanks for stopping by!

tigerfish said...

I love 老黄瓜汤. Usually I just drink lots of the soup and eat the old cucumber as the soup has all the flavor essence.

noobcook said...

This is one of my favourite home-cooked Chinese soups, healthy and delicious

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...


Mary said...

Looks good, I feel healthier just from looking at the pictures.  :D  Dates add a nice sweetness to the soup... love eating soup with rice. 

It would also be nice to add some chicken pieces or pork ribs to the soup.  That's pretty much dinner taken care of!

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

thanks Mary, in fact there are pork ribs in the recipe :)

Jacqui Gabel said...

This soup is so gorgeous. I just bought an old cucumber from a street vendor in Seoul - I had no idea what to do with it until I got home and starting searching online. There are many recipes for this soup, but you've won me over with your stunning photography. Is ham a necessary ingredient or can it be left out?

Smoky Wok (Tastes of Home) said...

Thanks!! Without ham it will be less fragrant but still good!! :)

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