If you are new to Chinese cooking, I hope you will find and use the recipes and tips in Homemade Chinese Soups website to prepare some nice Chinese soups for your family, friends and most importantly, for yourself.
Many Chinese restaurants serve wonderful luxurious soups with expensive ingredients and elaborate cooking techniques. They are both a feast for the eyes and for the stomach. A gastronomical experience!
But magical moments happened with homemade Chinese soups. Home-styled, with simple ingredients, using simple cooking methods, using basic cooking utensils, served piping hot with love, and enjoyed in the company of loved ones.
Hi, my name is Phoebe and I live on a small tropical island republic in Southeast Asia called Singapore. There are many Chinese living here, mostly descendants of immigrants from Southern China. I grew up with chinese soups at our dinner table. They were common sight and for many years they were just part of the meal, nothing special. I took what I know and enjoy for granted until I stayed abroad for a couple of years. Then I became homesick and craved familiar food.
Are you also far away from home?
I'll show you how to nurse your homesickness or cravings by replicating that well-loved soup from home. Increase your soup repertoire beyond a basic egg drop soup and throw some wonton parties for you new-found friends.
Are you intimidated when you enter a Chinese grocery store?
I know many people are interested to make Chinese food but are unfamiliar with the ingredients. It would be a shame to let that stop people from enjoying Chinese soups.
I'll introduce several key Chinese ingredients like black chicken, tofu, century egg as well as typical Asian vegetables. I'll also cover preparation methods and cooking techniques, and some kitchen equipment.
All I know about homemade Chinese soups I have attempted to record down here in the simplest terms. Nothing fanciful or laborious. Simple, easy to make, for the newbies, and especially those who think they can't cook.
I am not an expert cook. I do not spend long hours in the kitchen nor do I want to. The soups I make have to be easy and hassle-free. My late grandmother will shake her head at my minimalist cooking approach. What to do? I have been corrupted by modernity. So, expect short cuts from me.
I am also not a food photographer and do not intend to become one. However, I understand that photos and pictures are important. I try my best to take pictures of the finished soups, the ingredients and anything I think relevant. They are taken with point-and-shoot cameras and recently my mobile phone. What I can't take or have no time to take, I rely on wonderful Flickr users.
If you are new to Chinese cooking, I hope you will find and make use of the information here to prepare some nice Chinese soups for your family, friends and most importantly, for yourself.
What makes Chinese soups Chinese?
A simple lotus root soup with lean pork ribs
I think nobody will mistake a Chinese soup for anything else. Don't get me wrong, Chinese cuisine isn't homogeneous. There are 8 distinct cuisine types based on geographical locations. But there are some common threads that make Chinese soups Chinese.
1. Use of Chinese Herbs
The addition of chinese herbs in soups as food rather than medicine to promote general health and well-being is not unique to chinese cuisine but is probably one of the most developed.
2. Slow Cooking
Simmering is one of the most popular cooking technique. Simmered soups are full of flavour and nourishment. Ingredients are slowly cooked to softness and the soups infused with all the fragrance and goodness from the ingredients.
3. Quick Cooking
Coming up a near second is the other popular soup cooking technique: quick boiling. Delicious and nutritious clear soups can be whipped up in under 30 minutes using soup stocks and ultra fresh ingredients such as green leafy vegetables, seafood and thinly sliced meats. I'm sure most chinese mums and some dads know how to put together a simple egg drop soup or a tofu soup for the family.
4. Use of Dried Goods
Drying food is a way to preserve them for a rainy day. Examples of dried goods include mushrooms, scallops or conpoy, fish maw, seaweed or laver and many more. Their flavours are concentrated and best brought out in a soup.
The use of cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot to thicken soup and sauces is uniquely Chinese. The most well-known is the hot and sour soup, and the Westlake beef soup. A newer trick is to use rice instead of cream or milk for creamy soups. Good news for the lactose-intolerant.
6. Noodle soups
I don't think I would be boasting if I said that the Chinese excel at making noodles. Chinese noodles are usually served stir-fried or in soup. Wheat and rice are the most popular ingredients but noodles can be made with meat and legumes too. A classic example is the beef noodle soup.
This is predominantly made with rice in Southern China and corn in Northern China. Some called it rice soup, rice pudding and congee. It is perhaps the most unique "soup" and the single most important dish in Chinese cuisine. Children grew up on it and we live on it during famine. It is an all-round comfort food.
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