Watercress and Pork Ribs Soup

I’d been thinking lately about the dishes that I used to make when R and I first moved into our new home. I remember promising myself that once I had my own kitchen I’d make soup everyday – just like my grandmother did and it would help me keep her memory. She always had a whole repertoire of soups for our daily dinners – ABC Soup (tomatoes, carrots,onions and potatoes with pork ribs), White Fungus Soup (white fungus with chicken), Lotus Root Soup (lotus root with pork ribs and peanuts)[莲藕汤], Black Chicken Soup [黑鸡汤], Old Cucumber Soup [老黄瓜汤], Four Essences Soup [四神汤], Watercress and Pork Ribs Soup, Fish and Apple Soup,  Kambing Soup (lamb soup)  etc. She had a soup for everyday slurping and she had soups for specific purposes (boosting immunity, reducing heatiness, building ‘warmth’). Maybe one day I’ll be able to put all these recipes of hers here on my blog! But for now all I’ve been able to master are  ABC Soup, Old Cucumber Soup and for now I’m happy to present a Watercress with Pork Ribs + Four Essences Soup mash-up.

I have recently read about the benefits of Watercress that it is a good defense against lung cancer and also a great complement to weight loss amongst others, and have also found out that it is a strong source of iron, calcium and folic acid! wow! My grandmother taught me that watercress soup reduces heatiness and is just an overall yummy soup to have at the dinner table.

In any case, simple Cantonese soups are exactly how it’s described – simple, place all the ingredients in a pot and boil on high for 1 – 2 hrs to get all the goodness out of the ingredients and if you’ve prepared it way ahead of meal-time, keep it simmering until you are ready to serve it, adding water after a while as the liquid starts to boil away.

Here’s how in more detail:

Watercress and Pork Ribs Soup
Serves 4

A large pot for boiling (large enough for 2 litres of water when ¾ full)
Chef’s Knife
Chopping Board
Small Electric Kettle
Large bowl

Approx 2 litres of water (for pot)
Approx 1 litre of water (for electric kettle)
500g – 700g of pork ribs
1 bunch of watercress
6 dried chinese mushrooms (soaked in warm water then sliced)
6 dried scallops (soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes)
A handful of sweet chinese almonds
6 red dates
A handful of wolfberries a.k.a goji berries (these are good for improving eye sight)

Optional Ingredients
1 pkt of Four Essences Soup ingredients (available at chinese medicine halls) – I had this in the soup above cos I didn’t have sweet almonds and wolfberries.
500g of lean minced pork (marinate with 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 2 tsp of corn flour for 10 minutes before rolling into balls)

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. At the same time, bring about 750ml – 1 litre of water to boil in electric kettle.
2. Wash pork ribs and set aside in a large bowl. Once the water in the electric kettle is ready, pour the boiling water over the pork bones. This gets rid of the scum that would normally be released when meat is cooked in water. It looks nasty so we don’t want it – it’s actually just protein from blood in the meat. Discard water after pork ribs turn pale beige.
3. Rinse watercress and set aside.
4. Once the pot of water boils, add the pork ribs.
5. Cut stems off watercress and add them to the boiling water.
6. Add all other ingredients to the boiling water and boil for at least 1½ hours, scooping scum off the top of the soup each time it surfaces.
7. In the meantime, chop remaining watercress leaves and divide into 4 portions. Place them each into medium sized soup bowls.¹¹
8. If adding the meatballs, place meatballs in the soup at the last 10 minutes of boiling before serving.

To Serve:
1. Pour soup into the soup bowls with watercress, remembering to include as much ingredients as possible, except for the watercress stems.
2. The meatballs and pork ribs are often paired with dark/light soy sauce with chili padi. Yums
2. Enjoy this heartwarming soup with family or by yourself on a rainy day with a book.

¹Note: This is my grandmother-in-law’s trick to give the soup a little crunch and to keep the veges nice and green.

I’m so glad my grandmother made my family soups each day – passing down her knowledge of how to make them is one of the best gifts she’s given me.


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