Loofah soup

soup with clams
Loofah with Clams soup

You had probably used a loofah sponge in your life, in the shower perhaps, but did you know it comes from the loofah gourd which is an edible vegetable? It doesn’t taste like much on its own but in Taiwan where it is called “shi gua” 絲瓜 , it is commonly found in the local markets and it is often made into delicious soups, like Loofah with Clams soup or Loofah with Carrots and Vermicelli soup.  It is perfect for the hot summer weather as it is nourishing and replenishes fluids; and with the addition of vermicelli, it can be a meal in itself. Enjoy!

Recipe for the Loofah with Carrots and Vermicelli Soup:

1 small piece of lean pork
1 loofah
2 carrots
3 dried scallops
3 dried figs
4 dried red dates
vermicelli

Method:

  1. Rinse the dried scallops, then leave it to soak in a cup of hot water for 1 hour. Remember to keep the soaking water to add to the soup.
  2. Cut the lean pork into thin slices.
  3. Peel and cut the loofah and carrots into small chunks.
  4. Rinse the dried figs and red dates.
  5. Put all the above ingredients into a pot. Add 6 – 8 cups of water.
  6. Boil on high heat for 10 mins, then lower the heat to boil for another 50 mins.
  7.  Add vermicelli and salt to taste.

Loofah with Clams soup:   Omit the carrots, instead you add fresh clams to the pot towards the last 10 mins of the cooking process; and garnish with cut spring onions and thinly sliced ginger before serving.

Loofah with Shrimp soup: Fresh shrimp in shell may be used instead of clams.

 

Borsch Soup

 

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Borsch is classic Ukranian soup which my family enjoys. It is perfect for a cold weather day, especially great for surviving this year’s deadly polar vortex in the U.S.  It uses a lot of vegetables and it’s wonderfully satisfying.   Every time I make Borsch I think of my father who used to take the family to Troika, a Russian restaurant in Singapore, when I was a child.  In Hong Kong, it is a staple winter soup and it is called 羅宋湯  (“lor sung tong”) in Cantonese. In the Chinese version, there are no beets and sour cream is omitted.  For a vegatarian option, this soup can be made without any meat.  This is a really easy recipe – no skills required!

1/2 can sliced beets
2 carrots
1 onion
1 potato
1/2 head of cabbage
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tomatoes
180 g beef stew meat or oxtail
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
pepper
chopped dill
sour cream

Method:

  1. Peel carrots and potato. wash then cut into chunks.
  2. Wash the cabbage, tomatoes and onion, then cut into chunks.
  3.  Cut the beef stew meat into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Put all the ingredients into a huge soup pot. Add 10-12 cups of water and boil on high for 20 mins, then simmer for another 40 mins.
  5. Add sugar (if it’s too sour), salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot with dill and a dollop of sour cream