Category Archives: soup

Italian Wedding Soup


20140206-211849.jpg On

Feb 6

We are having a bit of a cold spell lately. I said a “bit” because compare to the rest of Canada we are actually having spring like weather.    Really, I should not even mention the word “cold”, for a person who used to live in the Prairies, this is balmy weather for winter.

days like this, I crave for something hot and soupy, and most of all fast to make.  Normally I would just make a bowl of instant noodle soup and throw in some veggies and fish balls to complete a meal, but tonight I need to get into something new.  I found this recipe on, and it looks easy, only ten minutes to cook.  The only time consuming step is making the meatballs.  It worked up in a jiffy though, and in less than half an hour of preparation and cooking, I have a bowl of warm piping soup to warm my tummy.

I put in the spinach towards the end, just briefly to wilt it.  I cannot stand overcooked slimy spinach, I guess it is a result of the years of cafeteria food.  Next time, I would put in a squeeze or two of lemon juice.   It was a good thing I had some frozen homemade chicken broth , it sure taste better than the canned stuff.  Need to make some more chicken broth for occasions like this.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped escarole or 2 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
grated parmesan cheese
In medium bowl combine, meat, egg,bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil& onion powder; shape into 3/4″ balls.

In large sauce pan, heat broth to boiling; stir in spinach, orzo, carrot& meatballs.

Return to boil;reduce heat to medium.

Cook at slow boil for 10 minutes or until orzo is tender.

Stir frequently to avoid sticking.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

By the way, I thought this soup is so-called as it is something served in wedding banquets, but apparent it is  “Minestra Maritata”, or translated as  married soup, which means the marriage of flavors between the greens and the meats.


home-made chicken broth


On my day off this week, I had treated myself to a nice leisurely lunch at Burgos’ on Main St. I was a little bit of a dare-devil and tried out their seasonal sandwich which was shaved lamb and their summer soup which was a nice Moroccan one with chunks of roasted chicken.

Ariella took a taste of the soup and her face said it all. It inspired the adventure spirit in her and she wanted to make it one night for supper. Normally I would use canned chicken broth, but I felt that the taste of it really does not do justice to a good home-made Moroccan soup. So I told her ( out of a whim?) that I would make my own chicken broth for her.

The day after I went and bought all the ingredients according to this recipe I found on Christine’s website. But the enthusiasm disappeared over night. All I could say I was just too lazy to watch a simmering pot of soup for three hours when all I wanted to do is to go out and enjoy the last of summer in the evenings.

Things have a way of working out in my life, the other night I had no “choice” but to stay in. As I came home in the early evening, I discovered that the garage door was broken. I called up the repair man and he was nice enough to assure me he would come the same night. He sort of promised me that he would show up before seven. As in all repairs go, I had to wait most of the evening when he did finally show up close to nine. Since I had to stay home and wait I figured it would be the ideal time to make my chicken broth. The long wait actually worked out to my benefit.

I did tweak the recipe a bit, I doubled the amount of chicken bones as called for and the broth turned out to be more condensed than her picture. It tasted better than the canned ones that I am used to. Last night we made use of the broth to make our Moroccan soup, and I have to admit that it is definitely worth that extra step. I am planning to make a large batch of broth soon and freeze them, it certainly make a big difference in the taste.

So here is the recipe from Christine’s site, very simple even though it takes a little bit of cooking time.

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 3 hrs

Yield: makes about 2 liters


  • 1.5 kg chicken bones
  • 3 liters water
  • 1 to 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme, optional


  1. Rinse the chicken bones. Chop into smaller pieces if necessary. Blanch in boiling water to remove blood and impurities, for about 3 minutes. Drain up the bones. Set aside.
  2. Put the chicken bones, water and all other ingredients into a large deep pot. Cook over high heat. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours, until about 2 liters of water left in the pot. Strain the stock through a fine sieve placed over a large bowl. Don’t press on the vegetables when straining. The soup won’t be clear otherwise. Let it cool down. Refrigerate and the fat will solidify on top of the stock, that can be easily removed with a spoon. The stock can be stored in an air-tight container in fridge for up to a week.
Source: Homemade Chicken Stock [Christine’s Recipes]

Soup of the day


When I brushed my teeth last night I found my gums slightly swollen and according to my mom that is a sign of having too much  ” heat” in the body. ( If you want to know what this is, click here)

Speaking of my mom, I am beginning to “get” her.  She is now too old to do any cooking and one of the things I missed most is her soup.  She made really awesome soup when I was a child.  She seemed to have a wealth of recipes for soup and there was always something to cure whatever ailed us or suitable for the weather.   My brothers never quite appreciated her soup as much as I did, and therefore I always had a double portion of it.   Now that I am the chief cook and bottle washer, most of the meal planning and executing have fallen into my less than capable hands.   Unfortunately soup is not one of our regular items on the table unless I have time to make it, mainly on my days off.   ( But then, I usually ended up doing something else.)

I never understood the benefits of mom’s soup until now.  The more I read about it, the more I understand why mom made a big deal with her soup making.  Even now as I talk to her on the phone, she will give me all sort of advice as to what kind of soup to make for the family.  The same goes with my mother in law, we love it when she comes to visit because she would always make soup.  She came over about couple of months ago, and unfortunately she needs a walker to move about because of an accident on her icy driveway.  Standing becomes painful for her, and we feel really sad because her soup-making  days are over. 

Daughter #2  has inherited the love of soup from both of her grandmas and will talk about it once in a while as to remind my duty as a Chinese mom. She knows that I am not really the typical kind and has accepted it graciously.  Couple of weeks ago she dislocated her knee cap and has been hobbling on her crutches.  She is recovering slowly but still suffers from the stiffness.  One day she sort of mentioned matter of factly about which kind of soup she should have to improve her joints.   I guess she succeeded to remind me what has been missing from my motherly duties.  I remember being told once that chicken feet soup is good for the joints.  So I did what I was supposed to do and she was very appreciative of it.

Now this morning, as I was lunching with her, I complained  about the heat in my body and knew I need to have some “cooling” soup.   The only one I can pull out from my memory banks is the apple and fig soup.   So it is now the soup of the day.  This time the soup is for mom.

Apple and Figs soup


1 pound of pork soup bones

2 apples, peeled and quartered ( any type will do)

6 dried figs

1 carrot ( peeled and chopped)

1 tbsp of apricot seeds ( available in asian stores)


1. Wash pork bones, put in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes.

2. Drain pork bones, rinse.

3. Put pork bones and the rest of ingredients in a pot of cold water, bring it to boil.

4. Turn down heat and simmer for two hours until bones are tender. 

5. enjoy.

Variation: you can put Chinese pears in with the apples.  I had tried it once without putting meat in and it tasted fine, but almost doubled the amount of fruits.

pumpkin and pork bone soup


When I was a young child, my Nanny nicknamed me “summer water closet”, because she said I could drink more soup than anybody else in the family.  My beloved Nanny made soup almost every day while she was working with us.  She was more than our nanny and was very much a member of the family and I was told many times that I was her favorite !    I remember everyday when I came home from school, the minute I dropped my school bag in the middle of the living room, I would run into the kitchen to find out what was in that clay pot of hers.  Without failure, there was always a big bowl of soup sitting on the counter waiting for me.  She would smile and watch me down that big bowl of steamy soup in minutes. I am pretty sure that must be the highlight of her day.

After Nanny retired, my mom took up the responsibility of making soup.  Her soup had the most expensive ingredients in it for she believes even now the importance of having the right kind of soup for the family.  She would spend hours washing, cutting and watching the pot simmer on the stove.  To her that was her way to show love to the clan.  Unfortunately mom is too old to make soup now,  even a few years ago when I went back home for visit she would drag her body around to make me the soup she thought I need. ( You look too pale !!) But as the years go by, her body is failing her and there is no way she can stand long enough to cook for her little girl. 

As you can see soup does bring back a lot of good memories for me, of my childhood and the two ladies whom I love dearly.  Sadly Nanny passed away many years ago, but her toothless smile and that super long braid of hers are forever seared into my mind.   I am so blessed to have memories of this wonderful woman.  

I was not diligent at all in soup making when I was raising my own brood.  Now that the family is all grown up I have rediscovered the joy and the benefits of a good pot of soup.  I am beginning to understand and appreciate the medicinal purposes of the different kinds of soup. Fortunately my youngest daughter has now inherited this penchant for soup and she is more than happy to try out the different concoction I come up with.

I used to buy the soup packages from the local chinese grocery, it has all the ingredients you need and all you have to do is follow the instructions and you will have a delicious pot of soup for the table.  Lately I have become more adventurous and want to find different “twists” for the old.  During my “surfing” on the internet, I came across this wonderful website “The Chinese Soup Lady”, and now I am very much inspired to try new recipes.  I found this Pumpkin and Pork soup the other day and was quite surprised for I had never thought of cooking pumpkin in a Chinese soup and more than willing to give it a whirl.  

This soup is different in a nice sort of way.  It is definitely something I will make again, but next time I will cook the pork bones broth a little longer and  put the pumpkin in maybe ten minutes prior to serving.  As for the century egg, I will leave them out the next time, as I am not too keen with them.  

So here is the recipe from her site:


 1 pound of fresh pork bones
1/2 fresh Japanese pumpkin, cubed with skin intact
4 century eggs, washed and halved
1 tablespoon of apricot kernals
2 L of water

  1. Rinse and soak the apricot kernals for 10 minutes in warm water
  2. Boil your soup water
  3. Wash pork bones and in a separate pot of boiling water, blanch your bones for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Wash and cut up pumpkin, while keeping the outer skin on (this helps keep the pumpkin from disintegrating)
  5. When soup water boils, add the pork bones, the pumpkin and the apricot kernals
  6. Boil on high heat for 30 minutes and add the century eggs
  7. Reduce heat and boil on medium for another hour
  8. Serve and enjoy!

bitter gourd soup


This must be a season for bitter gourd as I noticed the asian groceries have an abundant supply of them on sale recently.  I love bitter gourd and it is my favorite vegetable since childhood.  I have to say that it is an acquired taste and usually people don’t like them because of the slightly bitter taste ( and therefore it is named.) 

I used to eat them frequently because my mom told me that they are good for me.  When I was younger I had a very serious nose bleed problem  and the older women in my clan had given me so many different “cures” to fix my problem.  Any where from having a crushed kumquat leave stuck in my nose to chewing raw lotus root I had tried them all.  One of them was bitter gourd.  I don’t know whose idea it was, but I was told that the liquid used in blanching bitter gourd has a medicinal purpose and so I had to drink this bitter-tasting “soup” every time my mom cooked it for the family.  

I remember the first time I had it I almost spat it out because it tasted so bad, and after being scolded by the adults I swallowed it reluctantly.  For some strange reason I still cannot figure, after the first incident bitter gourd became my favorite.  As I look back on my first experience with this veggie I realized that as a child I really was not the brightest bulb in the box !

When I came across this recipe in Pig Pig’s corner, I was very interested as it brought back fond memories from my childhood.  I am always looking for different ways to cook this  strange-looking vegetable and I could not wait to try this recipe out.   So the other day when I saw how fresh and cheap they are, I had to buy a couple to try it out.    The verdict–it is so good !!   Who would have thought that bitter gourd can make such yummy soup, it is so different from the bland, bitter tasting stuff that I had before. 

So here is the recipe, if you like bitter gourd you really should try this out you will be pleasantly surprised. 


  • 750 g chicken pieces ( I used pork bones instead)
  • 500 g bitter gourd – cut into pieces
  • 1 large carrot – peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 1 handful Yu-zhu/Yuk-chuk (玉竹)
  • A handful dried scallops
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt


  • Cut bitter gourd into half lengthwise. Remove/ scoop out all the seeds and white spongy stuff. Cut into pieces.
  • Place all ingredients in a pot. Cook under pressure for 45 mins. Leave to cool on its own. [if not using a pressure cooker, you can simmer it for at least 2 hrs.]
  • Season with salt.


The Mystery of Tom Yum


I love Tom Yum, or to be exact the Tom Yum Goong soup.  I always wanted to make it at home, but for some reason I thought it takes a lot of spices.   I know there is the paste you can buy from grocery and all you need is to mix in water and  you will get the soup base.

I found this package the other day at the produce section, it is all the ingredients you need to make the soup base.  It is a lot simpler than I expected.  After I tried it, I can sure tell the difference, definitely it is lot better than the paste.

Here is the recipe, simply easy and delicious

2 cans of Chicken broth

3 stalks of lemon grass cut into inch lengths

5 red Thai chili peppers

1 piece of Galangal

4 kaffir lime leaves

3 cloves of garlic

1-2 tbsp of Thai chili paste

1 tsp of fish sauce

1 lb of shelled and deveined shrimps

3 sliced mushrooms

kaffir limes

chopped cilantro


  • Bring chicken broth and 3 cups of water to boil, turn down to medium
  • Add crushed garlic, lemon grass, ginger, Galangal, fish sauce, and chili peppers, chili paste, ( adjust your taste with the chili paste)
  • simmer for 20-30 minutes
  • add shrimp, mushrooms, and cook until shrimps are done, do not overcook
  • stir in lime juice to the appropriate sourness
  • add cilantro before serving