In Cantonese cuisine, soup is very important. When I was growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore, my family would enjoy hot soup at the start of dinner, emptying our bowls before heaping freshly boiled white rice into it for the main meal. My favourites at home were my mom’s fish and tomato soup, and pork and lotus root soup; out at restaurants, double-boiled pig’s lung soup (yep, you read correctly).
To Western palates, Cantonese soup may resemble more of a meaty broth or consomme. And while I love soups like potato and leek, and New England clam chowder, nothing compares to homemade Chinese-style soups in their simplicity, healthiness, and subtlety in taste.
W and I often eat this Pork and Watercress Soup when we are lazy or feeling a little under the weather. It keeps well – just make sure you sterilize it by bringing to a full boil before eating and before storing in a covered pot.
Pork and Watercress Soup
Ingredients (makes about 4 servings):
0.5-0.8 lb boneless pork stew cubes, excess fat trimmed
1 medium bunch of watercress, soaked and thoroughly washed in cold water
3-5 dried red dates
small handful of wolf (goji) berries
1.2 litres of water
salt to taste
1. Add pork, watercress, red dates, wolf/goji berries, water, and a dash or two of salt to large pot. Bring to boil.
2. When mixture has come to full boil, lower heat so that soup is just simmering.
3. Simmer soup for at least 1.5 hours. Before serving, check taste and add more salt if necessary. Use ladle to skim off any excess oil or scum that might have rendered from pork.
Despite my love of savoury foods, I am equally quite appreciative of ‘blander’ foods so I like this soup for its subtle sweetness. The pork in this soup is also great dipped in light soy sauce if you want more saltiness in your meal.