Chinese cabbage recipe Soup
Two quick and rich broths
Like I mentioned above, the traditional way to make this soup is using pork stock. It’s delicious. And it’s very cheap to make.
I understand you probably don’t want to spend tons of time making a stock just for this soup. Me neither! So I figured out a few ways to make a quick and easy soup base without compromising on flavor.
1. Quick pork and chicken broth
I just discovered this recently and I can’t stop using it!
The secret to the stock is… Pancetta.
OK, it might sound strange to use an Italian ingredient in such a classic Chinese dish. But I found it very efficient and economical. We got a big block of D’Artagnan Ventrèche French Pancetta from Thomas’s parents during Christmas, and we have been cooking various dishes with it.
I discovered you can make a very rich broth with pancetta, that tastes just like homemade pork stock, in 1/20th the time and with very few ingredients.
If you’ve never heard of pancetta, it’s like the Italian version of bacon, but it isn’t smoked during the curing process. Basically, it’s a very salty, rich, raw cured pork belly. I found that it functions pretty similarly to Chinese sausage and cured ham – a little goes a long way.
You only need 3 to 4 tablespoons of chopped pancetta and 10 minutes to make 2 cups of rich pork broth. Isn’t it amazing? The process is really simple – you need to chop the pancetta into small pieces (so it will release flavor quickly); slowly cook the fatty parts to render the oil (same idea as bacon fat); brown the lean part; and add water to boil. This will result in a light brown broth that is just salty enough, and quite richly flavored.
In this recipe, I mixed in some chicken stock to make the soup even more flavorful. If you have dried shrimp, add some of them to the broth. It will make the broth irresistible (adding dried seafood into pork or chicken stock is the traditional way to make a soup base for Cantonese noodles and dumplings).
If you do not want to use chicken stock here, you can add water (1 more cup), with a bit of oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce) to add flavor.
See? You can have a rich and flavorful soup really easily!
2. Quick seafood broth
This is another trick my mom uses all the time. All you need are a few dried shrimp and dried scallops. Soak them ahead of time and cook them with water for 10 minutes. It produces a clear, mild soup that goes great with veggies.
This is the most economical and quick way, if you’re serving soup for dinner on a daily basis. And the prep takes no effort once you’ve tried it. Sometimes when my mom wants to serve a quick soup for dinner, she simply uses this broth and throws in a few green leaves of napa cabbage, or some mustard greens. That’s it!
Variations on the soup
Like I mentioned above, please feel free to tweak the soup ingredients according to your preferences.
I added meatballs into the soup because I was serving it as the main dish for dinner, with a few slices of toasted bread. It only takes another 10 minutes to make these super tender and moist turkey meatballs, which turn a soup into a main dish without adding too many calories.
Of course, you can skip the meatballs and add tons of veggies into the dish. You can also boil some wontons, dumplings, or noodles (wheat or rice), and add them into the soup at the end. The soup will be soothing and delicious no matter which way you go ♥
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Napa Cabbage Soup with Tofu and Meatballs
This soup can be served as a main dish for two, or as a side for four people.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Recipe type: Main, Side
Serves: 2 to 4
- 2 large slices ginger
- 3 to 4 green onions, chopped
(Option 1) Quick pork and chicken broth
(Option 2) Clear seafood broth
(Option 3) Easy broth
- 3 cups chicken stock (or pork stock)
- (230 grams) 1/2 pound ground turkey (or ground pork)
- (Optional) 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion (green part)
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 to 8 large napa cabbage leaves, chopped (generate 6 to 8 cups)
- (Optional) 1/2 daikon radish, peeled and chopped (generates 2 cups)
- 1 batch enoki mushrooms (golden needle mushrooms), tough ends removed and separated
- 1/2 (400g / 14-ounces) block soft tofu, chopped
- Sea salt to taste
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