A common craving after being far from home for many Chinese people is a bowl of heartwarming soup. In the eyes of the Chinese, soup is more like broth – more liquid-y and simmered for two or three hours for the flavours of the ingredients to seep through. It’s believed that drinking Chinese soup can take away the “heat” and nourishes a person, with effects of improving skin, health, and to soothe one’s emotions, especially those with certain Chinese herbs.
I never understood nor appreciated the effort behind one bowl of concoction until I actually made it myself. As with many things. I’m not sure about any scientific evidence for better health, but I do know that the moment when I bring my bowl up to my lips and take a gulp I feel warm and fuzzy inside. And that’s when I understood the importance of home, family, and that toasty bowl of soup.
Not to mention the lovely aromas from the simmering pot of goodness every time which would fill all two floors of the house. And the symbolism of making soup was a gesture that one cared. That one wanted to bring the sense of family back into the house. That it was okay to be homesick, because there was part of a cure at hand.
Chinese Carrot and Corn Soup
Prep time: 2-3hours
5 sticks of carrot
2 sticks of corn, chopped in half
4 pork ribs*
2 dried figs (optional; they make the soup ‘sweeter’)
1. Blanch the ribs in boiling water for about 5 – 10 minutes. This is to a) get rid of excess oil in the meat, b) the blood-water in the meat and prevent a layer of brown “cooked” blood on the top of soup, and c) to kill any bacteria in the pork.
2. Chop the carrots into small chunks. Place all the ingredients into a big pot and fill with tap water. Bring to boil, then allow to simmer for 2 – 3 hours. Remember to check on it every now and again to make sure the water doesn’t all evaporate, otherwise you’d be left with a pot of coal.
3. Season to taste and enjoy – I didn’t even have to add any salt into mine as the flavours from the ingredients were alone were already so dense!
*Most people would use a slab of lean pork meat, but it’s not that easy to find in smaller supermarkets in the UK. Ribs are more fatty though – I guess it’s true that calories are a measure of how good things taste.
My experience in university is that having a massive pot of soup in the kitchen generates quite a few meals. You can always re-boil the ingredients by adding more water (and maybe a couple more carrots) and leaving it to simmer away for another 2 hours. One of my lunches at university would be using leftover soup from the night before to be the base of noodles for lunch – eating the vegetables and bits of meat from the soup is more filling and satisfying than expected!
home is where the heart is, and may it carry nothing less.