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Winter Melon Soup
Learn how to cook this easy, healthy, and delicious traditional Chinese winter melon soup (冬瓜汤) with pork ribs, red dates/jujube, and goji berries.
Winter melon (Chinese: 冬瓜) is widely consumed throughout Asia in savory dishes and sweets. The Chinese believes that winter melon helps reduce heat, and is good to be consumed in hot summer weather and/or after eating too many fried food.
One of the most straightforward way to enjoy winter melon is by making the ever popular winter melon soup. I use pork ribs for this, but if you prefer, you can also use chicken instead.
A little introduction on winter melon (冬瓜)
Winter melon has a naturally waxy green skin with white melon like meat. If you have never seen a winter melon before, the first thing you will notice is that they are huge! You can buy a whole melon if you wish, but it will be unwieldy and super heavy.
Almost all stores will cut them up into smaller pieces, somewhere between a quarter of melon to half a melon pieces. Personally, I am quite thankful they do this. These melons can be really big and heavy that most of the time, even a quarter of winter melon can weigh around 2 kilogram (~ 4.5 lb)!
Aside from soup, Chinese usually use this melon to make winter melon tea, and winter melon candies. The candies can be eaten as is, or to be used as filling in Chinese pastries, such as the old-fashioned 老婆饼/lao po bing/wife’s cake.
Chinese dried ingredients to prepare winter melon soup
Aside from the requisite pork ribs (I use spare ribs) and winter melon, I also love adding red dates/jujube, goji berries, and dried squid/cuttlefish.
Red dates/jujube and goji berries have both gone quite mainstream as they are now known as super food. These two should be very easy to find, and if you have access to Chinese markets, most stores should stock these two items. Otherwise, you can always try Amazon.
Both red dates and goji berries are full of nutrients and are considered super food. So I love adding them into my dishes whenever appropriate.😉
As for the dried squid/cuttlefish, you should be able to find these in the refrigerated section of your Asian market, but if your store doesn’t have them, it is okay to skip this harder to find ingredient.
Prep works for preparing Chinese winter melon soup
Before dumping all the ingredients into a soup pot and let your stove simmers away the soup, we need to complete the following prep works.
First, remove the rind and seeds from the winter melon, and cut the meat into chunks. I prefer to cut my winter melon into 2-inch chunks.
Second, boil a pot of water to blanch the pork ribs. Some consider this step optional, but if you want your soup to be clear with no floating scums, you don’t want to skip this step.
Third, soak the dry ingredients in cold water.
And finally, if you do use dry squid/cuttlefish, you can optionally cut this into tiny strips.
Cooking Chinese winter melon soup
Now we can start cooking our winter melon soup.
In a pot, boil together blanched pork ribs, water, winter melon, squid/cuttlefish (if using), and red dates. Reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the pork is tender and the winter melon becomes translucent, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add goji berries and salt, adjust the amount of salt to suit your taste. Bring back to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat.
Our Chinese winter melon soup is done! It is best to serve the soup hot. I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as I do. 😋
Winter Melon Soup
- 500 gram pork ribs, blanched to remove impurities
- 8 cups water
- 1/4 - 1/2 (~ 2 kilogram, or 4.5 lb.) winter melon (Chinese: dong gua), remove rind and seeds, cut into 2 inch wedges
- 1 dried squid/cuttlefish (optional), soaked in cold water
- 8-12 (~ 20 gram) jujube/red dates, soaked in cold water
- 1 tablespoon goji berries, soaked in cold water
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- In a pot, boil together blanched pork ribs, water, winter melon, squid/cuttlefish (if using), and red dates. Reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the pork is tender and the winter melon becomes translucent, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Add goji berries and salt, adjust the amount of salt to suit your taste. Bring back to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat. Serve hot or warm.
It was great! And such a great help for me in my job as domestic helper.... Thank you so much for your help and specially for sharing... God bless!👍👍👍
You are welcome Meding :)
Jacqueline Meldrum says:
I have never heard of melon soup. My head is springing. Although you can't beat a bowl of homemade soup. So comforting.
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says:
This sounds ever so tasty! What a great way to enjoy winter melon.
Haley D. Williams says:
I have never seen anything with winter melon like this! I have to give this a try on the next cold day!
Most likely only Chinese are familiar with this soup. Although we prepare it very simple like this at home, chefs in Chinese restaurants like to cook the soup inside a hollowed out winter melon, and it will make a grand entrance on the table. :)
I have heard about winter melon soup and have always wanted to try it! I have found my go to recipe finally! Thanks
This recipe sounds wonderful. Can I use country style boneless ribs or do I need to use baby back?
Either one is fine Emily, but the pork bones add slightly more richness to the soup.
This sounds so intriguing! I'd love to taste it. Thank you so much for sharing!
Aimee Mars says:
Wow, what a phenomenal mix of ingredients! This soup sounds delicious and healthy.
This soup is so comforting and delicious! I love winter melon and this is definitely one of my favorite ways to eat it!
So comforting and such great flavor for a winter soup!
I've never heard of winter melon but I love a great bowl of hearty soup in the colder weather. This looks delicious!
I've never had anything quite like this soup. Nothing compares to homemade soup, though!
Dhiman Majumder says:
This is a great traditional dish. We always add a few thin slices of fresh ginger to enhance the flavors and more goji berries! 😊
Winter Melon says:
Thanks for sharing! I've never made winter melon soup before, but I've had it several times and I think it's sooo delish! I wish more people who know about this veggie!
Can I substitute dried scallops instead of the squid?
Yes, you can substitute with dried scallops. About 4-6 pieces should be enough. :)
Eileen Chan says:
If I use dried oysters (ho see) how much should I use?
Eileen, you can use 2-3 dried oysters.
Thank you for the recipe. I am wondering if I can substitute the pork for another type of meat? My boyfriend cannot eat pork.
Hi Liz, you can use chicken too.
Can I add Dang gui to this recipe? Will it counter reactivate to the melon cooling effect?
Hi Chriz, medicinally, I am not sure how dang gui will react to the winter melon. Taste wise, I think it should be fine though. :)
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