Chinese Daikon and Carrot Soup
I’ve been making a lot of Chinese home-style soups lately – Nathan has been going through some health challenges lately and all he wants to eat is clear soup. My house smells like Mom’s house when I simmer a pot of soup.
One most frequently asked questions I get is, “what’s your favorite recipe from your Mom?” It’s tough to just pick ONE single recipe so I’ll pick my top 3 categories – Fried Rice, Crispy Spring Rolls and Soup – any Chinese soup.
Soup is easy to make, but tough to master. Simply boiling ingredients and adding enough salt will make anything from flavored water to somewhat decent soup. I’m talking about making a broth that’s rich and concentrated but also clear and clean.
What is clear and clean soup? Well the French technique to making clear soup, or consommé, is to stir in egg whites. The proteins of the egg whites will collect and trap all of the sediment and fat from the soup, which then gets discarded.
The Asian way is different:
- Par-boil the meats and/or bones to get rid of the fats and other “muckity muck” that would otherwise cloud and taint your soup. (i.e. skin, blood, bone fragments, dirt – the stuff that makes for cloudy soup)
- Use umami-boosting dried or preserved ingredients to create nutritional benefits, richness and savoryness – dried Chinese mushroom, dried shrimp, dried scallops, dried abalone, preserved turnip, dried dates, dried lily buds, dried figs….well, you get the picture. If it can be preserved/dried, it will….and the Chinese will use it for soup!
I know your next question….”Doesn’t the par-boiling take away a lot of the flavor?”
The answer is no. Unless you count that scuzzy stuff as flavor. You don’t want that crap in your soup anyways. The real flavor of soup comes from a long, slow, gentle simmer of the meat and bones. Unless you use a pressure cooker, which I sometimes do too. But that’s a different sort of cooking technique.
This recipe, like all of my recipes, is flexible. Don’t eat pork? Use chicken instead. No daikon? Try potato. No dried shrimp/scallops? It’s optional.