Chinese Winter Melon Soup (Tung Qwa)

Posted by on April 5, 2010 in Blog, Chinese Cuisine Favorites, Family Favorites, Soup | 2 comments

 

I woke up this morning to a dreary, drizzly, and cold Southern California.

Bebe dada is still coughing, trying to get over his cold and I thought it would be a perfect day to make the Chinese Winter Melon soup that he taught me how to make. We call this tung qwa soup, prounounced “dong-ku-wa”.

Like most of the recipes that I’ve learned from bebe dada, this one is really simple yet really good!

If you order Winter Melon soup at a nice Chinese restaurant, it’s typically more expensive than some of the other soups on the menu (excluding seafood), but you’ll only get a few small cubes of Winter Melon in each bowl.

I buy winter melon (or “tung qwa”) at the local Korean market, H-Mart. It’s only $1.58 for approximately 3/4 of a pound. So we indulge at home and enjoy nice large cubes of Winter Melon in our homemade soup. :)
Wouldn’t you know it though, by 2:00 PM, its blue skies, sunny and slightly warm. Typical Southern California weather. We even had a long, rolling, freaky earthquake yesterday afternoon. Things aren’t complete here without an earthquake every now and then! I love SOCAL!

Chinese Winter Melon Soup

  • 3/4 pound Winter Melon
  • 8 to 10 small dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 16 cups water
  • 3/4 tablespoons salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
  • Meat of your choice (optional)
  • 1 small can beef or chicken broth (optional)

One of the main things that I changed about bebe dada’s recipe for this soup is to use salt and soy sauce in place of the beef bouillon we purchased from the Chinese market. The bouillon that we’ve had in our pantry contains MSG and I’m making the effort to read all labels (something I didn’t always do) and stop using any products that contain the stuff.

So out went the bouillon and in came the salt and soy sauce. I’ve started buying chicken stock and vegetable stock bouillon packets from Trader Joe’s which don’t contain any MSG, but since I don’t have any in my pantry now, I just made do with what I had.

Sometimes, if we have leftover Costco rotisserie chicken, we’ll add some shredded chicken to this soup as well. This makes the soup really yummy.

Today, I had some leftover chunks of ham in the freezer so I threw in 2 chunks of ham to help flavor the soup. In the past, bebe dada has thrown in a piece of leftover prime rib, but you get the picture – - – any type of meat will help flavor the broth. And of course if you don’t like meat, this is a great vegetarian soup without it.

Directions:

Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl with 2 cups warm water for 30 minutes. I usually place another bowl on top of the mushrooms to submerge them.

Meanwhile remove and discard seeds and stringy center of the melon. I use a knife for this because the melon is a little tough.

Slice the melon lengthwise into 3 smaller wedges. Remove the outer skin of the melon. Once I tried cutting the melon out of its skin by sliding the edge of the knife from the top of one end of the melon to the other, but the skin and melon are both too tough for this so I don’t recommend this as this is hazardous to your fingers.

Instead, lay the melon wedge on its side, and cut off the rind in pieces.

Next, cube the melon into large pieces and place in a large stock pot.

Cut off stems from the reconstituted shiitake mushrooms and reserve liquid from the bowl. If some of the reconstituted mushrooms are large, slice them in half.

Add the shiitake mushrooms, including the reserved liquid to the pot. Note, this liquid is the base of the soup’s broth.

Add meat of your choice. I used ham since I had some in the freezer.

Add 14 cups of water to pot and bring to boil. Add salt and shoyu (soy sauce).

Turn down heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and simmer another 30 minutes until the melon is very tender.

Depending on your palate, add extra salt and a dash of black pepper.

If you like a little zest to your soup, try adding some sliced ginger.

Hope this soup warms your soul!

Judy | bebe mama

 

Chinese Winter Melon Soup (Tung Qwa)
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ pound Winter Melon
  • 8 to 10 small dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 16 cups water
  • ¾ tablespoons salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
  • Meat of your choice (optional)
  • 1 small can beef or chicken broth (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl with 2 cups warm water for 30 minutes. I usually place another bowl on top of the mushrooms to submerge them.
  2. Meanwhile remove and discard seeds and stringy center of the melon. I use a knife for this because the melon is a little tough.
  3. Slice the melon lengthwise into 3 smaller wedges. Remove the outer skin of the melon. TIP: Lay the melon wedge on its side, and cut off the rind in pieces.
  4. Next, cube the melon into large pieces and place in a large stock pot.
  5. Cut off stems from the reconstituted shiitake mushrooms and reserve liquid from the bowl. If some of the reconstituted mushrooms are large, slice them in half.
  6. Add the shiitake mushrooms, including the reserved liquid to the pot. Note, this liquid is the base of the soup’s broth.
  7. Add meat of your choice. I used ham since I had some in the freezer.
  8. Add 14 cups of water to pot and bring to boil. Add salt and shoyu (soy sauce).
  9. Turn down heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and simmer another 30 minutes until the melon is very tender.
  10. Depending on your palate, add extra salt and a dash of black pepper.
  11. If you like a little zest to your soup, try adding some sliced ginger.

2 Comments

  1. avatar

    Hi bebe mama! Love your blog! This is awesome! Could you please post your lasagna recipe? I loved it when you made it for us, and would love to try making it sometime. I’m going to have to some of these that you’ve already posted. I feel very guilty we don’t make our own baby food. Haley’s a Gerber baby. One day, I’ll get my hand blender out & will try it. Looking forward to your future posts!

    • avatar

      Hi June, Thank you! One of these days I’ll post the lasagna. I did give the recipe to James awhile back but the foundation for that is the spaghetti with meat sauce recipe’s meat sauce. :)

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