Soups

Soups

By
Fuchsia Dunlop
Contains
8 recipes
Published by
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
ISBN
9781408869239
Photographer
Chris Terry

For most Chinese people, soup is an essential part of a meal. Sometimes it is served as an appetiser, but more often it is offered alongside other dishes, or towards the end of the meal. In restaurants, the soup may be served in individual bowls, while at home, a great bowlful of soup – the equivalent of a Western tureen – will be placed on the table with a serving spoon so everyone can help themselves.

While the soups served in Chinese restaurants abroad tend to be the dense, somewhat heavy soups that the Chinese call geng (a soup thick with finely cut ingredients), most Chinese meals include a very lightly seasoned broth (known as a tang) to refresh the palate after the other dishes. In a Sichuanese home, this might be as simple as a broth made by simmering pickled mustard greens in water, with a few bean thread noodles added at the end.

Traditionally, the soup might be the only liquid served with a meal, which is perhaps why Chinese people always talk of ‘drinking’ soup rather than ‘eating’ it. The way to consume a typical home-cooked soup is to ladle some into your empty rice bowl after you’ve eaten your fill of the other dishes. Then use your chopsticks to eat the solid pieces of food from the soup and drink the liquid from the lip of the bowl. Where the soup contains pieces of meat or poultry, they may be dipped into a little dish of soy or chilli bean sauce before eating.

Although Chinese soups are generally eaten as part of a Chinese meal, as described, many of them also work well as Western appetisers.

Because the soups that follow are intended to be shared, portion sizes are inexact, but as a general rule a soup of 1.5 litres will serve up to six people.

Recipes in this Chapter

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