Autumn soup – Cantonese vegetarian pumpkin soup with cashew
初秋湯水 —— 南瓜雪耳腰果湯（素食）
I posted a pumpkin soup recipe at the same season last year and just realized it has become one of my most viewed recipes. I have been cautious when writing soup recipes since some of the very serious Cantonese soups may serve medical purpose and I don’t want readers to believe in drinking some sort of soups can cure disease, without consulting medical advise. Moreover, some ingredients might not be easily obtained in Asian grocery stores but be in Chinese medicine clinic and pharmacy. I want to share with you soups that are tasty, easy to prepare and scientifically proved to be healthy. It’s again early autumn now and according to Cantonese soup principle, unlike summer when light soups with ingredients that can chase away the heat in the body and the effects of humid vapors are prepared, autumn is the right season to have slightly nourishing soups. Yes, it’s a long story but in short, Cantonese have a collection of soups for different occasions, weather or body condition. Soup culture is considered the most complicated in Cantonese cuisine and Cantonese food culture anyway.
Since some of my vegetarian friends have always urged me to write more vegetarian recipes, I think it’s nice to have a vegetarian version of my Cantonese/Chinese pumpkin soup. Though traditionally Cantonese/Chinese soups are hardly vegetarian, say, my parents couldn’t imagine soups without pork marrow bones, chicken, or dried seafood. Meat or dried seafood can certainly make the soup taste better. More importantly, they all serve with particular medical or health purposes. Well, in Cantonese soup theory, ingredients have to be strictly matched and mixed according to their individual benefit in order to serve a grander health purpose. However, there has been growing population of vegetarian or vegan Chinese worldwide and also there are a large number of vegetarian wanting to try cooking Chinese food. Thus, vegetarian Cantonese soups are getting more popular in recent years.
In order to replace meat, nuts and dried mushrooms are usually used. In this recipe, pumpkin is the key ingredient. It’s packed with vitamins and fiber. It’s one of the most common and healthy vegetable and can be obtained easily year round. But it’s seasonal in autumn, particularly sweet and starchy. Besides pumpkin, carrot and sweet corn, I also use cashew nuts and snow fungus. Cashew nuts have such nice nutty, sweet and slightly savoury taste. And snow fungus makes the soup smooth and silky. In general, this soup is tasty, simple, and nutritious; it can clear the ‘heat’ in human body, nourishing lung and tonify kidney and spleen.
(For those who want to add some meat in your soup, just simply blanch some pork ribs, lean pork or pork marrow bones if you know where to purchase, then boil with other ingredients below. For more detail, read my previous recipe – Autumn soup – Pumpkin Soup in Chinese soup style.)
How to do –
1. Prepare the ingredients – snow fungus soaked in water for 10 minutes till it’s soft enough to be torn apart, tear it into big pieces, and cut off the dark yellow part with scissor, wash and check if there’s any dirt in between the gaps; wash the cashew nuts; chop off the hard peel of pumpkin, and remove the seeds with a spoon, chop to big chunks; carrot and radish also peeled, cut into big chunks; sweet corns chop to smaller chunks;
2. Put them all in a big soup pot, pour in at least 1500ml of water. Lid on and bring to boil in high heat, then simmer in medium-low heat for 1 hour. Have a taste and you might season with a nip of salt. Keep the lid on and heat off, let the soup sit for at least 10 minutes;
3. Stir with soup spoon gently and the pumpkin would just naturally break apart and blend in the soup. You could have a big bowl of this for a light lunch or dinner. Or serve with noodles or rice noodles. In a more Chinese way, serve with steamed rice, and one or two stir-fried meat or vegetable.
用料 —— 三至四人份
- 南瓜 800克
- 雪耳 1朵
- 腰果 100克
- 玉米 2根
- 青红萝卜 各300克