Sze Chuan Vegetable Pork Ribs Soup

Szechuan Vegetable Soup with Dried Scallop and Spare Ribs


“Time to put on your appron! A simple and yummy soup tonight, please.”

Today, my colleagues and I had a “secret slimming soup” topic over lunch. She wanted to get some ingredients to cook a soup meal for herself tonight. I was pretty excited to find out more as my interest is to cook fast and easy meal (winking smile). She found some vegetables soup recipes from a site that claimed to help weight loss by having the soup with the exact ingredients of vegetables given. I was curious, and asked to know more… Well, the vegetables ingredients mentioned such as cabbage, carrot, green pepper (capsicum), pasley, and etc, are colourful combination and each vegetable is nutritious, but… hey, I really cannot imagine what taste would the soup be, seriously.. It’s kinda taste weird to me huh.

My colleague also told us that it supposed to be a series of soup meal that one has to follow through in order to lost weight… Weight loss? Hmm.. what I could say is, such combination of vegetables used considered as nutritious diet, good for health. However, to aid in slimming, despite the fact that clear soup with only vegetables = low calories, it sounds a little insane to believe its effect of losing weight just like that, you don’t think so?

Don’t misinterpreted the site, friend.. By drinking 5 – 7 days of low calories soup surely helps to lost weight, but not the combination that gives you the effect, you buy my explanation? Take something nutritious and light will give you the same effect.

Weight loss is a long run program that requires lots of effort. If one is taking her/his slimming goal seriously, starts with something more pleasant, and gradually, such as reducing meals and not skip meals, reducing calories bit by bit and not high reduction of calories spontanteously, take light palatable food and not having something tasteless or weird as daily meals (which might extinguish your determination after awhile). Do some exercise, too. Just my opinion.

Well, time to put on your appron, and I gonna share one of my soup recipe here. A fast and easy soup with simple ingredients, and yet flavorful one (smiling). I added white peppercorn to this recipe. A little spicy though (depends on how much peppercorn used. Reduce or increase the amount, as desired). However, its exotic flavour adds not just the aroma and pungency to the soup, peppercorn offers health benefits as well. It is widely used in Asia and Europe as seasoning and medicine since ancient time. If you are cooking it for children, too, add half the recommended amount of peppercorn, or eliminate it totally.

400g lean pork ribs (about 10 – 12 pieces of short length ribs), blanched
1 large Szechuan vegetables (palm-size)
1 teaspoon of white peppercorn, coarsely crushed
1 pot of water, 70% filled (about 1500 – 2000ml)

2 – 3 dried/ canned scallops (soaked for 10 mins, if dried scallops)

1) Wash the Szechuan vegetable thoroughly, cut into quarters, and steep (soak) in clean water for 15min.

2) Bring a pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Add blanched ribs and soaked Szechuan vegetable. (Add also the scallops, as optional).

3) Put peppercorn into a small ingredient cloth bag. Tied up, and place it in the soup. Or, just add directly into the soup, as I did.

4) Reduce heat, and cover lid. Simmer the soup for 45min, or until the ribs are tender. Serve hot.

Alternative cooking method: If you prefer to use a slow cooker, prepare it early in the morning or the night before, make sure you soak the Szechuan vegetable for 30min. Then, add all ingredients into the croaked pot, put the pot into the cooker and set fire to Auto-shift. You’ll get the most exotic soup, by the time you reached home in evening.

Szechuan vegetable aka “Zha Cai” (Chinese translation: 榨菜) is a kind of pickled mustard stem originated from Sichuan, China. It is available at most of the vegetable stores in wet market or vacuum-packed at the supermarket. I get the vacuum packed type costs $1.50 – $2 per packet, most of the time, easily available  The Szechuan vegetable is preserved with salt and hot spice, but no worries, just wash it thoroughly and soak in clean water for 15 – 20 min. Steeping is a MUST procedure as this preserved vegetable is very salty. Cut into smaller pieces will help to shorten the steeping time. Remember, need not to add salt. 45 min of boiling time should extract enough saltiness from the Szechuan vegetable to the soup.

A regular bowl of soup counts about 110kcal. By all mean, go ahead to have it just on its own. It has the vegetable and meat with tasty soup that good enough to keep your stomach filled. Low calories, too! Nearly forget to tell you, it takes only 1 hr to get it served. 15 mins of preparation, and 45 mins of simmering time which you may do any other thing freely. Hope you like it.

Tips: You can always boil for longer hour to add body to the soup (becoming thicker and saltier), or vice versa. One more point to remember, the longer boiling time, the more spiciness of crushed peppercorn.
*I used canned scallops as I like the sweetness of the scallops in the soup. It will not add much saltiness to the soup with canned scallops or soaked dried ones.
*Reduce the amount of ingredients by half, for 1 – 2 servings.

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