A lot of us claim that boiling soup is the easiest thing to do in the art of cooking. It looks like boiling soup is just a matter of combining all ingredients in to a pot, bring it to a boil, lower the heat and simmer or double boil for 2-3 hours. It is not difficult, really, but if we were to get hold of the little tricks in making soup, our soups will turn out to be better, in terms of taste and nutritional value.
- Selection of ingredients - Meats and vegetables used for boiling soup have to be as fresh as possible. To cut down oiliness, pick only parts like lean meat, chicken breast, pork bones, ribs, chicken feet, chicken wings etc. In the case of using chicken carcasses, trim all fats. Point (2) below also helps in getting rid part of oiliness of meats.
- Pre-treatment of raw ingredients - Clean all meats, bones, vegetables and herbs thoroughly. Ingredients like bones/ribs/carcasses and preferably also herbs have to be boiled and removed their fats and impurities. Follow Step 1 of below recipe for pre-treatment of meats and bones. Take note that water must not be brought to a boil before meats or bones are added. The temperature of the hot boiling water causes a sudden shrinkage at the outer layer of the meat, forming a 'skin' that prevents juices of meats from loosing into the water. This is not desired in soup boiling as what we want is the essence of meat in our soup.
- Addition of ingredients - The addition of ingredients, including meats, vegetables, herbs and other dried ingredients into the soup has to be done when the water is still cold due to the same reason as mentioned in Point 2 above.
- Boiling time - Boiling time defers according to the ingredients being used. Soup that contains pork bones has to be boiled longer while fish soup can be ready within 1 hour.
- Impurities and oil - Despite the pre-treatment in Point 2, there will still be impurities and oil in the soup due to the long boiling process. Use a fine strainer to remove these.
- Seasoning - Salt can only be added at the end of the boiling process, before serving. Addition of salt at the begining of the boiling will cause contraction in the meat protein, making it difficult for juices/essence of meat from penetrating into the soup. Soup that contains seafood is normally seasoned with ginger (shreds or juice) and group black pepper to rid the strong smell of most seafood.
Sweet Corn & Pork Bone Soup
500g pork bones or ribs
2 sweet corns, halved
2 carrots, cut into sections
2 candied dates (金丝蜜枣）
Salt to taste (I needed only 1/2 tsp)
- Clean pork bones/ribs. In a pot, add water enough to cover the pork bones or ribs; bring water and bones/ribs to a boil. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes to get rid of impurities and blood stains. Wash bones again under running water.
- In another pot, combine all ingredients, including the cleaned pork bones/ribs. Bring to a boil, lower heat and continue to boil for 2 hours.
- Season with salt, if necessary.