Delicately flavored with ikan bilis and dried shrimps, this Chinese winter melon soup with lean pork and straw mushrooms is light, tasty and comforting without being too heavy.
There are so many delicious variations of a winter melon soup. For this quick and easy Chinese winter melon soup recipe, you’ll only need 30 minutes of cooking time. Perfect for days when you just want a tasty soup that can be prepared quickly and not spend too much time in the kitchen.
Winter melon has no flavor on its own but it will readily absorb the flavors of whatever liquid it is cooked in. To flavor the soup, I used ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and xia mi (dried small shrimps). Dried shrimps are a common ingredient used in Chinese foods from dim sum dishes like chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll), zongzi (Chinese dumpling) to stir-fries and sambal (a spicy condiment).
If you have small dried scallops, you may substitute the dried shrimps and ikan bilis with them. Small dried scallops are more suitable for quick boil soups compared to larger dried scallops as they cook faster. Be sure to soak them first before use.
Whole winter melons are huge; growing as large as 80 cm in length when matured. Buy the disc section of the winter melon for easier cutting and preparation. Trim off the skin and remove the seeds. Then cut it into large chunks.
Winter melon is known to have diuretic effect and helps to relieve heat related symptoms and clears toxin in our body. It is also high in dietary fibre and vitamin C and is very low in fat. So if you’re on a weight loss plan, you may include this as part of your diet. It also has detoxifying effects, just like this Daikon Radish Soup.
The straw mushrooms here provide a textural contrast to the soft winter melon. You can substitute them with other mushrooms like reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms or button mushrooms if preferred. If you’re using dried shiitake mushrooms, don’t add too many of them or they will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the winter melon soup.
It took me less than an hour to cook this along with some rice and a veggie for a complete meal. Thoroughly satisfying! 🙂
Do you have a favourite way of cooking winter melon soup? Feel free to share with me your recipe and comments in the comments section below.
Other winter melon soup recipes you may like:
Winter Melon with Barley Soup.
Last but not least, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it on your social media. Happy cooking and see you soon! 🙂
- 700 g winter melon disc - cut into large cubes
- 200 g lean pork - sliced into thin strips
- 200 g straw mushrooms - cut into halves
- 50 g ikan bilis
- 30 g dried shrimps
- 1.2 litres water (or use just enough water to immerse all the ingredients)
- Seasoning for Lean Pork
- ½ tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tbsp shallot oil (can be substituted with sesame oil)
- ½ tbsp corn starch
- splash of Shaoxing wine
- dash of white pepper
- Salt - to taste
- Cut pork into thin slices of about 1cm width and season it with the marinade ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
- Peel the winter melon skin with a sharp knife, remove the seeds and cut into large cubes.
- Cut all the straw mushrooms into halves.
- Rinse ikan bilis and dried shrimp. Place ikan bilis, dried shrimp and winter melon into a medium sized soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 25 minutes.
- minutes before turning off the flame, add in sliced pork and straw mushrooms. Cover the pot and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste
A Habil says
Hi thanks for this recipe.
It looks and sounds delicious.
May I ask your opinion;
1) What is the suitable replacement for pork? As I ak vegetarian, do you think I can replicate this recipe without using pork?
2) How can I tell when the melon is cooked? Is there any simple way to check?
Surely, this will make a great side dish.
Yes, you can cook this soup without pork. For vegetarians, I would recommend that you replace the water with vegetable stock. The winter melon will turn soft when cooked.
Oh, YUM! Thanks for the reminder, Yvonne….
I found an interesting substitute for winter melon, by the way: Cucumbers! If you leave the skin on, the things don’t fall apart into nothing and it’s a lot easier to find when melon’s not in season.
I like your focus on soups. There is nothing quite as nice as a light soup for breakfast….
I’ve not tried cucumber soup before. Sounds interesting! Over here in Singapore, we can find winter melon all year round. It can be paired with many types of ingredients to make a soup.
Besides soups, I also have recipes for other dishes. Do check out the Recipe Index! 🙂
Heather Montgomery says
Yvonne! I love this recipe! I can’t wait to try out more Chinese dishes.
When I eat Asian foods, it’s usually Korean food I stick to, but I’ve always wanted to get to know Chinese food as well. I’ll definitely be back to your site.
You said that the winter melon doesn’t have a flavor. Does it do well in more dessert-like dishes other than candying it? Like in an ice cream or something?
Thanks for writing in. I’m glad to hear that you’d like to know more about Chinese food. Winter melon works equally well in both savory and sweet dessert soups. It is regarded as a cooling ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is really great to eat in hot weathers or when your body feels heaty.
Excellent information. I love how you put the recipe right there. I am going to go and get some ingredients and try this out. I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you.
Hi, Yvonne. I am such a foodie, I can’t believe this is my first visit to your site. Awesome, by the way! I’ll have to try your recipe and come back to let you know how I liked it. I’m always trying new recipes to ‘wow’ my family. Nice post!
Welcome to Souper Diaries! Feel free to browse and try any recipes here and share with us your feedback 🙂
This looks delicious! I am a simple eater so when I see things like these they really intrigue me. I like your site a lot the recipes make me want to spend more time in the kitchen LOL.
As an athlete, I find my diet almost too simple so I’ll probably tell my girl to cook some of these:) Thanks for posting very interesting!
Welcome to Souper Diaries. Do try out the recipe and let me know how it turns out for you! :
Hi Yvonne Your soup recipe sounds delicious. Some of the ingredients though I am not sure of. Would you find winter melon, straw mushrooms and ikan bilis in your local supermarket or would you need to go to a store that specializes in Chinese? Also I am not really sure what you mean by the soup will relieve heat related symptoms. I live in a colder climate so when we have soup it is usually to warm us up.
Hi Maureen, winter melons are available at both a local farmers market and also the vegetable section of your local supermarket. The straw mushrooms that I used for this recipe are the canned type so you can try to look for that in your local supermarket too. For the ikan bilis, you may find them at any shop that sells Asian dried goods and also in the Asian section of the supermarket. Alternatively, they are also available on Amazon where I have listed them below the article.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), too much heat in the body is caused by excess yang. Heat related symptoms appears mostly as the common colds, flu, sore throat, thirst, headache and irritability, just to name a few. You can read more about it here: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/chinese/traditional-chinese-medicine-causes-of-illness4.htm
Thank you for writing in. If you have any more questions, I would love to help.
I really loved the recipe for Chinese Winter Melon Soup. I plan to try to make this wonderful sounding Chinese soup at home. I like the idea of have something light, but tasty on those days when I donâ€™t want to eat heavy. Iâ€™ll probably be trying this soup this weekend! Thanks for the great post!
Ive never had winter melon or even heard of it but i would try it. Chinese food is always good from my experiences as long as its not a run down buffet.
I hope you’ll like this recipe, Kyle. Thanks for dropping in and hope to see you again 🙂
I love your site! Glad I can print this recipe. I have very hot weather here in Alabama USA and will try to grow this melon. I read about it on your other page. Great article, I will come back to visit soon.
Nice, do keep me updated if you decide to grow the winter melon. Thanks for your comments and hope to see you again soon 🙂
Johnathan Tarter says
This looks like a very tasty Chinese recipe and is something I would love to eat myself! Thank you for sharing this delicious soup recipe! 🙂
Mmm this soup looks very refreshing and yummy! Love the info nuggets on wintermelon, and never knew that the pork should be added last (haha). Am learning loads from your blog! Keep on writing and thanks for sharing your recipes! 🙂
I’m glad you brought up this point about the pork. The reason I added it last was because I used lean pork which was thinly sliced so it cooked really fast. If you leave the lean pork in the soup for prolonged simmering it will render the meat tough. Hope it helps. Thanks for your comments 🙂
I have to say that I would not have thought of putting melon in a hot soup. I have had winter melon before, I just cannot remember in what form for the life of me. I know it has a slight sweet taste but is pretty bland. So it makes sense that it would absorb the liquid from the soup. I like how easy your soups always seem to be. But I am sure they are full of flavor from all the little touches you put in them 🙂 Thank you for sharing traditional recipes such as this one.
You’re welcome, Emily. Yes, winter melon is bland on its own so it needs to be boiled with other ingredients to make it tasty. Thanks for your comments 🙂
Anne Line says
Hello Vonnie, I really enjoyed your post. I like Chinese food, so I found this recipe interesting and helpful. I love the pictures and the information that you provided. I like that your website is easy to navigate and there are many recipes that I would like to try.
Hi Anne, thanks for visiting and your kind comments. Keep coming back for more tasty recipes! 🙂