Grandma’s classic Lotus Root and Pork Soup is super comforting and uses just a handful of ingredients! It has a light broth with fall apart pork simmered in a garlic and ginger infused homemade stock. As all Cantonese soups promise, one bowl is guaranteed to warm your soul!
Comfort in a bowl
There’s something really special about a dish when you’ve had it for decades and the just thought of it still makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Grandma’s Lotus Root and Pork Soup does exactly that for me.
We often have it as part of weeknight dinners with favorites like Steamed Pork Belly with Salted Radish, Chinese Steamed Egg (蒸水蛋) and Stir Fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste, but it’s also a classic that gets served during the Lunar New Year as part of reunion banquets.
It has such a cherished place in my heart because it’s the perfect balance of savory and nutty flavors.
You get the delicately creamy beans and peanuts enhanced by fall apart pork straight off the bone. Pair that with a gentle warmth from ginger and you’ve got yourself an ultra soothing soup.
It’s the best recipe to finish a dinner banquet!
All you need to know about lotus root
What it is
These vegetables are the rootstalks (or rhizomes) of lotus flowers, which grow in Indian, Asian and Australian rivers. The rhizome is used in many Asian cuisines including China, Japan, India, Vietnam and Korea.
They’re often enjoyed deep fried, boiled, pickled, steamed, stuffed, stir fried or in soups like this one.
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There is a fairly high ratio of starch content in the rhizome, which makes it comparable to potatoes. Like potatoes, they’re rather tasteless but have a firm and crunchy texture when raw.
The most unique feature of having Lotus Root and Pork Soup is that when you bite into a cooked one and pull away, you may find the pieces are connected by very fine strands that are almost transparent.
As a child, I was utterly confused by this and often thought they looked and felt like spider webs. Thank goodness it tasted amazing, though!
How do you know when lotus root is bad?
There are a few ways to tell if the vegetable is no longer good to use. Here are some things to look out for the next time you plan to buy it:
- Color. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the color, the worse it is. You’re after white or light pink flesh. If you notice that it’s dark pink, yellow or brown, it’s best to avoid it.
- Texture. Lotus roots will soften as they cook, but should be firm and crunchy when fresh.
- Smell and taste. If you taste any sour parts in the vegetable, it has spoiled. It may also come across in the smell as you cut it open. Newly grown lotus roots have a sweet taste and smell, not sour.
To keep it fresher for longer, make sure to have it refrigerated. That way, you can use it at a time that better suits you.
Enjoying the rhizome comes with many nutrients, including vitamins, fibre, protein, zinc, potassium and iron. It is said that the rootstalk helps to boost the immune system, assist with digestion and improves the circulation of blood.
All the more reason to try it in this recipe!
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Why this recipe works
- Adding crushed garlic and ginger adds an extra depth of aromatic flavor.
- Using peanuts and adzuki beans means you get a wonderfully nutty broth with more texture.
- Simmering pork bones adds a natural sweetness and leaves the dish with more to munch on.
What you’ll need
About the ingredients
All the dried and fresh ingredients used in this recipe can be found in Asian supermarkets.
Our homemade stock calls for a combination of chicken and pork, but this recipe works well with more pork bones.
Some families like to use different ingredients for their Lotus Root and Pork Soup. You might like to try adding cuttlefish for a subtle seafood flavor as we do for our Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang (Vietnamese Pork and Prawn Clear Noodle Soup).
Alternatively, you can add Chinese dried herbs for a herbal flavor, which resembles the flavors of our Buddha Jumps Over The Wall Soup (佛跳墙).
How to make this recipe
Peel then wash and cut the lotus roots into 5mm (0.2″) slices.
Bring the stock to a boil and add in the lotus root, blanched peanuts and adzuki beans as they take longer to soften.
Remove the skin off the garlic and gently crush it using a flat utensil like a cleaver, then put them into the broth.
Use a cleaver (or any other flat utensil) to slap at the ginger until it starts to flatten. Add it to the broth.
Season the broth with the salt and chicken bouillon powder, bring it to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low-medium to gently simmer for 1 hour with the lid partially on. Skim the floating scum and oil every 10-15 minutes as it cooks.
Note: If you are using a homemade bone stock, remove any chicken after it has softened. Generally this is about 3 hours after a low simmer.
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Serve hot as is!
Tips for the best results
- Add pork bone in your broth. Not only will there be extra flavor from the marrow, you’ll also have pork pieces to munch on as you enjoy the soup!
- Use fresh ingredients. Fresh root vegetables tend to be softer than old ones and more likely to absorb the broth essence.
- Resist over-seasoning. The dish might taste bland after 10 minutes of simmering, but keep it on a low-medium heat for another 20 minutes, then taste test before re-reasoning. You may be surprised at how much the flavor changes in a short period of time!
Extra Cozy Soup Suggestions
- Chinese Watercress Soup (西洋菜汤) – A light, wholesome broth flavored with melt-in-your-mouth greens.
- Chinese Fish Soup (魚頭爐) – Tangy, fragrant and rich with fresh fish, you’ll enjoy every moment with this recipe.
- Fish Maw Soup – This is a thick and nutritious favorite that is served at celebrations for all the right reasons.
- Chicken Feet Soup (雞腳汤) – If you want a healthy dose of collagen, you won’t want to miss this Cantonese classic!
- Pig Stomach Soup with Peppercorns (胡椒豬肚湯) – A traditional soup perfect for new mothers. You won’t want to miss the fall apart ingredients!
- Canh Khoai Mỡ (Creamy Purple Yam Soup) – Deliciously luscious, this Vietnamese dish makes the best of a humble root vegetable.
- Stuffed Bittermelon Soup (Canh Khổ Qua) – There’s nothing quite like the refreshingly light broth in this family favorite. Bonus: You get to enjoy a super moist stuffing!
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This post was originally published on 8/8/20 and updated with new photos in June 2021.
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