|chinese borscht, aka abc soup, aka luo song tang (罗宋汤).|
Everyone seems to have their own way of making this soup, with slight (or not-so-slight) variations in ingredients plus other quirks. My mum always uses either chicken or pork, but I've seen others use beef. I've even tried making it with lamb, which is rather unorthodox but also wonderful. But that's not all. Which cut? On the bone or filleted? (For the record, I prefer using not-so-lean cuts, and I find meat on the bone tends to end up more lusciously tender.) Aside from that, the choice and balance of vegetables also vary. Then there's the matter of method and presentation. Some people like the ingredients fine and dainty in the form of little cubes - not me. Chunky and hearty is how I roll.
In the end, you play with the basic idea and make this your own. No one I know bothers with a recipe when they make Chinese borscht, at least not after their first attempt. It's rustic, adaptable, effortlessly delicious - and that's why we love it.
Without further ado, here's a rough guide to how I usually do it...
|A lovely and nutritious soup-stew, perfect for any weather.|
chinese borscht / abc soup / luo song tang 罗宋汤 (serves 2)
3 cups water (add more if it reduces too much during the cooking process)
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 medium carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1 small onion, roughly sliced
2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled (optional)
3 chicken thigh fillets, roughly chopped, or 4 chicken drumsticks on the bone
seasonings: light soy sauce and white pepper, or salt and freshly ground black pepper
I usually approach this in a fairly casual manner: I pour the water into a large pot over a robust flame, and while waiting for it to boil, I set about chopping up my ingredients and throwing them into the pot as I go.
I do either the potatoes or the carrots first, then fling in the tomatoes, onion and garlic. By this time, the water is boiling quite merrily and I'll put the chicken in, turn the heat down and let it gently simmer, covered, for approximately 45 minutes or until everything is superbly tender and the potatoes and carrots are almost, but not quite falling apart into the gradually thickening soup. Now all it needs is a final touch of light soy sauce and white pepper - alternatively, salt and cracked black pepper is also always a good bet.
Serve this as a soup entree, or have it as a main meal with steamed rice.
Oh, and one more thing! Feel free to double or even triple the recipe if you have a generously sized pot and ample space in the refrigerator, for after you finishing cooking this, the flavours will continue to schmooze and mingle even as it cools down, begging you to re-heat it again hours later for another meal. Your Chinese borscht then transforms from a summer-friendly soup into a winter-worthy stew. Either way, it's homely bliss to warm one's soul, over and over again...
|come on, have a spoonful of chinese borscht!|