March 2, 2008

Chinese Winter Melon Soup

On a recent trip to the Asian grocery store, I picked up a slice of winter melon and dried wood ear mushrooms. A friend suggested that I make a soup out of it, so I adapted this recipe and found that I really liked this simple soup. The melon and wood ear mushrooms are both mild tasting, but lend so much flavor to the soup. A good quality stock really makes the soup shine. I used a store bought stock with good results. Dried shiitake mushrooms or any other dried mushrooms would work just as well in place of the wood ear mushrooms.

While writing up this post, I found out that winter melon is not uncommon in India (Hindi: petha, pethakaddu, Tamil: neer poosanikai, Bengali: Chal kumra, Malayalam: kumbalanga, Telugu: booDida Gummadikaaya, Kannada: boodagumbala). Now that I know it is used in Indian recipes, I have to give some of those a try sometime. This is my entry for Weekend herb blogging hosted this week by Anna from Morsels and Musings.

(This picture is reproduced with permission from Marc at Mental Masala)

Chinese Winter Melon Soup
2-3 cup winter melon (1/2 pound)
Water to boil winter melon
2-3 cups chicken broth
handful chinese dried black mushrooms
5-6 slices ginger
1/4 cup cooked ham, diced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 green onion, green part only, washed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
a handful of cilantro to garnish

1. Wash the winter melon, remove the green skin, seeds, and the pulp. Cut into 2-inch pieces. (Peel the skin thickly as the melon closer to the skin will be harder)
2. Reconstitute the Chinese dried mushrooms by soaking in hot water for 20 - 30 minutes until softened. Drain and rinse.
3. Place the winter melon in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
4. Add the mushrooms, ginger and cooked ham. Add seasonings as desired. Simmer for about 20 minutes more or until the winter melon is translucent and tender. Add green onion and cilantro for garnish. Serve hot.


Sagari said...

soup looks soo clear and yummyyy

Mansi Desai said...

wow Minti, that surely is innovative:) must have tasted great:)

Minti said...

Thanks Sagari and Mansi...

KayKat said...

This is a great idea. We eat tons of what we always called "white pumpkin", but never in a clear soup like this!

Thanks for the recipe!

Anna said...

wow. the melon becomes so clear and white. it almost looksa like jelly.

thanks for joining WHB.

Anonymous said...

Looks really great Minti! So how come we didn't get to taste it :-)


Minti said...

Thanks folks!

Piriya - you were late to lunch - Everyone else did get to taste it:)

Archana said...

this looks absoutely different. Never heard of this vegetable with mushrooms and a soup. In south, we typically combine it with coconut and make many dishes out of this very healthy dish. Did you know, drinking the juice of this early in the morning is excellent for the stomach and its related ailments.
Find more Recipes at

Kalyn said...

Wow, very interesting post. I don't think I've seen or tasted winter melon. It sounds like a great combination of savory ingredients, and your soup photo looks delicious!

scribe said...

One of my neighbours gave me a winter melon a few weeks ago. I just used it to make your recipe -- very nice. Thank you for posting it. I used cloud ears (black fungus) and added some chopped apricots to contrast the salt.