November 27, 2014

Winter Melon Pork Bone Soup 冬瓜豬骨湯

Winter Melon, Pork, Bone, bone broth, Soup, recipe, chinese,  冬瓜, 豬骨, 湯

For the Cantonese, drinking soup is like drinking from the fountain of life.  Since I've been in Hong Kong, I've caught the soup bug too, and why not, Chinese soups are soooo delicious!  Once I got used to having soups like these, I now find that I long for them, feeling like a wrung out rag when I don't get enough of these luscious liquids into my tummy.  

Lately we've been super happy cooking with our latest yummilicious discovery for making soup: using pork bones!  (I know, I know...everyone knows that already, right?!)  But do you seriously realize just how good of a soup you can make at home with just a bit of pork bones?  It is so good that it's sinful!  

It's a soup so sweetly savoury that it'll knock your socks right off!  Try out our Winter Melon Pork Bone Soup 冬瓜豬骨湯 recipe (with our secret for intensifying flavor) and see if you're still wearing socks after your first luscious sip!

Winter Melon, Pork, Bone, bone broth, Soup, recipe, chinese,  冬瓜, 豬骨, 湯

The other main ingredient for this Winter Melon Pork Bone Soup is winter melon, of course, also known as 冬瓜.  This melon grows up to the size of a large watermelon and is covered with a powdery white coating when mature.  (Like snow!)  At the markets you can ask for however much you want and they will slice off a nice piece of the melon for you. 

 While I know that the winter melon should have a white coating, I have only rarely seen it with that coating.  The skins of the melons I see in the wet market are usually just a dark shiny green.

When cooked tender the winter melon becomes oh-so-delightfully-soft and velvety, absorbing all the liquids and flavors around it.  That's why this vegetable is a favorite for making soup.  I love winter melon!

Winter Melon, Pork, Bone, bone broth, Soup, recipe, chinese,  冬瓜, 豬骨, 湯

When buying pork bones, look for fresh bones with a lot of cartilage and a bit of meat still left on them.  The cartilage will slowly melt down with the long cooking and give your soup just a bit of lovely thickness.  The meat on the bones will cook until falling off the bone and are, hands down, my favorite way to eat pork ever!  

Just grab that bit of meat and soft gelatinous cartilage with your chopsticks, dip lightly in a bowl of good soy sauce and pop it in your mouth.  Yummilicious!

Winter Melon, Pork, Bone, bone broth, Soup, recipe, chinese,  冬瓜, 豬骨, 湯

Our secret for intensifying the bone broth flavor:  I always hear folks say that you have to parboil bones and then dump out the water with all the bits that rise up to the surface.  I think the scummy bits that rise are just cooked blood from the bones.  

Well one fine soup making day we parboiled the bones and then were just about to dump out the parboiling liquid out when...well, we just couldn't do it.  The broth smelled just so fine and we could see and taste that a lot of lovely porky flavor had already dispersed from the bone to the broth. could we keep all the lovely flavor but get rid of the scum?  Easy peasy, just strain the parboiling broth a couple of times through a big fine meshed strainer until the broth is clear and then continue on with it to make your soup.  Well, what do you know, that little easy extra step was the secret to the sauce!  

This little trick boosted the flavor of our Winter Melon Pork Bone Soup high up to the skies!  Try it and let us know what you think of our secret trick for intensifying pork bone broth flavor!

Winter Melon, Pork, Bone, bone broth, Soup, recipe, chinese,  冬瓜, 豬骨, 湯
The cooked bones removed from the soup

Lastly the other reason we're so excited about pork bone soup besides the fact that it's drop dead delicious is that drinking bone broth is the natural way of absorbing calcium (teeth and bone health) and collagen (beautiful skin!).  My little girl can't eat too much dairy products (it makes her eczema flair up) and so we've been looking into other ways for her to obtain the calcium that a growing kid needs.  What better way to do that than to drink delicious sweetly savory Winter Melon and Pork Bone Soup!  
Winter Melon Pork Bone Soup Recipe
(Prep time: 3 mins  Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins)


  • 4-5 big pork bones
  • 3 liters water
  • 3 half inch thick knobs ginger
  • 1 1/2" thick sliced round of winter melon
  • 10 straw mushrooms
  • 15 dried shrimp
  • salt to taste


Boil the water in large pot.  Rinse bones and then drop bones in boiling water.  Boil vigorously for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove bones to plate and strain stock a few times until quite clear.  Put bones, ginger and stock back in pot and boil vigorously another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile slice of the rind of melon, remove center pulp and seeds and slice into 1/2" thick slices.  Rinse dried shrimp.  Wash straw mushrooms and slice into 1/8" thick slices.

Skim any foam off the top of soup.  Add melons, mushrooms, and dried shrimp to soup.  When soup boils, turn heat to medium low and cook covered for 1 hour, topping up with a bowl or two of boiling water if necessary.  When time is up add salt to taste.  Remove bones to a plate.  Skim any foam from top once more before pouring in soup dish.

Serve soup and bones hot with a dipping dish of soy sauce for the meat off the bones.



  1. Is there a good substitute for the straw mushrooms?

    1. You could substitute with shitake mushrooms, dried or fresh. Just remember to dehydrate dried shitake mushrooms by soaking them in warm water until soft enough to slice. ~ellen

  2. Would chicken or beef bone do or would it change the flavor taht may be distinctly a "winter melon soup" ?

    1. Hey Lynn - I think that chicken would be okay but maybe not beef. ~ellen

  3. This means 64% of the animal is used for meat.

  4. Ummm...not sure what that means ?