Recipe: Chinese ABC Soup

In my increasingly limited spare time, I find myself wondering: who first made ABC soup, and why the heck did they call it the ABC soup??

A typical Chinese ABC soup contains meat (either pork or chicken), onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. The recipe is flexible so you can add an assortment of ‘related’ goodies – sweetcorn, dried scallops, dried oysters, red dates, goji berries, Chinese (napa) cabbage, meatballs etc. All these extra ingredients are to encourage the natural sweetening and flavouring of the soup.

So where’s the A, B and C?

On the Internet, some people claim that it’s called ABC soup due to vitamins A, B and C from the vegetables. Others say because it’s easy to make, as easy as ABC.

So no one knows. Fine, I guess it doesn’t really matter, so long we can keep making and enjoying this light, nutritious deliciousness. I also need to think about other things in my spare time.

By the way the first vitamin was discovered in the year 1910. This means vitamins aren’t part of traditional Chinese medicinal and healing concepts. Okay I’ll stop now!!

Indeed, the Chinese ABC soup is ridiculously easy to make. So long you have the ingredients, a stove and 3 hours to spare, you are in for a treat!

Chinese ABC Soup
Chinese ABC soup with a lot of ingredients, because I can.

Here’s how you do it the extravagant, Suanie-way in the following order:

Core Stuff:
– 3 litres water
– 300-400g pork/chicken bones/meat
– 6-8 dried red dates
– 6-8 dried scallops
– 6-8 dried oysters

Blanch bone/meat in boiling water to remove scum. Remove, and place in 3 litre water along with the optional ingredients. Let boil then simmer for 30 minutes.

Main Vege:
– 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rough chunks
– 1 potato (Russet), peeled and cut to chunks
– 2 tomatoes, quartered
– 1 large onion, quartered
– 1 sweet corn, cut to chunks
– 1/2 of a whole garlic bulb
– some whole white peppercorn
– a handful of goji berries, mmmm

Dump into pot and let simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Secret Kicks:
– Some Chinese napa cabage, cut to chunks
– Fuzhou meatballs, yummmmm!

Put in Chinese napa cabbage in the final 30 minutes, and the meatballs in the final 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste, but we don’t usually do that as the soup is so flavourful by now.

This recipe serves 4 – 6 people. If you’ve made too much ABC soup and are bored by it, try this trick that my grandmother taught me:

Blended Chinese ABC Soup
Blended Chinese ABC Soup

Remove all meats. Don’t want them by now. Strip corn from cob (if there are any left), and together with the rest of the remaining vegetables and soup, BLEND!

… in a blender lah, of course…

Then add salt and black pepper, and you have Chinese ABC Soup with a twist!


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