Category Archives: Recipes – Soup

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style 羅宋湯

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

The other night the topic of food trends came up at home. S and I talked about the food we had in our teenage years and shared with J, our fond memories of Hong Kong restaurants that were born out of the then-growing western influence in the 1980s. Their menus typically include pasta, pizza and grilled meats. Often, there will be set menus (which is still a very common thing to have on all restaurant menus) that goes typically like this:

1) choice of soup: soup of the day, creamy mushroom (“white” soup), tomato borscht type soup (“red” soup)

2) main of grilled meats (chicken thigh, pork chops and beef rump, or a mixture) with choice of pasta, potatoes/vegetables or rice. You also get to choose between a black peppercorn, belchamel or tomato sauce.

3) coffee or tea, and of course the “combination” drink yin yeung.

Sometimes you also get for dessert a small bowl of jelly or ice cream served in a tiny aluminium bowl.

This became in my mind, the iconic western meals in the 1980s to 1990s for the previous British colony. A step up from the cha chaan teng, which serves the more basic Hong Kong fare, like macaroni soup, pineapple buns and “stocking” milk tea.

For 99% of the time I will choose the borscht soup, which is an adapted version of the Russian Ukrainian tomato soup. It doesn’t normally have beets, and can have a variety of stable vegetables from any Hong Kong vege market. It’s the most popular soup in my childhood days, and is now J’s favourite soup.

My mum makes this with oxtail or beef shin. I’ve been able to source end-cuts of parma or prosciutto and prefers that now for the depth in flavour it adds to the soup (one time I didn’t use prosciutto and S and J both asked me about the lack of flavour. Seriously!) You can also use bacon or ham bones too.

This soup tastes better when cooked for longer. Cook on the stove for a few hours, in a crock pot, Instant Pot or a thermos, it will all work!

This quantity easily serves 5-6 people.


  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 small potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks (I sometimes leave out)
  • 1/2 cabbage, cut into large chunks
  • 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 50g tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp beef stock (I use Simon Gault’s)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 300g parma ham, end cut or substitute with other meats like beef shin, oxtail
  • 2 – 3 litres of water


  1. Lightly oil a hot pan, sautée the onions, carrots and celery. Transfer into a large soup pot (I use a Thermos pot, similar to a Crock Pot, except it has no heating function).
  2. Add potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and parma ham into the soup pot.
  3. Add enough boiling water to cover, about 2 litres, and bring it to a boil.
  4. Let it boil for 15 minutes and then turn it down to a simmer for 2 hours. If using a thermos cooker or Crock Pot, after the initial boiling, transfer that into the thermos/Crock Pot and let it continue to cook for a few hours. I often prepare this the night before and leave it to cook overnight.
  5. It’s ready when the cabbages and other vegetables are soft. Taste and add salt as required.

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Vietnamese Beef Pho (broth recipe)

Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

We are a pho-loving family. I don’t think there is ever a time we would reject one – hottest day of the year maybe, but it rarely gets extreme here in Auckland.

Pho is the best antidote to the coldness of a crisp Autumn night. Squeeze of lime, tears of vietnamese mint, rings of picked onions, fresh beef and slices of firey hot chillis. Pour in a good broth and devour. Yum yum 😋🍲🐂 Good for the body and soul!



  • 2 onions, halved
  • 6cm piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 1kg beef shin meat with bones
  • 4 litres of water
  • 1 spices package in mesh stock bag (2 cinnamon stick, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves)
  • 60ml light soy sauce
  • 60ml fish sauce
  • 1 small chunk of yellow rock sugar

To serve

  • 3 servings of rice noodles (dried or fresh)
  • Cooked beef from the broth (shredded or thinly sliced)
  • 500g skirt or topside beef, shaved thinly
  • big handful of each: mint, coriander, thai basil
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 red chilli, sliced
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha hot sauce

Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese


Charing: You can do this step either on the gas stove top or in the oven.

Place cut slices of ginger and onion halves on a wire rack and place on the stove or in the oven. Grill on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue until they sre nicely browned.

Parboil the bones: Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add beef shin and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, wash the blood and muck off the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with 4 litres of hot water and beef shin. Bring back to a boil then lower to a simmer. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.

Perfecting the broth: Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef and set aside (you can eat the meat later too.) Strain and return broth to the pot – now is the time for tasting and seasoning. If the broth’s flavor isn’t quite there yet, add 1 tablespoon more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small piece of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar). Keep doing this until the broth tastes just right.

Prepare noodles & meat: Slice your beef as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing. Shred the cooked shin meat and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. If they are fresh rice noodles, just blanch it for 1 minute.

Serving: You are ready to serve when your meat and noodles are in bowls and all other ingredients plated. Bring the broth back to a boil. Once boiling, pour hot broth into each bowl, cooking the raw beef slices in the process. Serve straight away. Everyone can style their bowls as they like.

Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

One pot ham and potato chowder soup

The weather had been quite flippant in the last few weeks and we find ourselves so looking forward to summer that we are wearing jandals already, looking longingly to the sky as if to say ‘I demand summer weather, NOW!’. Of course that had no results whatsoever and we resolve to having warm, hearty, comfort food once again.

What can be better than a good old mug of soup in a blustery cold afternoon? Why, a good ham and potato chowder soup with grilled garlic pizza bread for dunking of course!
This soup is made with a roux, but rather than using a separate pot to prepare it, I add it all into the pot and cook it at the same time. Less washing, more time to enjoy the food and company!

This makes enough for 6 servings, and I usually freeze half for later.


  • 6 slices of ham, cut into small square pieces
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced to 3/4 inch pieces
  • Small brown onion, diced
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of sweet corn kernels
  • 50g butter (about 4 tbsp)
  • 50g plain flour (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, boiling
  • milk, for creaminess and consistency adjustment (optional)


  1. In a large dutch oven pot cook ham until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for just 2 minutes. Let them cook till transclucent, but not browned. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot. Cook for another 2 minutes, moving the potatoes from time to time to make sure the surface caramalises a bit.
  3. Push the vegetables to the side of the pot so that you have the centre of the pot clear of food. Add the butter and flour in and stir vigourously. The flour needs to cook but you don’t want it to stick to the bottom of the pot. At least not so much that it browns. Cook for another minute to ensure the flour is completely cooked.
  4. Add the hot chicken stock a ladle at a time to the pot. Stir to mix before adding another ladle. You can add as much as you like to achieve the consistency to your liking.
  5. As the soup heats up it will thicken. Add the corn kernels, cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. For a creamier taste or consistency adjustment, you can add some milk in, to your liking.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with grilled pizza bread.
  7. Dunk and eat.

Quick and Easy Chicken Spaghetti Soup

It is a simple one pot dinner. I put everything in the pot, and while it cooks I can spend time with my family. My daughter can even help with tearing the meat. This is especially good for the cold winter when family members may be sick and need some simple hearty meals. You can turn it into a simpler, short-cut variation of this dish if you use chicken breast fillet rather than the whole chicken. However by keeping the chicken whole while cooking, moisture is retained and the chicken is a lot more succulent as a result.


2 litre chicken stock
1 litres water
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium onions, diced
6 black peppercorns
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 chicken breast fillet or 1 size 10 chicken or 3 chicken legs
1 packet of spaghetti


  1. Place the chicken stock and water in a large stockpot and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add everything except the spaghetti. Bring it back to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, skimming the surface of any foam. Cook for 40 minutes until the chicken is just done. If you are short in time and using chicken legs or chicken breast, simmer for 12 minutes only./li>;
  4. Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl of ice for it to cool. Skim and remove the peppercorns, garlic clove, parsley, thyme and bay leaf from the stock.
  5. Bring the stock back to a fast boil. Add in the spaghetti, and cook until the noodles are al dente (about 12 minutes).
  6. In the meantime, remove the skin from the chicken, and using your fingers, gently tear the meat off the bones. Set aside.
  7. Serve the chicken meat with the hot noodle soup.

Don’t forget to check out my earlier post for a chance to win $200 to spend at a camera shop!

Seafood Chowder

I learnt this easy seafood chowder from watching Masterchef Australia. Fleur Sullivan, the chef, is from NZ!

This seafood chowder is made with roux, a mixture of flour and butter. I’ve modified this recipe a bit to reduce the amount of butter to make it lighter. You can pretty much add any seafood in as you like, using any in season, fresh produce you can find locally. Choose a firm type of fish, like Hapuka, which is a grouper in NZ. You can also use little neck clams, scallops or mussels.

150g butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
150g plain flour
100ml white wine
140g tomato paste (equivalent to 1 tub of tomato paste)
2 litres seafood* or fish stock, warmed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
Celery stalk, 10cm piece
1 stalk fresh thyme
300g Harpuka or Basa, diced
20 prawns, shelled and deveined
2 squid tube, cleaned and scored, cut int strips

*The seafood stock is one I’ve made earlier with the heads of scampi heads boiled down with “the holy trinity” vege trio – onions, carrots and celery (Mirepoix in French). This vegetable mix is a very common starter for soups and stews. They are usually finely diced and then sautéed in oil or butter.


In a large heavy based saucepan melt butter and add diced vegetables. Sweat for a few minutes but do not allow to colour.

Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until mixture has a sandy texture.

Slowly pour in the wine and tomato paste and bring together as it thickens to remove all the lumps.

Add the warmed stock slowly, stirring continuously, and drop in the herbs and spices.

Allow the chowder to come to the boil, and stir to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add all the fish and shellfish and simmer until the shells begin to open and the fish is cooked through.

Serve with sourdough or ciabatta.