Thai Winter Melon Soup with Baby Pork Ribs is a delicious and comforting dish that can be enjoyed all year round. With its flavorful green broth, tender winter melon, and meaty pork ribs, it's a satisfying meal in itself.
For more healthy Thai soups, try these tasty recipes, Thai stuffed bitter melon soups, Thai glass noodle soup-Gaeng Jeud, vegetarian Tom Kha soup, Kabocha squash soup, Gaeng Som-Thai curry sour soup and creamy Tom Yum soup with shrimp.
Winter melon soup is a popular dish in various Asian cuisines. Each country, such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China, has its unique version with different flavors and ingredients.
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What is Winter Melon
- Thai vs Chinese Winter Melon Soup
- Ingredients for Winter Melon Soup Recipe
- How to Make Thai Winter Melon Soup
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- What to Serve With Winter Melon Soup
- Variations and Substitutes
- Storing Leftovers
- Frequently Asked Questions:
- More Tasty Recipes You'll Love
- Thai Winter Melon Soup with Baby Pork Ribs
- More Thai Soup Recipes
- Pairing Your Winter Melon Soup
The soup is known for its light and refreshing taste, making it popular during hot summer as well at the winter months! Winter melon soup is also believed to have various health benefits, including improving digestion and promoting hydration.
However, the one common factor among all these variations is the use of winter melon. My Thai winter melon soup version is a family recipe, and it's a perfectly comforting soup when the weather gets a little cooler in Thailand (October-December).
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's a comforting dish to serve at any time of year.
- This winter, melon soup is healthy. The winter melon is full of healthy benefits that keep the body healthy.
- It's a tasty soup full of flavors! From the use of Thai aromatics and herbs. The baby pork ribs then simmer for a long time. The bones release their natural collagen and its umami flavors into the broth.
- This Thai winter melon soup is not spicy! Instead, it offers a mild, sweet taste, making it a perfect soup for the summer, rainy days, and winter!
- Protein options for the soup are customizable. If you don't want to use pork bones, make a winter melon meatball soup instead. Swap out pork ribs and roll ground meat into balls instead.
What is Winter Melon
Winter melon, or white gourd, is commonly found in early winter. It is shaped like a large zucchini, with its skin smooth and bright green. When you cut open a whole winter melon, you will find a firm white texture with a soft pith and small seeds, much like a zucchini or cucumber.
The taste of winter melon is mild. It has a subtle sweetness and a slightly earthy flavor. It looks and tastes similar to cucumbers. In Asian cuisines, they are popular in soups and stir-fries due to their versatile nature and ability to absorb other flavors.
So, if you come across a winter melon at your Asian grocery store, try it and make this tasty soup with it!
Thai vs Chinese Winter Melon Soup
Thai winter melon soup is a flavorful combination of tender baby back ribs, fragrant herbs, and a savory bouillon broth. The meaty ribs add a rich depth of flavor, while the herbs infuse the soup with their aromatic essence. This Thai version of winter melon soup is a delicious and hearty dish that will warm you up on a chilly day.
Chinese winter melon soup (Dong Gua Tang) is a traditional soup made with winter melon, a type of gourd. It is often cooked with other ingredients, such as pork, mushrooms, and dried shrimp.
This perfect dish combines the essence of the Chinese winter melon soup recipe and the delicate flavors of Thai cuisine, creating a culinary masterpiece that will captivate your tastebuds.
Ingredients for Winter Melon Soup Recipe
- Garlic, cilantro stems, and white pepper will be used to create a paste that is the broth seasoning for the soup. Cilantro roots are typically used in Thailand. If you can find cilantro roots, use 3 pieces for this recipe. Otherwise, use the largest and lowest parts of the stems instead.
- Asian Winter Melon (Ash Gourd): Look for bright green skin melons at your Asian markets. They are available from late summer through early Spring. They are also called white melon or ash guard. For older melons, peel off the skin; for tender-skinned ones, leave it on for an extra layer of flavor.
- Carrots. Use thinly sliced carrots to add to the soup for extra flavors and vegetables.
- Baby Back Ribs. Pork or beef spare ribs work great for this recipe. My Thai family used whole chicken with bones and chopped it into smaller pieces for the soup. Pro tip: Have your butcher cut for cleaner, hassle-free preparation.
- Pork bouillon. Find these pork bouillon at your local Asian grocery store.
- Broth or water. The broth will yield more flavors. Use no salt or low-salt broth. Water is fine, too, but you must adjust the salt, fish sauce, and soy sauce to balance the flavors you need.
- Fish sauce. Add the umami flavors to your soup. Learn more about different Thai sauces here.
- Soy sauce. It adds a touch of saltiness that helps bring all the flavors together. Any soy sauce is fine.
- Green onion. For adding flavors to the soup. Learn more about Thai herbs with this article here.
- Garnishes: Cilantro leaves, Sliced green onion, ground white pepper.
How to Make Thai Winter Melon Soup
- Make the seasoning paste. To make this soup, start by pounding garlic, cilantro stems, and salt together to make a paste. Set it aside for later.
2. Prepping the melons. Next, peel and cut the winter melon into chunks. Clean and cut the baby's back ribs into smaller pieces.
3. Make the broth. Add pork bouillon, water, salt, and the seasoning paste to a large soup pot. Bring the 8 cups of cold water to a gentle simmer.
4. Cook the ribs. Put the baby's back ribs into the boiling water. Add fish sauce and soy sauce, and let the soup simmer over medium heat so that the flavors can mix.
5. Add the vegetables. Once the ribs are tender, add winter melon, carrots, and green onion, and allow the vegetables to absorb the flavors.
6. Season to taste and serve. Add cilantro and adjust the flavors with more fish sauce and soy sauce as needed. Turn the heat off, serve this delicious soup in bowls, and enjoy the blend of flavors. Thai Jasmine is perfect for serving alongside the soup for added heartiness and taste!
Garnishing your Thai soup with fresh cilantro leaves, chopped green onions, and an additional sprinkle of ground white pepper for that perfect finishing touch.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Feel free to leave the melon skin on for added texture, especially with younger melons. The bigger melons have tough skin that you must peel off.
- Older melons will have larger and tougher seeds as well. If those are all you can find, scoop out the seeds and the fibrous pith and use only the winter melon flesh. Slice them into larger chunks, as the pieces will shrink some in the soup.
- Look for pre-cut baby back ribs for a convenient and tidy cooking process. I asked the butcher at my grocery store (Safeway) to cut the pork into smaller pieces. (3 inch pieces)
- Adjust fish sauce, soy sauce, and white pepper to tailor the flavors to your liking.
- White pepper is spicier than black pepper. Adjust as needed according to your preference for an extra kick.
What to Serve With Winter Melon Soup
Pair this Thai Winter Melon Soup with steamed jasmine rice or soaked glass noodles for a wholesome and fulfilling meal.
Variations and Substitutes
- Use ground meat and roll it into meatballs instead of ribs if you prefer not to have pork bones in your soup.
- Mushrooms are a good addition to the soup. Use portobello, wood ears, or shiitake mushrooms if preferred.
- Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator, allowing the flavors to deepen and intensify for a delightful next-day meal.
- You can freeze the soup for up to 2 months. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before storing it in a glass container.
Frequently Asked Questions:
While winter melon is the star, you can experiment with variations like fuzzy melon or wax gourd for unique flavor profiles.
Absolutely! Its rich flavors and symbolic ingredients make it a perfect addition to festive celebrations.
Freezing may alter the texture of the melon, but the flavors will remain intact. Reheat gently for a taste of winter warmth.
Winter melon is considered a "yin food" in traditional Chinese medicine, believed to cool the body and balance energies.
Choose melons that are firm and free of any soft spots or blemishes. Opt for younger, smaller winter melons, which tend to be more crunchy and tender when cooked. Older and larger melons may have tough skin and fibrous flesh, so it's best to peel them before cooking.
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- Jaeng Jeud is a clear glass noodle soup with pork, meatballs, and tofu.
- Vegetarian Tom Kha soup
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Pairing Your Winter Melon Soup
These are my favorite appetizers to serve on the side with soups.