In Chinese food menu, soup recipes are always necessary and important. Chinese soup is smooth, easy to digest,easy to cook. So it exists both in daily home made meals and high level banquet.
Soup is regarded as important regimen diet in ancient China and current southern China. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, soup acts key important role in medicinal cusine diet.
Usually chinese soup has three forms, Tang, Geng and Zhou or porridge/congee. Tang is thin with fresh and salt taste. Geng is cooked by mixing cornstarch or wheat starch, which is smoother and thicker. Zhou contains rice, so some people call porridge rice soup. Geng and Zhou have flavor of sweet or salt.
People from southern China eat soup before each meal. They think soup nourish our stomach and spleen. While nothern people take soup as something helping to digest and remove grease. They eat soup during or after main dish.
From nutritionist"s point of view, eat a bowl of soup is good to our health. And the soup should be broth(fat skimmed) which is cooked more than 12 hours. Nutritionist think broth cooked more than 12 hours contains more protein and is easier to be absorbed by our body than meat itself.
Stock is used in most soup. Talking about stock, I think the Chinese cooking method is the same as that of westerners except the ingredients. Chinese chefs like to use ginger, garlic, scallion, chinese pepper and star anise. Actually, some chefs from south don"t use any ingredients in stock as they want to keep original material"s fresh taste. Chicken bone, pork bone, lamb bone or beef bone are also used to cook bone soup.
Popular soups are chicken soup, beef soup, fish soup, lamb soup, pork soup and bone soup. These are always be cooked to remove coldness in late autumn and winter. Such root and stalk vegetables as potatos, radish, pumpkin,lotus root,etc. are always added in these soups. Mushroom is also the important material in the soup,especially in chicken soup. White gourd, cabbage and chinese cabbage are always been found in these soups.
Corn is one of the welcomed stuff in Geng. Corn Geng is easy to find in a restaurant.
Tofu is always used in fish soup. Fish Tofu Soup improves nutrition"s absorption both in tofu and fish.
In spring and summer, egg drop soup,hot and sour soup, vegetable soup are very popular. Fresh vegetables such as cucumber, bamboo shoot, tomatos , spinach are added in. These soups taste light, some of which don"t use stock,just plain water and add some sesame oil at the end of cooking.
No matter what seasons and what materials you choose, cooking a comfortable bowl of soup depends on your experience and your own taste.