Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup (素羹湯)

Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup (素羹湯)
Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup (素羹湯)

I had leftover napa cabbage and bean sprout (from Shanghai Style Stir-Fried Rice Cake) in the fridge, and I wanted to make a hot soup to go with the Sichuan Cold Noodle. Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup was the result. Traditionally thick soup is made with pork or/and squid wrapped in fish paste. This vegetarian/vegan version is easy… just leave out the meat.

White Pepper | Dried Shitake Mushroom | Potato Starch
White Pepper | Dried Shitake Mushroom | Potato Starch

One of the very important Asian ingredients in this recipe is black vinegar (which I already talked about in the Sichuan Cold Noodle post). The other Asian ingredients are:

1. White Pepper (白胡椒粉)

White pepper tastes different than black pepper. It actually doesn’t taste as peppery as black pepper, but it adds heat. Think of Chinese hot and sour soup. The “hot” in the soup comes from white pepper. You can substitute with black pepper of course, but the flavor of the soup will be slightly different.

2. Shitake Mushroom (香菇)

Shitake mushroom is very common in Asian recipe. The mushroom has an earthy and woody taste. You can use fresh shitake mushroom. Most Asian households always have dried shitake mushroom in their pantry. I bought my dry shitake mushroom slices at Costco. They store well. I just have to soak them in hot water for 10 minutes, and they are ready to be added to any dish.

3. Potato Starch (太白粉)

Starch is widely used in Asian recipe to thicken sauces or soups. The starch we find in Asian markets are usually made of potato. But you can also use corn starch.

Ready to cook?

Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup (素羹湯)

10 cups water
1 cup dried shitake mushroom slices (or fresh shitake mushroom)
1/2 head napa cabbage, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup julienned bamboo shoot (from a can)
2 cups bean sprout
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons black vinegar
White pepper (can be substitute with black pepper)
3 tablespoons potato starch (or corn starch)
6 tablespoons water

Heat up 2 cups of water. When it boils, turn off the heat. Soak dried shitake mushroom in water for 10 minutes. (Omit this step if you use fresh shitake mushroom.)

Add 8 cups of water to a big pot. Add shitake mushroom and its soaking water to the pot. Heat the water until it boils.

Add cabbage, carrot and bamboo shoot. Cook until cabbage becomes soft, about 10 minutes.

Add bean sprout and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add soy sauce and black vinegar. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons potato starch (or corn starch) with 6 tablespoons water. Make sure all starch is dissolved.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Slowly add the starch water to the soup. The soup will thicken. If you would like to thicken the soup, just add more starch water. Remember the ration of starch to water is 1:2. Add a handful of cilantro.

Pour the soup into a bowl. You can add more cilantro and white pepper if you like. You can even add noodle or vermicelli to the soup to make it into a bowl of noodle soup.



23 thoughts on “Taiwanese Vegetable Thick Soup (素羹湯)

  1. My husband made this soup tonight. We both gave it an A. We had never really had a thought one way or another about bamboo shoots, but man they are stinky! DH bought a can of whole pieces. Almost so hard to get past the smell, we might even omit them the next time around.

    1. That’s too bad about the bamboo shoots. I bought bamboo shoots in a can that stink really bad before, too. There are several brands of bamboo shoots that I just can’t stand the smell. The brand I used is called “Asian Taste”. The bamboo shoots come in water. It only has a very very mild bamboo smell to it. I like to add bamboo to soup because it gives it a crunchy texture (bean sprouts can do the same). If you happen to get a can with stinky bamboo shoots, maybe try boiling them in water first to get rid of the smell. But of course you can omit anything you don’t like, and add any veggies that you like to the soup. Thank you so much for trying my recipe. 😀

  2. I am really enjoying your blog! 🙂 I’ve been skimming through it, and I cannot wait to try the recipes you’ve posted. They look delicious! I may end up cheating on my juice fast just to try a few! =D

  3. Reblogged this on 30 Days of Juicing and commented:
    I grew up on a solid Southern USA diet, where nearly all the meat was batter fried. Funny how I ended up working in a Chinese restaurant as a first job, and I’ve been hooked ever since on hot sour soup, spring rolls, wontons, pork fried rice, and moo goo gai pan (chicken and mushrooms). Forget those sugar-coated fried biscuits…Those are strictly an American thing. lol

    One of my visitors this evening writes about Asian food. OMGosh! I think I am in love – with the food peeps, with the food! It is Taiwanese, which is the Asian food I learned to cook so many yeaers ago, and I stuck with my favorites. 🙂 Healthy soups, plenty of vegetables, and spicy — I love spicy dishes, and I am totally digging into the recipes provided here once my fast is over…or maybe sooner. They sure look delicious! 🙂

  4. Canned bamboo shoots tend to be stinky, because it ferments in the can. If you can get fresh bamboo shoots (you’ll have to peel it, and boil it yourself), or the cooked fresh bamboo shoots (in Japanese grocery stores), they DON’T have the stink. Try that next time, and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

    Bamboo shoots are pure fiber and crunch. Very healthy for your diet 🙂

    1. I will look for fresh ones. I assume our local Asian market will have them as they have EVERYTHING. A co-worker also suggested I try the ones in a jar. I can hardly wait to try some non-stinky bamboo shoots.

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