Lotus root soup is very popular among the Chinese. We believe it is nourishing and has a cooling effect. A typical version is made with either pork ribs/chicken, peanuts and red dates, a pretty simple concoction but results in an amazing taste. Among other variations that are just as delicious are those with the addition of root vegetables like carrots or kudzu root and legumes like black beans.
I had lotus root in my fridge the other day but i had ran out of both pork ribs/free range chicken so i thought it would be a good excuse to make a vegetarian version :) And i had something mischievous up my sleeve, i wanted to test if this meatless version would go by unnoticed by the men in my house who are meat lovers. Wondering how something so obvious would go by unnoticed? Surely the eyes would tell, you must be thinking but most of the time they would only drink the soup without eating any of the ingredients so I actually put very little of the ingredients in their soup bowls. Hence, it would be more of a taste test rather than a sight test in this case. I know chances are slim that it will go unnoticed but no harm trying and if it does or even if they like the taste of it could be the start to more meatless soups!
I decided to use a recipe from Amy Beh, a celebrity chef who is also a columnist who shares her recipes in one of our local dailies as a reference. Bean sticks were used as a substitute for meat protein. The Chinese herbs called for were very much similar to those used in a meat version but the addition of ginger and dried lily buds gave a slightly different flavor to the soup. Unlike in a typical version there were no peanuts in this one but i added a few walnuts to give it some nutty flavor and oil since walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Overall i find myself enjoying the soup but i must admit that i am a soup lady, i love almost any soup! The soup was very clear and had a refreshing taste with some heat coming from the ginger. There was quite some bite too with the addition of bean sticks and lily buds.
So, did it go by unnoticed? The answer is 'No', unfortunately :( My young man thought it tasted funny and wasn't as tasty. I presumed the 'funny' taste that he was referring to came from the bean sticks, ginger and lily buds while not as 'tasty' meant it didn't have the heavy taste from meat proteins. Experiment failed! Mum got busted..."I am not stupid, Mum!"
- 100g lotus root, skinned and cut into thick strips (300g)
- 25g yuk chuk, rinsed and soaked (replaced with 2 tbsp goji berry)
- 10 red dates
- 5g dong gwai (replaced with a 5 thin slices of American ginseng)
- 6 walnuts
- 2 pieces dried beancurd sticks, soaked till soft and cut into 4cm pieces (3 pieces)
- 10g ginger, shredded (3 thin slices from 1 inch knob)
- 15g dried lily buds, knotted, rinsed and soaked
- 2 litres water (3 litres)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp vegetarian seasoning powder (omitted)
- 1/8 tsp sugar or to taste (omitted)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil (omitted)
- Combine ingredients (A) and water in a deep pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. (40 minutes)
- Add ingredients (B) and boil for 5-6 minutes (10 minutes). Season to taste. Dish out and serve the soup hot.