What is bok choy soup?
Bok choy soup is a typical quick and easy soup for the Cantonese. It is prepared by boiling the bok choy in a broth with some meat, commonly pork slice.
My mom prepared it when I was a kid, a simple recipe that could be ready in fifteen minutes.
Since I live separately from my mom due to work, the bok choy soup has never been prepared anymore in my family, likely because there are so many new recipes that I would love to keep exploring. Recently I saw a bok choy soup recipe that popped up in my browser and connected immediately to that taste that I have not enjoyed for decades.
So here is why I decided to make it today, to recreate the taste that slowly faded off and in memory of my mom, who has recently gone back to where she came from.
Note: Bok Choy is also translated as Pak Choi, based on the Cantonese pronunciation of the word 白菜.
How to cook bok choy soup
Making soup with bok choy is pretty easy, as it requires only some simple ingredients. The Cantonese should be familiar with this bok choy recipe prepared with pork.
A. Wash and cut the bok choy
- Place the bok choy in a large container and wash it under running water by changing the water serval times. You can either use the baby bok choy as shown or the larger one.
- Soak the bok choy for half an hour if you have time to let any insecticide that might have been used on the bok choy dissolve into the water. This step is based on the advice given by the vegetable vendor at the market.
- Cut off the part near the stem, especially for the larger boi choy, so that you can wash and remove any dirt easily.
- Cut the bok choy lengthwise to half to review the beautiful layers. This step is optional, but I like to present it that way.
B. Other ingredients for the bok choy soup
- Lightly bashed two cloves of garlic.
- Get ready with a few slices of ginger. Both garlic and ginger will add an aromatic flavor to the soup.
- Get a piece of the pork, preferably tenderloin, and cut it into thin slices. We use tenderloin as it is tender, even slightly overcooked, and is healthier as it contains less fat.
- Marinate the pork with salt, cornstarch, and light soy sauce. Rub the seasoning into the meat and keep it aside for fifteen minutes or longer to let the meat absorb the flavor before adding it to the soup. Alternatively, you can substitute it with chicken thigh meat if you do not eat pork.
C. Boil the bok choy
- Bring a pot of water, about one liter, to a boil in a soup pot.
- Add a cup of store-bought chicken broth to enhance the flavor. Alternatively, you can use the homemade chicken broth as th soup base if you have it ready.
- When it comes to a boil again, throw in one or two cloves of garlic and a few slices of ginger to season the soup.
- Next, add the bok choy, and wait until it returns to a boil.
- Simmer the baby bok choy over medium heat for two to three minutes.
- Now add the marinated pork slices, give a good stir to ensure they do not stick together, and continue boiling for one minute.
- Do a taste test to check if you need more salt. Next, drizzle a few drops of sesame oil into the soup. My mom would omit it to keep things simple. Transfer to a soup bowl to serve.
The soup is ready. It is so easy to make, rich in nutrition from the vegetables, with some fiber and protein, and warms the heart of everyone in the family. It is best to serve it with steamed rice.
Tips to make better Bok Choy soup
- I like to use baby bok choy because these vegetables are more tender than the large bok choy. It also takes less time to cook.
- There is no need to add soy sauce to the soup while cooking because it will make the soup taste slightly sour. However, adding a few drops of light soy sauce to the soup while serving helps improve the soup’s flavor.
- The white part of the large bok choy has more fiber, which must cook longer to become tender. In this case, separate the stalks from the bok choy leaves, and simmer the stalks for two to three minutes before adding the leaves. You do not need to do that for the baby bok choy because they are very tender.
Common questions about Bok Choy
Can I use the bok choy soup to make soup noodles?
It is nice to use it to make Chinese noodle soup, especially with the bok choy soup prepared with meat. Wanton noodles, ramen noodles, and rice noodles are all suitable. You need to add some extra salt or drizzle more light soy sauce before serving the noodles.
What is the best soup base for bok choy soup?
I only use water and chicken broth in the recipe. You can use vegetable broth if you want to make a vegetarian version by omitting the meat. Chicken breast meat or thigh meat is also ideal as a substitute for anyone who does not eat pork.
Can I use other vegetables instead of bok choy?
Choy sum and Chinese cabbage are suitable substitutes for bok choy. These vegetables should be available at your favorite Asian market.
Other variations you want to consider:
This recipe is loosely based on my memory of how my mother prepared it for our family during my childhood. Here are some suggestions if you want to give it your spin.
- Try to include items like dried shiitake mushrooms, red pepper flakes, and zha cai (a type of preserved vegetable). Zha cai has a strong umami flavor, an ideal flavor booster for vegetarian dishes.
- Some non-Cantonese variants include star anise and sprinkle some green onions and sesame seeds as garnish, but I will stick to my time-tested recipe.
- The only rule is to make a clear broth, not the creamy types which deviate too far from any Chinese soup, in my opinion.
- You can also explore using chicken bones to make a chicken soup before adding the bok choy. Pork bone is another common alternative for the soup base.
More Bok Choy recipes
If you like this bok choy soup recipes, here are more Asian recipes for you to try:
- This bok choy stir fry might be downright simple for some people. However, it is deceptively tricky to recreate to taste like those from the restaurant. This bok choy stir fry recipe will address all the nitty-gritty.
- ABC soup is a heartwarming Cantonese soup. It is quick and easy to prepare, as the name implies. It is rich in vitamins from carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. I think most Cantonese family should have their spin while preparing it, and this is my family recipe.
Bok choy soup with pork
Bok choy soup is a typical quick and easy soup for the Cantonese. It is prepared by boiling the bok choy in a broth with some meat, commonly pork slices.
- 500g baby bok choy
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 5 cups water
- 3 slices of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp of oil
- 1 tsp of salt
Ingredients B (for marinating the pork)
- 120g pork tenderloin
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Wash the bok choy under running water serval times. Soak the bok choy for half an hour to remove any insecticide that might have been used on the bok choy.
- Cut the bok choy lengthwise to half to review the beautiful layers.
- Lightly bashed two cloves of garlic and get ready with a few slices of ginger.
- Cut the pork into thin slices. Marinate with ingredients B for fifteen minutes.
- Bring the water and chicken broth to a boil in a soup pot.
- Throw in the garlic and ginger and the bok choy, and wait until it returns to a boil.
- Simmer over medium heat for two to three minutes.
- Add the marinated pork slices, and continue boiling for one minute.
- Transfer to a soup bowl to serve.
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Kitchen Basics No Salt Chicken Stock, 8.25 oz (Pack of 12)
ExcelSteel 242 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander
EXTRA LARGE Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove - Kitchen Chopping Board for Meat (Butcher Block) Cheese and Vegetables | Anti Microbial Heavy Duty Serving Tray w/Handles - 18 x 12"
Cooks Standard 02520 Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stockpot with Lid, 12-QT, Silver
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 149Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 1808mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 15g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 14/5/2022
Friday 10th of February 2023
I have been making a version of this for years! I braise 6 lbs or so of baby bok choy with some pork tenderloin, a lot of garlic, salt, and pepper in water in a clay pot in a slow oven. The pork sits on top of the vegetable and the fat renders into them, and the slow braising creates a rich broth. I had no idea I was sort of recreating an existing recipe! I agree - extremely delicious.
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
@REP, what temperature and for how long. I like this method.
Friday 20th of May 2022
Don't you post videos anymore?
Monday 23rd of May 2022
Yes. The video is inserted within the article. If in any instances that it does not appear, you can view the video on the Youtube channel. Link to youtube recipe: https://youtu.be/PRZeAhGO7yg
Wednesday 18th of May 2022
In the paragraph titled: What is the best soup base for bok choy soup?, you mention: "make a vegetarian version by vomiting the meat". I think you mean "omitting the meat". I don't think you want your readers to vomit the meat.
Friday 20th of May 2022
Thank you, Robert. What a hilarious (and silly) mistake I made. I have corrected it right away :)
Monday 16th of May 2022
Sounds both simple to make and delicious to eat. Many thanks! Want to try with shrimp, as well. Perhaps even include noodles. But the simple version (with marinated pork) sounds like the best. Again, thank you.
Sunday 15th of May 2022
Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am glad to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.