A Chinese soup is an important part of the Chinese cuisine. A perfectly made soup is smooth and easily digestible. Soups are an important part of the food and culture of China and have been prepared since the ancient times. There is a large variety of soups in China and in addition to those served in commercial establishments, there are household recipes which families hand-down from generation to generation.
Some historians strongly believe that soups are essentially a Chinese invention. There are over a hundred different types of soups in the Chinese cuisine.
Chinese soups usually have 3 forms - Zhou, Tang and Geng. While Tang is thin and has a fresh, savory flavor, Geng is smoother and thicket owing to the presence of cornstarch. Zhou has rice as the main ingredient. All the soups of the Chinese cuisine are a variation of one of these types. Geng and Zhuo are sweet.
Chinese Soup Recipes: Common Ingredients Used
With so many different varieties, a Chinese soup can be made with almost all the ingredients available. Vegetables, meats, fruits, dumplings, chilies, salt, pepper and stock are some of the most commonly used ingredients. Based on personal preferences and tastes, the soup can be made with almost anything. The Chinese believe that the secret to a good soup is using the perfect stock and therefore, home-made stock is preferred over store-brought one.
Chinese Soup Recipes: Preparation Overview
Chinese soups are made with a lot of herbs, spices and flavors. The ingredients used are extensive and therefore, preparation methods and cooking time greatly depend on the recipe being followed. Some soups are more elaborate and complex than others. Cooking times can range from a few minutes to several hours. The method of cooking is, however, almost always the same - cooking over a heat source. While traditionalists insist on slow cooking the soups, modern-day chefs prefer to speed things up with electric cookers and hot plates.
The ingredients are all prepared as required and then mixed and cooked. Once the soup and its ingredients reach the desired level of doneness, the preparation is seasoned. Chinese sauces and pastes can be added during the cooking process, after the Chinese soup has cooked or right before consumption.
Serving and Eating Chinese Soups
In ancient China, soups were served in specialized serving bowls, with chopsticks and spoons on the side. On special occasions and during celebrations, soups are still served in fine China bowls. On an everyday basis, however, the preparation is ladled into ceramic bowls and served hot. The soups are eaten almost always with chopsticks.
A Chinese soup is not served as an appetizer, as is normal in the Western culture. In Asia, soups are always a part of the main course. In addition, these can also be consumed as a snack.
Chinese Soups: Trivia
A Chinese soup is eaten with chopsticks and making a loud slurping noise while eating is not considered rude. In fact, it is encouraged.