As a middle-aged Chinese woman, I’ve picked up some useful do’s and don’ts throughout the years. One major DO I’ve learned is to have more nourishing soups in one’s diet this time of year. We all love autumn for its beautiful foliage and comfortable weather, but as temperatures drop, the chill in the air is palpable. These Chinese soup recipes quickly warm and nourish the body when it’s under duress in the cold.
Perhaps it’s the mom in me. Bill and I were watching TV after dinner this week, and I startled him by abruptly leaping off the couch with an urgent need to tell The Woks of Life community (and my own daughters) to cook more soup!
Below, you’ll find 15 satisfying Chinese soup recipes, along with the average cooking time for each, allowing you to choose a recipe according to the time you have to spend in the kitchen.
A handful of these recipes harken back to grandma’s kitchen––long simmering traditional soups full of nourishment. Others call for just a handful of ingredients and give you all the benefits without hours of cooking. I’ve put them in order by cooking time, from shortest to longest!
15 Nourishing Chinese Soup Recipes
1. Tomato Egg Drop Soup
Total time: 15 minutes
This has been a staple of weeknight family dinners for years. It’s a spin on everyone’s home-cooked favorite: Tomato and Egg Stir-fry, but in a feather-light soup. When you learn how to properly do an “egg drop,” the result is gossamer-like egg strands that go perfectly with tangy tomatoes and a simple chicken broth.
2. Chicken Corn Egg Drop Soup
Total time: 25 minutes
This is another easy and nutritious soup for fall. It’s a bit heartier than Tomato Egg Drop Soup, as Bill made this one with more of a Chinese takeout consistency. Use frozen corn for ease and chicken breast for extra protein.
3. Shepherd’s Purse Tofu Soup
Total time: 25 minutes
This is one of my favorites for when the weather turns cold, because it’s a great light soup to round out a full dinner table of other Chinese dishes. Made with flavorful Shepherd’s purse (a wild Chinese leafy green vegetable), it also has silky tofu and egg white to add body and texture. You can find Shepherd’s purse in the frozen section of your local Asian grocery store.
4. Easy Fish Tofu Soup
Total time: 35 minutes
This Chinese Fish Tofu Soup is something we often eat out at restaurants, but it’s easier than you think to get a rich-tasting fish broth at home—and with fillets, not a whole fish! It doesn’t get much better than that. You’ll be shocked at the rich flavor you can accomplish with this soup in just 35 minutes.
5. Chinese Rice Cake Soup
Total time: 45 minutes
Chinese Rice Cake Soup is one of our new favorites. Despite the shorter cooking time, and the simple add-ins of napa cabbage, carrots, scallions, and shredded pork, the result is a full-bodied soup that tastes like you simmered the stock all day. With vegetables, protein, and starch all in one, this soup is a full meal that warms the belly!
6. Chinese Winter Melon Soup with Meatballs
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
This hearty and warming soup is a little bit like an Italian Wedding Soup, with tender pork meatballs and nutritious winter melon—a healthy late summer and fall staple. With the addition of glass noodles, it makes for a light meal, but one that still manages to be hearty and satisfying.
7. Hot and Sour Soup
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
You may be surprised to know that it’s actually pretty easy to make this Chinese takeout classic at home! Our version is (and I say this as humbly as possible) one of the best we’ve tasted. It’s no wonder, since Bill’s family used to own a Chinese takeout restaurant! Full of spicy, warming white pepper, this soup is perfect for a cold weather dinner.
8. Chinese Chicken and Mushroom Soup
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
You do need to do some pre-work to prepare this recipe (soaking dried shiitake mushrooms for 6 hours or overnight), but once you’ve done that, this richly flavored soup comes together in just 90 minutes. With just 10 ingredients, you’ll have a delicious soup and juicy chicken that you can serve as a complete meal.
9. Simple Wonton Soup
Total time: 2 hours
There are few things more comforting than a hot bowl of wonton soup. You may be surprised to know that you only need 10 ingredients to cook up this tasty classic. It takes a couple hours from start to finish, but the best part is, you can freeze the wontons and have soup ready in minutes any time the mood strikes!
10. Shanghai Style Red Vegetable Soup (罗宋汤 – Luo Song Tang)
Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes
This classic recipe is a Chinese adaptation of a European beef and vegetable soup. Though it takes just over 2 hours to make, simmered oxtails create an incredibly flavorful broth. It is the ultimate comforting soup for chilly nights and another complete meal in one bowl.
11. Chinese Watercress Soup with Pork Ribs (Sai Yeung Choy Tong)
Total time: 3 hours 40 minutes
If you grew up in a Cantonese family, chances are you’ve had this soup at the dinner table before. This Hakka recipe only requires 6 ingredients. It’s beauty in simplicity at it’s finest.
12. Ching Po Leung Cantonese Herb Pork Bone Soup
Total time: 5 hours
Another Cantonese recipe, this is Bill’s favorite soup to have when it’s cold out. Rehydrated dried ingredients embody the essence of this soup, and many of those ingredients will require some searching at your local Chinese market. But the result is worth it!
13. Asian Vegetable Stock
Total time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Sometimes, a simple broth sipped from a mug can be just as warming and satisfying as soups that can be served as a full meal. And we know that our vegan and vegetarian readers will appreciate how simple it is to achieve the full-bodied flavors in this vegetable stock.
14. Lotus Root & Pork Soup
Total time: 7 hours
This lotus root and pork soup with give your Qi (energy) a boost! Healthy lotus root and goji berries come in a rich broth flavored with pork ribs or neck bones. While this recipe takes some time, it only requires 8 ingredients to make!
15. Simple Chinese Oxtail Soup
Total time: 7 hours 5 minutes
This Chinese oxtail soup is another long simmering recipe with few ingredients––6 ingredients, to be exact. It’s incredible what a pot of water can turn into by adding some oxtails, onions, and daikon radish! Our family makes this soup throughout the fall and winter!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of our favorite Chinese soup recipes, and they help nourish you and your family/friends through the fall season!