I’ve never really had “home-cooked” soup at home as a kid. Coming from a Teochew family, soup isn’t quite a main cast on our dining table. When Ah-mm was younger, she used to cook soups, but delicious as they can be, her Salted Vegetable Soup, ABC Soup and Napa Cabbage Soup aren’t the kind of “Traditional Soup” that my Cantonese friends are used to having at home. I’ve never felt “deprived” or anything (I probably ate better than most people growing up- the obesity was a tell-tale sign), but I do love soup.
And now, as age is catching up, Ah-mm makes a lot of fish ball soup and omelette soup flavoured with nothing but oyster sauce, soy sauce and some pepper because soups like these take a snap of a finger to prepare. Ok, maybe for her, a few fingers, but you get the idea. One of my friends calls these 水煮汤, and she is right. Although quick soups can be an easy lunch, nutritional value is quite negligible unless you’re talking about my Vegetable Soup which is loaded with lots of fresh vegetables which make up the colours of the rainbow.
I definitely am no soup expert, and pompous people (sorry) might scoff at my recipes of slow cooker soups. All I know is, I love the soup that I cook in my Takahi slow cooker (erm 堤防假冒/ beware of imitation). I just need to bring everything to boil and then transfer the ceramic inner pot back to the outer casing, turn on “Auto-shift”, and delicious soup flavoured by natural ingredients (mostly) is ready in a few hours.
When cooking soup, I always add honey dates. It is honey dates that gives soup its savoury flavour. Since discovering it two years ago, it has been a staple in my kitchen. I absolutely cannot do without it. I get mine in larger packets mostly from Chinese medical halls, or you can get them at NTUC under the dried good section.
In the recipe today, I also added Chinese “Nan Bei Xing Ren”/ 南北杏仁 (southern and northern almonds, a.k.a apricot kernels), which aid in removing cough and sore-throat, and add a distinctive, perfumed flavour to the final soup. Southern almonds (南杏仁) are also termed “Sweet Almonds” and Northern almonds (北杏仁) are “Bitter Almonds”. The ratio of Southern to Northern almonds should be 8:1, and Northern almonds should always be used sparingly. You can read more about 南北杏仁 here and here.