Cantonese Herb Pork Bone Soup广东猪骨例汤guǎng dōng zhū gǔ lì tāng


This hearty and nutritious soup will surely help keep you warm during the cold winter months. The meaty pork bones are so fragrant and delicious after hours of simmering. I always put extra in the soup and eat them with soy sauce on the side. Like any slow-cooked food, the soup tastes better on the second or third day. So feel free to make a large quantity if you wish.

As you’ll see from the ingredients list, the rehydrated dried ingredients embody the essence of this soup. It’s worth mentioning that we prefer to only enjoy the soup stock while discard those rehrydrated dried ingredients after hours of cooking. The dried ingredients may sound daunting. If so, then look for the pre-packaged Cantonese Soup herb mix at your local Chinese grocery store. It’s definitely easier having everything in one package for your soup. That said, any pre-packaged soup mix varies in its ingredients so don’t be surprised if pre-packaged soups like the one pictured below are missing or have extra ingredients. You still will be able to achieve the same results.

The defining characteristic of Cantonese soup is its clarity. The soup might look clear, but it’s packed with flavours. To achieve this, the soup must be simmered low and slow throughout the cooking process. Too much boiling produces a cloudy soup.

Salt must be added right before serving. The key is to use less salt than normal, especially during the cooking process, in order to taste the sweetness of the soup itself.

Cantonese people like to add dried seafood, because it adds a lot of umami flavor to the soup, but it’s of course optional.

Serve 3-4

  • 750g           pork bones (try to find bones with more meat on them)
  • 4 slices       fresh ginger, cut ⅛-inch thick, 生姜
  • 30grams     dried Chinese yam (huái shān, 淮山or shān yào, 山药)
  • 25 grams    dried lotus seeds(lián zǐ, 莲子)
  • 10 grams    dried goji berries(gōu qǐ, 枸杞)
  • 15 grams     polygonatum odoratum(not sure if there’s a better English translation for this!) (yù zhú, 玉竹)
  • 10 grams    dried longan (guì yuán ròu, 桂圆肉)
  • 1 big dried honey dates (mì zǎo, 蜜枣)
  • 1 large piece of dried seafood, such as dried squid, dried abalone,and/or dried scallop (optional)
  • 2500 ml        cold water
  • Salt, to tasteIMG_5877


  1. Soak the pork bones in cold water for an hour. Rinse thoroughly and drain. The soaking process helps to get rid of any impurities or blood, to keep the soup clear.
  2. In a large stock pot, add the pork bones, and fill with enough cold water to fully submerge the pork bones. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Next, turn off the heat, dump everything into a colander, and rinse the pork bones clean. Wash the soup pot as well. This process will help to get rid of any remaining impurities in the pork bones to ensure a clear soup.
  3. Now put the pork bones back in the pot, and add the ginger, all of the dried ingredients, and 2500ml of cold water. Bring everything to a boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to simmer. Let the soup simmer for 3 to 4 hours.IMG_5878.jpg
  4. Before serving, skim off any fat from the surface of the soup.
  5. Salt to taste. Use a colander to remove all the rehydrated ingredients. Serve hot, along with some soy sauce on the table for dipping your pork into.


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