Cantonese (Hong Kong) Style Borscht 羅宋湯

by Yi on January 16, 2014 · 44 comments

Post image for Cantonese (Hong Kong) Style Borscht 羅宋湯

I grew up in Chongqing, China where the temperature reaches over 100 F in the summer time and stays comfortably above 50s during winter time.

So one of my biggest challenges after moving to New York was to cope with the cold winter here.

And I have been doing pretty well on that. After all I have survived a number of freezing winters in NYC.  And I honestly didn’t believe it could get any worse than the past few winters until last week when the deadly polar vortex hit my part of the States!!

Last week was the coldest few days I had ever experienced in my life! I mean it was so cold that my 10 minute walk from the subway station to work almost turned into a life-threatening venture.

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

But it wasn’t all that negative. For one, the cold weather smashed the 118 year record in Central Park New York.

And when the temperate drops outside, my kitchen tends to heat up. While the polar vortex was visiting, I was cooking up some of my favorite winter soups including borscht.

And this borscht is not the typical beets-laden borscht you are used to. This Cantonese style borscht, aka Lor Song Tong or 羅宋湯, is a Chinese take on the classic borscht. It’s popular in China and it is regarded as a stable in Cantonese speaking Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Canton.

In contrast to the Ukrainian borscht or other European style borscht, this Cantonese style borscht features beef or oxtail and does not have any beets nor it is served with sour cream. The only thing this soup resembles the original borscht is how delicious it is. :)

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

When I crave for a simple but comforting Chinese soup, this borscht is always on the top of my list. Since most of the soup are just vegetables you’ll not feel guilty to drink that extra bowl. And most importantly, this tomato-based soup is so flavorful that it will not only satisfy your stomach but also warm up your heart in this cold winter.

So if you still have no idea what this soup is all about, let’s just call it hearty beef with tomato and mixed vegetable soup. If that sounds good to you then be sure to check out the recipe below.

P.S. before I forget, I just would like to mention that the Chinese New Year 2014 will be on January 31st. It will be the year of horse!

Every year, I post special Chinese New Year recipes right around this time but for this year I am doing something EXTRA SPECIAL. Please check back in the new few days for the details!!

 

Step by Step Illustration

Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 12 Servings

Make this Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht following this step-by-step recipe at www.yireservation.com.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb beef (or oxtail)
  • 3 quart beef broth or vegetable broth
  • 4 fresh tomato
  • 2-3 potatoes
  • 3 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 all spice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Blanch the beef in boiling water to get rid of the blood. Remove from the boiling once the beef shrinks and turns color
  2. Cut the beef into 1x1 cubes. No need to cut if you use oxtails. Combine the beef cubes, bay leaves, and all spice with 3 quarts of beef broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes
  3. Chop all the vegetables into smaller pieces. Add all the vegetables to the soup and bring to boil
  4. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Remove as much of the floating foam as possible and stir the vegetables occasional. The vegetables should be tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste
http://yireservation.com/recipes/cantonese-hong-kong-style-borscht/

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leigh April 11, 2014 at 7:35 am

I love your blog. We are from NYC, but live in NJ now. Last year we went to Hong Kong and China and I found your blog trying to recreate some of the amazing dishes we had on our trip.

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2 Yi April 11, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Hello Leigh, thanks for checking out my blog! I am so glad to hear that you enjoy authentic Chinese food! Hope you get to try some of the recipes from this site and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

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3 Emily February 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

This is one of my favorite soups of all time! I love the combination of tomato, oxtail and bay leaf. My family used to go out to eat at a Cantonese diner that would sometimes serve this as the soup of the day, and I always crossed my fingers hoping it would be my lucky day to eat borscht! Thanks for sharing.

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4 Yi February 5, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Hello Emily, thanks for stopping by! Yes I absolutely love the flavor of this soup. I didn’t have oxtail on hand that day but I’d use oxtail instead of beef whenever I can. Hope you get to have this soup next time you visit the Cantonese diner!

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5 Rosa January 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Healthy and scrumptious! A lovely soup.

Cheers,

Rosa

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6 Yi January 29, 2014 at 11:02 pm

thank you Rosa.

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7 BK January 27, 2014 at 2:03 am

Hi
Could you share how to make good:
(1) beef broth
(2) vegetable broth
Tks

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8 BK February 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hi Yi
Do hope you can share how to make the broths.
Do you always make them in advance so you have some when needed?
Tks
BK

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9 Yi February 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Hello BK, I like to have some stock on hand or frozen in my freezer. I do use the store bought stock for emergency only. I’ll post some how-to-recipes for the broths. Please stay tuned.

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10 BK February 5, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Hi Yi
Thanks for your reply.
Do also share how you freeze them and info like how long they can keep etc.
Tks!
BK

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11 Yi February 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm

My pleasure. Will include how to freeze the broth. Thanks again for visiting.

12 BK January 27, 2014 at 2:02 am

Hi
Could you share how to make:
(1) beef broth
(2) vegetable broth
Tks

Reply

13 Link January 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I love making Chinese borscht, but I usually make it with pork spareribs or chicken drumsticks instead of beef. I also love the Ukrainian/Russian borscht.

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14 Yi January 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Hello Link, thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to try the pork and chicken version though. I am sure they taste very good. Yes I love Russian borscht as well. I especially like to make Russian borscht cold and serve in the summer!

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15 Shuhan January 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Love borscht, Love canto soups, and so I absolutely adore what you did with this. When it’s cold, there is nothign that I crave more than a good bowl of soup (might have rambled on a bit too much about that in my blog lately, but, still..). I will definitely be trying your recipe on a cold chilly night!

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16 Yi January 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Thanks Shuhan.

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17 gregorsamsa February 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Shuhan has a great blog too! (I have to try the soup with “crack.”)

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18 Yi February 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Totally agree! Her blog is so creative and inspirational!

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19 tigerfish January 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

A light, comforting and warming soup. Love it!

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20 Donalyn@The Creekside Cook January 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

This soup looks like it would be wonderful on a day like this – up north a couple hours from the city, it was -10 when I got up this morning! Definitely soup weather and I think this one will find it’s way to the table this week!

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21 Abbe@This is How I Cook January 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm

My father loves borscht and always kept a jar in the fridge. Of course, it was not this borscht. I think I would like this borscht but his-not so much!

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22 Jeannie Tay January 20, 2014 at 12:46 am

Hi Yi, this soup sounds delicious and so comforting for a wet day, plenty of rain here since it is the monsoon season:)

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23 wok with ray January 19, 2014 at 8:30 pm

This is perfect for cold weather we are having and I’m sure many times colder in NY. If the soup looks delicious like this, I would even have it during summer. Have a great week ahead, Yi! :)

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24 Bam's Kitchen January 19, 2014 at 8:09 am

It has even been a little chilly by Hong Kong’s standard over this last week with evening temperatures dipping down to 11 degrees celsius. I know that is nothing compared to NY low temps but your soup will really hit the spot. Really looking forward to your special CNY rollout on your blog. 新年快乐!

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25 Eha January 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Having been born in Tallinn, Estonia where borscht was something served at least once a week, I have to admit I do not understand [tho' I do accept] that the soup can be made without beetroot ~ in Estonia its other name is ‘beetroot soup’! Always has been, always will be!!! I agree with Sissi that it should have a sourish flavour, but your lovely version can but be ‘in the style of’ . . . :) !

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26 Yi January 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Hi Eha, thanks for stopping by. I have to agree that this is not the borscht that everyone’s used to and it makes one wonderful how a dish gets totally transformed when it travels to a different part of the world. I’ll have to do a bit more research on the original of this version of “borscht” haha. In my weak defense though, I’d say there is some sour flavor coming from the tomatoes. Maybe that was the reason this soup was tied to borscht? :)

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27 Eha January 18, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Why on earth do you need ‘defense’ :) ? Methinks Sissi is totally correct when she talks of a tasty, warming beef soup avec les tomates :) ! To provide that tang!! ‘I do it my way and you do it your way’!!!! Looking forwards to your name in the letterbox!!!!

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28 gregorsamsa January 19, 2014 at 11:42 am

Definitely the term “borscht” is applied by some Eastern Europeans to certain cabbage soups.

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29 Sissi January 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

Very interesting discussion! Actually the name “borscht” (or “barszcz” as it’s written in Polish) comes from the name of a big plant (hogweed in English, lat. Heracleum sphondylium L.), which is in Polish called also “barszcz” and which was used a long time ago, fermented, as a sour basis for certain soups.
Nowadays juice from fermented beets is used in the red borscht and if someone doesn’t have much time, even lemon juice might be used to make the soup tangy (I talk here about beet soup). I do this often ;-)
In Poland there is a soup called “white borscht”, which is made based on juice from fermented flour and which is traditionally served for Easter. It is also sour. (This soup is very close to “zurek” and according to wikipedia exists also in Belarus, Czech Republic and Slovakia).
I agree with Eha partly: in Poland also when someone says “borscht” it means sour beetroot soup. If someone talks about the white sour soup, he adds always the word “white”.
There is also a third “borscht” called “Ukrainian” which contains lots of cabbage. It is also slightly sour, but I think judging by the looks it’s closest to Yi’s Chinese twist.
All this makes me so hungry for nice red borscht with small dumplings!!! I haven’t had it for ages!

30 Juliana January 18, 2014 at 12:44 am

This is the kind of meal that I enjoy, especially when it is cold…very comforting Yi.
Have a great weekend :D

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31 Yi January 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I want to make more simple meals like the soup this year. You have a great weekend!

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32 Angie@Angie's Recipes January 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

This looks so warming and delicious!

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33 Yi January 18, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Thanks Angie!

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34 gregorsamsa January 16, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I agree with Sissi. Borscht = sweet n sour. Would a splash of one of the Chinese vinegars work?

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35 Yi January 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

That’s an excellent suggestion. I’ll try with some vinegar with my leftover soup!

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36 John@Kitchen Riffs January 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Wow, this looks incredibly good! We’re all about soups in the cold weather, and we, too, got the lovely experience of the polar vortex. So we’ve been making soups nonstop! This looks terrific – thanks.

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37 Yi January 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Thanks John. Hope you are staying warm!

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38 DB January 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Might try this. Thanks for the recipe. What I’ll do is add a parsnip (have them on hand) and omit one tomato. Parsnips are sweet. The texture is more fibrous than carrot but I think it will work.

Is that shin beef you’re using? I use that when I make Chinese beef stew and I also use tendon. Wish I’d made my stew last week.

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39 Yi January 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Hi DB, feel free to add and remove any vegetables to fit your preference. Yes I used beef shin for the soup. I just love the texture of shin. Please let me know how you liked the soup!

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40 DB January 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Might try this. Thanks for the recipe. What I’ll do is add a parsnip (have them on hand) and omit one tomato. Parsnips are sweet. The texture is more fibrous than carrot but I think it will work.

Is that shin beef you’re using? I use that when I make Chinese beef stew and I also use tendon. Wish I’d made my stew last week.

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41 gregorsamsa January 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Hi Yi, since it has cabbage, you have every right to call it a cabbage borscht. I bet this would even prettier using red cabbage. I wonder if that affects the flavor.

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42 Yi January 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Good call on the red cabbage. I personal think the difference between the two types of cabbage is very sublet.

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43 Sissi January 16, 2014 at 8:27 am

Your soup looks wonderful! As for the borscht, it doesn’t always contain beetroots: I don’t know Ukrainian cuisine well enough, but in Poland (borscht is not only Ukrainian, but in general Eastern and Central European soup) there is red borscht containing beetroots and also white borscht which doesn’t contain any. In theory borscht should be more or less sour.

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44 Yi January 18, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Thanks for the info Sissi!

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