Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What soup to make for today?

A meal without a soup is just incomplete in Chinese crusine. It will be much more pleasant for my girl when there is soup on the table. Therefore, I have the habit of having a pot of soup on our dinner table everyday. Be it a bowl of Marmite or Bowvil soup, it has to be something.

Whenever I shop for fresh food in the market, my priority is always the soup.  I always have this question in my mind :"What soup to cook for today?" 

I glance around for... nothing new as usual. Watercress soup, raddish soup, old cucumber soup, ABC soup, spinach, lotus root soup .... not again! 

Recently a friend recommended me to try something new - artichoke. 

Artichoke soup has a very soothing and exquisite taste. 

I was told that artichoke has high nutritional value.
So to satisfy my curiousity, I did some checks on this.

Quick facts about Benefits of Artichoke:

Artichoke is a plant that contains protein. Unlike protein from animals, artichoke is cholesterol-free, saturated fat free and trans fat free too! 

Artichoke aids our liver in regenerating tissue growth.
It has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties. 
It helps in regulating our body temperature.

Apart from the above, artichoke also has the following benefits.

  • high Antioxidant to protect against cancer.
  • A substance called Rutin helps prevention of vascular disease.
  • Artichoke is Trans-fat free. Also cholesterol free despite it being a plant-based protein.
  • The presence of Vitamin C promote strong Immune system.
  • Artichoke contains Colour pigments to improve memory function.
  • Artichoke promotes Healthy aging.
  • Osteoporosis prevention as artichoke contains magnesium good for bones building.
  • The presence of multi-nutritiens in artichoke has helped in Keeping blood-sugar levels stable particularly beneficial to diabetic patients.
  • Artichoke also has super Excellent source of dietary fiber.
That makes ARTICHOKE!

How to Prepare the Artichoke

Separate the flower and the stem. Cut the stem into length of 3 or 4 inches.

For the stem, it looks like sugarcane. Use a small knife to trim away the exterior.  

Next, we prepare the flower. Peel away the first 2 or 3 layer of petals (they are usually dried up or turned black.)

Use scissors to cut away the sharp edges. Again they are usually dried and turned a little black as well.

The finished product will look like this.

Cut the flower into half. This is how it looks like inside. Usually, I like to cut them into an eighth so it is easy for me to wash away any hidden particles in between the petals.

I have cut the artichoke flower into 8 pieces. 

The florets in the centre of the flower (called "choke") are not edible. Use a knife to cut them away.

Slide in the knife just beneath the florets and tilt the knife upwards gently. The entire "bouquet" of florets should come off nicely and easily. Discard the florets.

By tilting the knife gently will not loosen the florets. See the florets are still in one piece. The cleaned artichoke flower should look something like this. 

Wash the artichoke (don't forget the stem) under running water to make sure no hidden particles or left over florets in between. The artichoke will turn yellow or brown after a while if you don't cook it immediately. To prevent this, soak the artichoke in clear water with lemon juice or salt. 

Next, heat up a pot of water. Bring to boil. Boil the artichoke for 3 hours under medium to low heat.

This is how artichoke water looks like after 3 hours.

There are two ways to consume this. One is drink it as Artichoke Tea. The other option is make it into Artichoke Soup. 

1. Artichoke Tea

Remove the artichoke from the soup. Let it cool to warm temperature. Drink it as tea just like that. Or add some rock sugar to taste. I usually do this because my girl doesn't like the artichoke's natural "raw" taste.

It is a very soothing tea especially during hot weather.   

2. Artichoke Soup 

Alternatively, add in chicken or pork broth (see below for preparation of the borth).

This option goes very well with any Chinese crusine.

Preparation of chicken or pork broth


1. one piece of chicken carcass or 300gram of pork rib bones

2. 6 - 8 pieces of red dates 红枣           
3. ~20 pieces of Wolfberry 枸杞
4. salt to taste


1. Bring a pot of water to boil (approximately 2.5 to 3 liter). 
2. Put in chicken carcass or pork rib bones, red dates and wolfberry. 
3. Boil under high heat for 1/2 hour.
4. Turn to low-medium heat, continue to boil for another 2 hours. If the soup is drying up, reduce the heat and add water. Ensure water level sufficient to cover all ingredients at all times. Continue to simmer until 2 hours is up.
5. Add in artichoke water from above.
6. Bring to boil and add salt to taste.

You can also boil both the broth and artichoke together. I like to boil them separately so I can enjoy the best of both worlds at the same time.

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