Comfort in a Bowl – Mustard Green and Pork Soup

by Linda Anusasananan

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On a cool night nothing comforts me more than a bowl of Mustard Green and Pork Soup. The hot broth is enriched with pork, garlic, and fresh ginger. Mustard greens transform the soup with a pronounced pungency that balances the pork.This simple soup sends warmth throughout my body and soothes my soul.With a scoop of hot rice, it turns into a whole meal in a bowl.

I find almost any variety or maturity of mustard green works, from leafy to broad stem varieties. Buy Chinese mustard greens at the farmers’ or Asian market. Or choose leafy varieties found at the supermarket.

Sometimes I embellish the soup with the addition of sliced carrots and chunks of tofu, or replace the pork with chicken. In almost any variation, it is a feel-good meal.

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Mustard Green and Pork Soup

Hakka love mustard greens–fresh, salted, pickled, and preserved. This soup shows off the flavor power of fresh mustard greens. As the greens simmer in the broth, their mustard pungency leaches into the broth for distinctive character.

Makes 6 to 8 servings as part of a multi-course meal or 3 or 4 main dish servings.

Ingredients:

6 cups chicken broth homemade or purchased

3 thin slices fresh ginger, lightly crushed

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

8 ounces ground pork (see note)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

12 to 14 ounces mustard greens

Instructions:

1. In a 4-quart pan over high heat bring the broth, ginger, and crushed garlic cloves to a boil.

2. Mix the ground pork, minced garlic, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Drop about 1/2-inch lumps (about 1 teaspoon each) of the pork mixture into boiling broth. Return to a boil, cover and simmer, until the pork is no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 3 to 5 minutes. Skim off fat and discard.

3. Meanwhile, trim the tough stem ends off the mustard greens and discard. Cut the greens into pieces 2 to 3 long and about 1/2-inch wide, to make about 8 cups. Rinse and drain. When the pork is done, add the mustard greens, bring to a boil, and cook until bright green and tender crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls or a large serving bowl.

Note: For a richer soup, omit the ground pork, minced garlic, and cornstarch and replace with 1 1/2 pounds bite-sized chunks of bone-in pork neck or 12 ounces boneless pork butt, cut into 1/2 inch-chunks. Simmer, covered, until the meat is tender when pierced, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, before adding greens. Add a little water or more broth, if some of the broth has evaporated.

Recipe from page 26 of The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World. For more information visit http://TheHakkaCookbook.com