Day four of the Eating Down the Fridge challenge at A Mighty Appetite and I am behind on posting (but fortunately, eating well). Not only is today’s post a simple and delicious soup, it utilizes a cooking method which I’ve been using lately and am anxious to share with you. It’s energy saving and easier than a crockpot – it’s thermal cooking. This is serious ‘green cooking’.
A few years ago, when Joe’s parents came to visit us in California, they bought us a thermal cooking pot as a house warming gift. I will admit that I had never seen one before. However, the local Asian market stocked them as they are popular outside of North America. We took it home and immediately made a batch of congee.
The thermal cooking unit uses no electricity and is powered only by the heat contained within it. The outer case opens to expose a stainless steel insert, a small pot with a glass lid. Place your ingredients into the insert and bring to a rapid boil on the stove, then place immediately into the thermal encasement and close the lid. The heat is trapped within the unit and it’s this heat which cooks your food.
Here is a photo which illustrates it much better. This is our Zojirushi Stainless Thermal Cooking Pot.
As I went through my pantry yesterday, I came across a small bag of dried soybeans which my mother-in-law had given me a couple months ago. She insisted that they must be used in making bitter melon soup and when we couldn’t find them at the grocery store, she bagged up a bunch for me. I hadn’t used them and decided it was time.
I’ve been buying bitter melon almost weekly and had enough on hand to whip up this recipe. The vegetable is great to have on hand as it keeps well in the vegetable drawer, sometimes more than 2 weeks.
This soup combines the soybeans with bitter melon, a truly bitter vegetable which I’ve grown to love. I recently shared a another favorite bitter melon recipe, bitter melon with egg.
Bitter Melon & Pork Rib Soup
2 bitter melon (Fu Gua)
5 medium tomatoes
1 lb. asian-style pork ribs (cut 1.5″ x 2″)
1/3 cup dry soybeans
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
This recipe is made in a thermal cooking pot but could be adjusted for stovetop cooking.
Slice the bitter melon lengthwise and scoop out pith and seeds. Cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces. Add to the thermal pot.
Cut tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot along with the pork ribs, soybeans, and soy sauce. Fill the pot with water and place over medium heat.
Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Cover and place immediately into the thermal encasement and close the lid. Allow to sit for 12 hours. No peeking!
I put this together yesterday afternoon and just opened the pot, which means in cooked for closer to 18 hours. It’s forgiving. While cooking, the pot doesn’t emit any steam or smell. And, since it doesn’t use any energy source, it’s safe to leave cooking while you run errands.
The soup is delicious and one of our favorites. The tomatoes soften and combine with the ribs to make a rich and slightly acidic broth. The bitter melon melts in your mouth, as do the pork ribs. It’s a filling, yet light and refreshing soup. Perfect for lunch.
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