Bitter Melon & Pork Rib Soup

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.

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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  1. The pot looks cool, but I’ll have to leave the bitter melon to you. To this day, it remains the ONLY food I can ever remember entering my mouth, and coming right back out! Not my best dim sum manners… but oh the taste… :o)

  2. Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  3. You’re *behind* on your posts? Okay Allen! ;)
    That is fascinating. So, the ribs ended up quite tender? It was hot when you opened it? (I admit, kind of dumb question…) I can’t believe you buy bitter gourd weekly. You’re such a grown-up! My tongue still can’t handle it! :)

  4. I ate a lot of bitter melon growing up in a Chinese family but haven’t had it forever now! I remember loving it in soups and also stir-fried with bamboo shoots and sliced pork. My mom also loved to use winter melon, which I find tastes similar to bitter melon but not as bitter. Great recipe!

  5. wow – i have not had bitter melon soup with the combination you have written of, and i’ll definitely try it! i’ve not had friends use tomato and soy bean, but i am trusting you/your mother-in-law on this one! oh, and we tried the bitter melon with egg you posted a while back, and it’s one of our favourites for dinner now! i would say……a bi-weekly occurrence!

  6. Queenie – The ribs add a lot of flavour to the soup. I add rice vermicelli or a small amount of rice to it for a heftier meal. If I’m more elaborate (i.e. using more than one vessel), I would dip the ribs in soy sauce and white pepper.

  7. I’m loving the challenge Kim has going on! Nice pots, too. I’m looking forward to your article on Friday!

  8. one of my favorite ways to cook bitter melon is making soup. having soybean in it is such a classic.
    i really want a big bowl now.

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