Bittergourd Soup

Do you enjoy bitter flavours? I like certain kinds of bitter. The kind from dark chocolate, leafy greens, tea, ginseng…. bittergourd.

If you asked me maybe 15 years ago, I might have flinched at the mere mention of bittergourd. I’ve always loved dark chocolate so that didn’t count as bitter for me but bittergourd… oh, the bittergourd. I’ve had a friend who wished these gourds were banished from the face of the earth. My own brother thinks these are demon plants. I, on the other hand, beg to differ. I’d like to think my palate has become more all-embracing, more mature, more open to flavours.

I never used to like veggies. They are a necessary part of life, if you want to live a healthy one (some people wouldn’t agree *ahem*, I know). But given the choice then, I’d easily choose cheese or steak over a bowl of bok choy. Now, though, I’d be happy with salad for lunch. Or bittergourd soup for dinner.

You see, sometimes the benefits of having something outweigh the initial trepidation and after a little getting used to, it ain’t half bad. I’ve been told that bittergourd lowers blood sugar levels, cools down the body, relieves it from toxin etc. Not sure how substantiated these claims are but if it’s good for me, I may as well enjoy it. And I am glad to say I really do now. WITH an extra step in the preparation, if I might add.

So how do I use this bitter bitter fruit in a soup? Firstly, it’s gotta have a good soup base. I used Pork Shoulder, Garlic, Dried Scallops, Dried Oysters, Goji Berries, Red Dates, Dried Chinese Yam, Egg & Bittergourd.
Bittergourd Soup 1

I took a few steps to remove some of the bitterness from the gourd, especially since not everyone likes its intensity.
Bittergourd Soup 2

Make sure to scrape out the seeds as well as the tough membranes. The membranes are hard and not very nice to chew on.
Bittergourd Soup 4

Once it is sliced up, toss in some salt & sugar.
Bittergourd Soup 5

This may seem like a lot but we are essentially quick pickling the bittergourd to extract the round out the sharp bitterness.
Bittergourd Soup 6

This is the amount of juice released after just 2 minutes. Leaving this for about 15 minutes, this releases about 1/4 cups of juices along with much of the bitterness.
Bittergourd Soup 7

Very important to rinse the slices super well, though. 2-3 rinses is generally needed just so all that salt doesn’t transfer into the actual soup. Which is why I don’t salt the soup up until the bitter gourd is added in. 
Bittergourd Soup 8

You’d be amazed how mellow the bitterness is in the soup. 
Bittergourd Soup 9

With the robust meat broth, the gourd offers a nice splash of brightness like how a nice squeeze of lemon juice is over fish & chips.
Bittergourd Soup 10

For those who do not like bittergourd, this might break them into this delightful world of bitter.
Bittergourd Soup 11

Sometimes, bitter is good. 
Bittergourd Soup 12

And delicious.


“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

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Bittergourd Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 8
  • 1 Bittergourd
  • 2 tbsp coarse Salt
  • 2 tbsp coarse Sugar
  • 8 oz (250 gms) Pork Bones, blanched
  • 8 Red Dates
  • 1 tbsp Goji Berries
  • 1 tbsp Dried Scallops
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oysters
  • 6 pieces Dried Chinese Yam (huai shan)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 8 cups Water + 2 cup (for blanching)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten.
  1. Bring water to a boil & blanch pork shoulder bones with excess 2 cups.
  2. Add in red dates, goji berries, Chinese yam, scallops, oyster & garlic cloves together with blanched bones & water. Simmer for about 2 hours.**
  3. When it's about 20 minutes until the soup base is ready, deseed & thickly slice the bittergourd. Toss it in salt & sugar. Leave to pickle in a colander over a bowl to catch released juices.
  4. Rinse quick pickled bittergourd slices very well, going 2-3 turns to remove all the salt & sugar.
  5. Add in rinsed & drained bittergourd slices into the soup & boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Drizzle in beaten eggs.
  7. Once the bittergourd has softened but still green, turn off the heat & serve.
**If you're using a thermal cooking pot, bring to boil in the inner metal pot & replace it into the outer thermal casing. Cover and leave for 2-3 hours. For slow cooker boiling, pour contents of the already soup into the ceramic pot & leave to heat on LOW for 6 hours.

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