Happy New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! Today marks the beginning of a huge spring festival that is the most important festival and holiday in China. This year, February 16 marks the beginning of the year of the dog and it is celebrated by about a quarter of the world, including China, Singapore, and South Korea. If you are feeling intimidated by the prospect of an elaborate celebration, consider that sometimes just taking interest in another culture and letting dinner give a nod to their traditions can be a big step in expanding your world a bit.

To that end, I'm sharing one of my favorite go-to soup recipes for busy days. If you've ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant or ordered take out from one, you've probably enjoyed egg rolls. These crispy deep fried rolls are stuffed with all manner of fillings, but my favorites include tender ground pork, onions, garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Now, I don't have a deep fryer and rolling my own does sound a bit fussy, but I can work the filling ingredients into a simple soup and enjoy a bowl of warm inspired by them. If you happen to have some fried wanton strips or even french fried onions, you could float a few on your bowl too!

Now that you've got a fun idea for dinner, take the time you saved with this quick recipe and learn a little more about the Chinese New Year. Once you realize there are sixteen days to celebrate, you might want to dig into more great food and traditions!

Egg Roll Soup

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green cabbage, chopped into thin strips
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • For garnish: black sesame seeds, chili oil

Add the ground pork to a large stockpot and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the pork is lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a separate plate; reserve for later.

Add the olive oil and onion to the stockpot and stir to combine. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot and garlic, and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, stock, ginger, and cooked ground pork; stir to combine.

Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the carrots and cabbage are tender. Stir in the sesame oil until combined.

Serve warm, garnished with your desired toppings.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes