Food Feature: Bitter Melon Soup


Layla Lovan

Delicious and healthful homemade bitter melon soup.

Layla Lovan, Reporter

When I was younger my grandma would bring over bitter melon soup, oh boy was it hard for my parents to get me to eat it. So bitter. As I got older, I have begun to really love this dish, especially on sick and cold days. It is a unique dish and can definitely be an acquired taste to some. The dish is a classic Vietnamese dish, but this recipe gives a nod to my grandma’s originality, incorporating the essence of Lao cuisines.

According to Healthline, bitter melon has a number of benefits and can be extremely medicinal. As it can help lower blood sugar levels and has cancer-fighting properties. Plus the additional benefits from the other ingredients, like radish, mushrooms, and a plethora of greens. Bitter melon is grown in parts of Africa and Asia, in hot and humid climates. There are mainly two types of bitter melon, Karela bitter melon and Chinese bitter melon (one used in this recipe). It’s a dish that’s challenging to make wrong. As desired, you can add or remove. It is not necessary to follow the recipe perfectly for it to be delicious. It was straightforward and simple to make, and it was the first time I had ever recreated a cuisine from my childhood.

2-3 Large Chinese Bitter melon
MSG, Pepper, Salt
Stock of Enoki Mushrooms
4 Lao Eggplant
Stock of Green Onions
Half a Tablespoon of grated or minced Ginger
Half a Stock of Green Beans
2 Radishes
Half a pound of Pork Belly (or meat of choice)
Handful of Collard Greens
5 cups of Broth
3 cups of Water

1. Wash and cut your bitter melon in half vertically and remove the pith of the melon thoroughly, using a fork or spoon. To help reduce the bitterness you can rub salt all throughout the outside of the melon (optional). Then rinse the bitter melon and chop it up into bite sized pieces.
2. Next, rinse and cut the vegetables. Cut your green beans and onions in halves to your liking, largely dice the radish, and cut the eggplants in half. The collard greens do not have to be cut.
3. In a large pot add your broth and water and bring it to a boil, add ginger and seasonings of your choice.
4. Once to a boil add in your vegetables and bitter melon, lower heat to a simmer, and cover the pot for at least 15-20 minutes.
5. When the bitter melon has softened, add the meat after cutting it into larger slices.
6. Lastly, let the meat cook entirely (about 10 minutes) and enjoy!