Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ma's Lu Song Tang

Chinese Russian soup, luo song tang

My MIL is one of the top 3 cooks I know. Her cooking motto (unofficially) is 'taste first, everything else second'. This means she'll fry and then braise when she does a 'red-cook' meat, use the best ingredients and not scrimp on oil. She also doesn't cut corners and washes her wok clean each time she fries some thing so that she never gets burnt bits in her food. Those who know Chinese stir-fry will know what I mean: if you have, say, 3 ingredients in a stir fry, you should fry each separately, washing the wok clean after each frying, because not all ingredients cook in the same time. After each ingredient is cooked to the right level of crispness/doneness, you then fry them altogether to blend the tastes. I fry each ingredient one after the other without washing in between frying (even though Vero stands by to wash) so my dishes never turn out as perfect as MIL's.

One of the soups MIL cooks often is what she calls "luo song tang" (pronounced "loo soong tongue") or Russian soup. I think luo song tang is the Chinese version of the famous Russian veg soup, borscht. There are many versions of borscht in Eastern Europe countries such as the Ukraine, Poland etc and the main ingredients used are beets and cabbage. The Chinese version is simpler, as all Chinese soup are light and watery instead of thick and creamy because Chinese soup is drunk to clear the palate, not fill the stomach.

We love it when we go to MIL's house for Saturday dinners and a big pot of luo song tang is bubbling and giving the house a warm, comforting aroma. Through the years, I have taught MIL to westernize her soup by flavoring it with bay leaves and a can of tomatoes puree, which thickens the soup and adds a stimulating tanginess.

The last few weeks have been wet and rainy, perfect weather for luo song tang. Another reason I cooked this is to post the recipe for Ming, who's homesick for home-cooked soups. I added a large beet to redden the soup, but MIL doesn't do that.

Ma's Luo Song Tang
1.5 kg beef shin or any stewing beef, cut into small 2 cm cubes
1 medium can tomato puree*
1/2 kg tomatoes, 2 cm cubes*
1-2 large carrot, 2 cm cubes
4 sticks celery, 2 cm lengths
2 large potatoes, 2 cm cubes
1 medium sized beet (optional), 2 cm cubes
1 large onion, 2 cm cubes
2 large bay leaves
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

*MIL blanches the fresh tomatoes, then remove their skin and seeds but I don't bother. If you don't want to add tomato puree, increase the fresh tomatoes to 1 kg.

1. Boil about 6 liters of water, add the beef, onions, tomatoes and bay leaf and boil until beef is half-done. If you don't like the beef too soft, go to step 2 after 45 minutes and when beef is still hard.

2. Add the celery and beets to the soup and let simmer for about an hour. Then add the carrots, potatoes and tomato puree and the seasonings and boil until potatoes are slightly soft. If the water level is too low, add 1 or 2 cups of water if like, let soup come to a boil again and switch off the fire and leave the veg to rest and imbibe the soup.

3. Just before serving, heat soup up.


Precious Pea said...

The beetroot sure gives the soup a lovely pinkish colour. Haha..I am like you, I don't bother washing my wok although I do insist of cooking each ingredients separately when required.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, never eaten Chinese Russian soup before. Thanks for the recipe. There's always something new on this blog!


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ohhh wat a soup to have on a cold rainy day..seatin infront of the TV..

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

Any good oven you can recommend ? (aunt was asking me).. a quality good oven. something like urs.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pp:at least u've got ur basics right.

kim: i am under pressure to keep u guys happy

joe: tt's right

denise:forget about expensive brands like tikka which doesn't have good follow-up service. i am happy with my bosch. i got mine at signature, n they also carry them at kitchen delight in fortuna.electrolux is good too.

Anonymous said...

I chanced upon this recipe while searching up on variations of the luo song tang recipe. Just wanted to comment that this isn't traditional luo song tang. It's usually made with oxtails, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, and onions and boiled for hours until the meat is falling off the bone.

That being said, this soup looks very pretty! Thank you for sharing.

terri@adailyobsession said...

let me see, the only thing diff is u have the cabbage n the oxtail while i added the beets (which my MIL doesn't) n used beef shin. true borscht uses beets so i think u're thinking of msian ABC soup?

Rokujo said...


Really thorough recipe you have here, for luo song tang. To me, it will always be ketchup soup, ever since my mom made it when I was little. I have a small variant recipe that I thought of on a whim. Hotdogs! Check it out! Oxtail is pretty pricy where I live. And such a filling soup!

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