20-minute healthy, delicious and simple bok choy soup perfect for those cold days!
It's flavourful, umami-rich (thanks to shiitake mushrooms) and full of leafy green goodness.
This clear Chinese soup works great with a variety of hearty meals, at the same time, helps you hit your daily veggie intake! Alternatively, also great on its own with some steamed rice added as a healthy light meal/snack.
- Bok choy - a type of Chinese cabbage and has a few different spelling variations such as 'pak choi' or 'pok choi'. 'Bok choy' is the Cantonese pronunciation of this vegetable (directly translated as "white vegetable"). In Mandarin, it's called 'qing cai' ("green vegetable") or 'xiao bai cai' ("little white vegetable").
- Tomatoes - adds flavour, a little acidity and extra nutrition to the soup!
- Dried shiitake mushrooms - umami powerhouse that makes all the difference to this soup! I recommend using dehydrated shiitake mushrooms over fresh shiitake mushrooms for this soup (and perhaps a majority of the time) as it's way more fragrant. You can find these at Asian supermarkets.
- Vegetable stock or chicken stock - either works, I prefer using Chinese chicken stock powder, ones you can find at Asian supermarkets. They are really delicious and authentic in flavour (I used that to make the easy soup base for my wonton noodle soup recipe).
- Ginger - adds an ever-so-subtle warmness to the soup. It's a commonly used ingredient in many Chinese soups!
- Olive oil - may seem a little odd in a Chinese recipe but I find the subtle flavours of olive oil quite delicious in this clear soup. Plus, it's healthier! Alternatively, use neutral-tasting oils such as sunflower, grapeseed or canola.
Not much can beat a belly and soul-warming soup that is super quick and easy to make!
This vegetarian bok choy soup takes just 15 minutes to make with about 5 minutes of prep time.
So let's get into it!
Prepare the ingredients
To start, separate the outer layers of the bok choy, wash and then cut the core parts in half.
You don't have to half the cores but it does look nice - presentation matters!
Then, wash tomatoes and cut them into thick wedges, just like in the picture above.
Thinly slice ginger, you'll only need about 2 - 3 slices for this recipe. Add more if you want a more prominent warmth from the ginger.
How to wash and cut bok choy for soups
When it comes to adding leafy vegetables into soups, bok choy is a clear winner!
To wash bok choy, the trick is to first cut a small slice off the end of a bulb (just like in the picture below).
This will automatically separate most of the outer layers. Then, you're left with a small core bulb. You can then cut the core in half, lengthways, like how I've done it in this recipe. It's not necessary, but it looks great 🙂
To wash, rinse each stem under cold tap water, and give the white parts a quick rub to get rid of any muddy bits.
Alternatively, wash the vegetables in a sink filled with water, about 2 times or until the sink water is completely mud free (like washing spinach in my easy spinach stir fry with garlic).
Make the easy bok choy soup
To make this fool-proof, super beginner-friendly soup, in a large pot, add chicken stock (or vegetable stock), ginger slices, dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and tomato wedges.
Bring the soup up to a boil over high heat then turn the heat down to low and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.
This 10 minutes of simmering time gives time for the shiitake mushrooms to release their aromatic flavours and for the tomatoes to break down and season the soup.
Now, remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Season the soup with a small splash of soy sauce and olive oil.
Add all of the bok choy into the pot.
It may look like there's too much bok choy for the soup and the pot as soon as you put them in.
However, like all leafy greens, the leafy parts wilt really quickly and reduce in size (just not as significantly as spinach as shown in my 10-minute garlic spinach stir fry)!
There's no need to stir or flip the bok choy much, simply use a spoon or ladle, and push the vegetables down into the pot to help submerge them in the boiling soup.
Let the bok choy soup boil for just 1 minute then immediately turn the heat off.
Just 1 minute is all it takes to boil bok choy until it's perfectly tender.
Overcooking will result in the vegetables losing their vibrant green colour - they'll turn dull and brownish. A little less appetising in appearance although perfectly good to eat.
This quick and easy bok choy soup is delicate in flavour and thus perfectly complements flavour-rich dishes. Below are some examples to get your creative brain juices going!
Tasty stir fry recipes (with a side of freshly steamed rice) to pair with are:
- Hearty black pepper beef stir fry
- 15-minute Chinese tomato and egg stir fry
- 15-minute mapo tofu
- Chinese cashew chicken
Delicious rice recipes to pair with are:
- 20-min Chinese BBQ pork fried rice
- 20-min Chinese sausage fried rice
- 15-min prawn fried rice
- Hearty, melt-in-your-mouth Taiwanese braised pork belly rice (lu rou fan)
Flavourful noodle recipes to pair with are:
- 15-minute Cantonese soy sauce noodles (chow mein)
- 10-minute chilli garlic noodles
- Hearty beef noodle stir fry
- Hearty spicy cumin lamb noodles
Alternatively, I personally quite like pouring this hot soup into a large bowl with a scoop or two of steamed rice. It's a very simple, hearty and light meal.
Useful tips and tricks
- Use dehydrated shiitake mushrooms for maximum umami flavour instead of fresh shiitake mushrooms.
- Do not overcook the bok choy, it'll lose its vibrant green colour and turn yellow/brownish. It'll still taste good but just won't look as appetising.
- For variety, add fresh mixed mushrooms like enoki mushrooms and oyster mushrooms along with bok choy at the end.
- For something a little more substantial, add Chinese pork or fish meatballs to the soup. It'll also add an extra layer of flavour. You can find Chinese meatballs for soups (and hotpots) in Asian supermarkets in the frozen section.
All of it! The white stems are tender and crisp.
Just 1 minute in a boiling soup is enough to cook the vegetable. It might still look quite crisp but the hot soup will continue the cooking process even with the heat off. By the time you are eating, it'll be at the perfect doneness!
The leafy part shrinks quite a lot but not as much as spinach leaves. The white stems don't really shrink. Because of this, bok choy is perfect for soups as it holds its shape quite well.
Leftovers and storage
This bok choy soup is best served on the day. The good news is that it is very easy to make! Nonetheless, it lasts for up to 7 days in the fridge, stored in airtight containers.
Reheat over the stove or in a microwave.
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below.
I'd love to hear from you. 🙂
Bok Choy Soup (Vegetarian)
- 2 bunches bok choy stems separated, washed, core halved
- 2 tomatoes large, cut into wedges
- 4 dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
- 2 slices ginger thin slices
- 1½ litre (6 cups) vegetable stock or chicken stock
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or neutral tasting oil
- In a large pot, combine stock, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and tomatoes. Bring up to a boil then simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, increase the heat to high. Add soy sauce, oil and bok choy. Push the bok choy down with a ladle to submerge it into the stock. Cook at boiling point for 1 minute then turn the heat off. (note 1)
- Taste the stock and adjust for seasoning (salt) if required. Serve.
- Add fresh mixed mushrooms like enoki mushrooms and oyster mushrooms along with bok choy at the end.
- Add Chinese pork or fish meatballs to the soup. It'll also add an extra layer of flavour. You can find Chinese meatballs for soups (and hotpots) in Asian supermarkets in the frozen section.
- Add tofu cubes to add protein to the soup and keep it vegetarian if desired.