Hearty Meatball Vegetable Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Ken Hom's Hot Wok

Ken Hom's Hot Wok

By Ken Hom

Published 1996

  • About

I have always loved those hearty soups which are a meal in themselves. Combined with Chinese flowering cabbage and beanthread noodles, the meatballs make this a rich and savoury soup that is perfect for a cool autumn or rainy evening. It is easy to make, once you have the stock.

The soup can be cooled and re-heated. You can, of course, use any vegetables instead of the Chinese flowering cabbage. This soup is delicious with Chinese leaves, spinach, even cabbage. Serve it with a good bread or with rice if you have some.


  • 350 g (12 oz) Chinese greens, such as Chinese flowering cabbage or bok choy
  • 50 g (2 oz) beanthread (transparent) noodles
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the Meatball Mixture

  • 350 g (12 oz) minced beef
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


Cut the Chinese greens into 5-cm (2-in) pieces. Peel the stalks and cut them at a slight diagonal into 5-cm (2-in) pieces. Soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. When soft, drain and discard the water. Cut into 7.5-cm (3-in) lengths using scissors or a knife.

Whizz the beef in a food processor for a few seconds. Slowly add the egg white and cold water and mix them for a few more seconds until they are fully incorporated into the meat. Then add the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix for about 1 minute until the meat mixture has become a light paste. Using your hands, form the mixture into about twelve 4-cm (-in) balls about the size of a golf ball.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, gently drop in the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes or until the meatballs float to the top. Remove them immediately with a slotted spoon and drain well.

In a large pan, bring the stock to a simmer, then add the beanthread noodles, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry and salt. Add the Chinese greens and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Return the meatballs to the simmering stock and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sesame oil and give the soup several good stirs. Ladle into a soup tureen or individual bowls and serve at once.