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ABC Soup (Pork Ribs, Potato, Carrot, Onion)

Note: First posted in Jul 2009, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.

This Chinese pork ribs soup with vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, celery) is commonly known as “ABC soup” or “luo song tang” 罗宋汤 here. I think every family who cooks Chinese soups in Singapore (and Malaysia) cook some form of ABC soup if you see potatoes, carrots, corn etc in their pot. You know the combination of ingredients is perfect when 10 minutes into simmering, the entire kitchen is filled with a wonderful soup aroma.

Similar Recipe:
Chicken "ABC" Soup Recipe
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I always wonder why it is called ABC soup since there are no pasta letters in it, and the main ingredients (typically potatoes and carrots) do not form the letters A, B and C. Check out the following fun compilation of readers’ comments which explain the origins of the soup name.

ABC Soup

Possible reasons for the name “ABC Soup” from readers’ comments, thanks for sharing!

  • @k (my fave!) “I read from somewhere that it’s called ABC soup because: A-nion, B-otato, C-arrot
  • @Steve Seto – “It’s called “ABC” because it’s popular with American Born Chinese. It’s a name given by native Chinese restaurant workers.
  • @Michelle ChewScientifically and logically, the name ‘ABC’ for this soup arises from the vitamins it provides: Vit A – Carrot, Vit B – Potato (Vit B6 in specific), Vit C – Tomato
  • @andy “A – Ang Mo Kio (Tomato), B – Bah Kut (pork ribs), C – Carrot”
  • My theory (to add on): “Making this soup is as easy as ABC!

76 comments on “ABC Soup (Pork Ribs, Potato, Carrot, Onion)”

  1. I’m missing home like mad (sick…) and this soup reminds me of home straight away! oh so comforting!

  2. Pingback: ABC Juice (Apple, Beetroot, Carrot) | NoobCook.com

  3. I have not heard ABC soup before, I only know the Campbell’s ABC alphabetic soup. Yours in much healthy of course : )

  4. Hi Noobcook

    I am an older Chinese American living in San Francisco, CA. I am a newbie (dummy?) when it comes to cooking. Your fantastic recipes and their accompanying photos have whet my interest. I want to start cooking.

    Your recipe for ABC soup calls for Ikan Bilis (anchovies). Can you send me the Chinese characters for this, so that I can go Chinatown and purchase them?
    Is there a substitute for the anchovies, should I not be able to get them? Would it be ok to omit them from the recipe without sacrificing too much of the flavor?

    Thank you for your attention.

    H. Ng

    • Hi H.Ng, the Chinese characters are 江鱼仔. However, I think you can just omit them from the recipe as the taste is quite subtle. Just remember to season the soup with some salt at the end. Thanks for your kind words! Hope you like the recipe when you try it out. :-)

  5. I love to put many tomatoes in ABC soup. This is my husband’s favorite soup. Next time I should try with anchovies too.

  6. Hi can i check with you what type of onions do u use ? Is it the big white ones ? Will it make the soup sweet ? TY !

  7. Wonderful recipe.. :)

    Btw, may I ask what is the use/purpose for blanching the pork ribs with boiling water for 5 mins? also in your Chinese Minestrone soup recipe, you blanched the chicken.

    • Hi Janice, the purpose is to remove the “scum” so that you have clear soup. However you can skip this step if you don’t mind the tiny particles in the soup after cooking.

  8. Hi, if you dont mind me interrupting. I happened to visit your blog and cant help but feeling entertained by all sorts of explanation on how the ‘ABC’ name comes from. Scientifically and logically, the name ‘ABC’ for this soup arise from the vitamins it provides

    Vit A – Carrot
    Vit B – Potato (Vit B6 in specific)
    Vit C – Tomato


    • Thanks for sharing your insight Michelle! Your explanation makes a lot of sense as well. I decided to update this post with all the possible reasons that are shared in the comments section, including yours. Hmm they all sound equally plausible, I wonder which is the real explanation behind the origins of the name for this soup hehe :-)

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  10. Great website! Good guidance for beginner like me, i’ve cooked the ABC soup just like ABC that easy, thanks!

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