Bitter Gourd Soup

Bitter Gourd Soup Recipe

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Bittergourd with pork ribs (苦瓜排骨汤) is one of my favourite home cooked Chinese soups. And it is really healthy. Just like watercress soup, bitter gourd (bitter melon) has cooling properties (among a host of other health benefits), which helps our body combat the hot weather.

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I’ve always love bitter taste more than sweet, but for those who do not like bitter gourd, don’t let the soup scare you – because it actually tastes quite sweet. The pork ribs, carrots and red dates lend their sweetness to balance the bitterness. I think those who do not like to eat bitter gourd have a better chance of accepting this soup than the classic bitter gourd with egg stir fry. Adjust the sweetness of the soup by adding more or less honey red dates. To me, however, a delicious bowl of bitter gourd soup must still taste slightly bitter, therefore I do not overpower the soup with too many honey red dates. I also like to buy the most bitter bitter gourd I can find (the dark green ones are usually more bitter) when making this soup.

Bittergourd (Bitter Melon)

Bitter Gourd Soup Recipe

Bitter Gourd Soup Recipe

If you want to reduce the bitterness of the bitter gourd before cooking, you can rub a small amount of salt on the bitter gourd after removing the seeds, and then rinsing off the salt with water.


  • 300g pork ribs
  • 400 grams bitter gourd (bitter melon/苦瓜)
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 2 honey red dates
  • 10 pitted red dates
  • 1 to 2 carrots peeled and cut to small chunks
  • 1 tbsp wolfberries soaked in water until puffy; drained
  • salt to taste


  1. Blanch pork ribs in boiling water for about 5 minutes, to remove the scum so that you have clear soup later.
  2. Cut the bitter gourd in half lengthwise, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and white pulp. Cut into large chunks.
  3. In a large soup pot, add water, red dates, blanched pork ribs, carrots and bitter gourd. When the water comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  4. Add wolfberries in the last 5 minutes of simmering. Season with salt. For best results, keep the soup warm in a thermal pot for a few hours before serving.

Noob Cook Tips

  1. After simmering for 20-30 minutes, taste the soup. If it’s too bitter, add one or two more honey red dates to your liking.
  2. Tip for choosing bitter gourd: In general, dark green bitter gourd is more bitter and light green is less bitter.
  3. If you like a better presentation, slice and set aside some thin bitter gourd slices and add it together with the wolfberries during the last 5 minutes of cooking.