Chinese Winter Melon Soup

Since the start our (partial) lockdown, my mum and I have been sending each other photos of our home-cooked meals. After a few days, she started asking “where’s the soup?!”. She said that during this period, Chinese soup is an important part of home cooking to keep one nourished. Okay noted mummy, I got lazy and I got caught :p To make up for it, I made this Chinese winter melon soup (冬瓜汤) soup the diligent way, brewing it for two hours before keeping warm for longer. Winter melon is neutral in taste so it absorbs the delicious essence of the rest of the ingredients after cooking. Being slightly cooling in nature, winter melon also helps to bring down body heat which is beneficial in our hot weather. If you prefer a quick cooking version, check out my winter melon with homemade pork balls soup recipe.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe

Winter Melon Disc

For ease of preparation, get a disc shaped piece of winter melon which is so, so much easier to cut. I always buy my winter melon at the wet market as they seem to perpetually sell their melon pieces in this disc form.

Cutting Winter Melon

This is what I meant about the disc piece being easier to cut. Simply remove the skin and the middle seeds. Then slice the winter melon flesh to large chunks, so that they won’t disintegrate after simmering for hours. If you are making a quick soup, you can cut them to smaller chunks.


Pork Ribs & Chicken Drumsticks

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe
This winter melon soup can be made with chicken or pork (on this particular day I used both).  If the drumsticks are large, make 2 deep slits on the surface. You can also substitute drumsticks with one kampong chicken. I used both pork and chicken in this soup because of varying tastes in my family recently.  You can use all pork, all chicken or a mixture of pork & chicken like I did.


I bought a glass soup pot just to make step-by-step photos. As the pot is actually a little small to make soup, I scaled down the ingredients. The actual recipe has been tested on the stove top with the full amount of ingredients.

Blanching Meat
Blanch the meat in a pot of water for 5 minutes, rinse the pieces and set aside.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe (Step by Step)
Dump the ingredients into the pot and add water to boil.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe (Step by Step)
When the water is boiling, lower the heat to simmer with a small vent opening on the lid, topping up water in between whenever needed.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe (Step by Step)
This is what my soup looks like after almost 2 hours of simmering. Season to taste with salt. For best results, keep the soup warm in a thermal pot for at least 2 hours or longer.

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe
I added wolfberries (last 5 minutes) and cooked barley (leftover the night before from my barley water). By the way, raw barley can added right from the start if you don’t have cooked barley. Stay safe and healthy!!

Chinese Winter Melon Soup Recipe

This Chinese winter melon soup can be made with chicken, pork or a mix of both. You can use more meat as you wish for a richer flavour.


  • 750g pork ribs or 5 large chicken drumsticks see cooking note below
  • 1.8 liter water (stove top) or 1.2 liter (slow cooker) top up whenever needed
  • 1 piece (600g) winter melon (冬瓜) flesh cut to large chunks; see cooking note below
  • 2 pieces dried octopus make snips with scissors all around; can substitute with 4 dried scallops
  • 1 carrot cut into chunks
  • 6 red dates (红枣)
  • 1 tbsp raw barley (薏米) optional; see cooking note
  • 1 tbsp wolfberries (枸杞子) optional
  • salt to taste
  • chopped spring onions serving suggestion
  • saucer of chilli padi in soy sauce serving suggestion


  1. Blanch the meat. In a soup pot, bring water to a boil. Add the pork and/or chicken. Boil for 5 minutes, take out the meat, rinse it under the tap and set aside.
  2. Make the soup. First method – stove top: In a large soup pot, add 1.8 liter water and all the ingredients except wolfberries and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours. For best results, keep warm in a thermal pot for at least 2 hours before serving. Second method – slow cooker: use only 1.2 liter of water. Add 1.2 liter water and all the ingredients except wolfberries and salt. Cook at “High” for 2 hours (starting from the time when the soup starts bubbling), then set to simmer at “Low” until ready to serve.
  3. Serve. Add wolfberries during the last 5 minutes of simmering. Season with salt to taste. To serve, ladle the soup to serving bowls, garnish with spring onions and a side saucer of chilli padi.

Cooking Note(s):

  1. You can also use a mixture of pork (500g pork ribs) and chicken (3 large drumsticks). The chicken drumsticks can also be substituted with 1 kampong chicken, cut to large pieces. Using more meat will enhance the natural sweetness of the soup.
  2. For easy cutting, use a disc shape piece of winter melon. Remove the skin & middle seeds, then cut the winter melon to large chunks.
  3. If you have cooked barley (leftover from making barley drink), you can add them to the soup after it is made.