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Old Cucumber Soup

Old Cucumber Soup
Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤

In Chinese Herbology, foods have ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ properties. Yin foods have ‘cooling’ properties while yang foods, on the other hand, have ‘heaty’ properties. Some foods are ‘neutral’. Since ancient times, the Chinese firmly believed that diet (along with other factors like stress, climate and lifestyle) plays an important part in acheiving a balanced ying/yang quotient for an individual. So in a country like Singapore, where it is warm & humid all year round, consuming cooling foods to counter the ‘heat’ – such as this old cucumber soup – is definitely a must. I think this soup is also very beneficial for those in other countries who are experiencing summer now.

Old Cucumber Soup

The Chinese name of this vegetable (yes, I know technically it is a fruit, but I don’t think it’s wrong to call it a vegetable in cooking :P) is 老黄瓜, literally translated as ‘old yellow cucumber’. According to this site, old cucumber is actually matured cucumber, hence its brown, wrinkled and hard skin. Looking at its dried-out skin, you might never have guess that consuming it is good for the skin and helps prevent aging! It is also high in dietary fiber, calcium, iron and rich in vitamin A, B6, and C. So, are you sold on the wonderful properties of this soup yet? If you are, let’s start cooking!

(Serves 3)

– One small to medium size Chinese old cucumber
– 1.3 litres of water
– 10 red dates
– 6 dried scallops
– 200g pork ribs
–  1 piece dried cuttlefish
– 1 sweet corn, cut to small pieces
– 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut (
– salt, to taste

1. Scrub the skin of the old cucumber clean and cut it in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut into smaller chunks.
2. In a small pot, blanch the pork ribs in boiling water for a few minutes (so as to remove the scum bits). Drain the pork ribs and set aside.
3. In a soup pot, add old cucumber chunks, blanched pork, water, red dates, dried scallops, dried cuttlefish, sweet corn and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the soup over low heat for about 40 minutes. For best results, keep warm in thermal pot for four hours prior to serving. Season to taste with salt.

Cooking Notes

1. The reason for leaving the skin on the old cucumber chunks is to prevent the flesh from turning mushy after cooking.
2. Some people like to consume the seeds so if you do, then you don’t have to scoop them out.

Adding a piece of dried cuttlefish (along with the dried scallops, red dates & other ingredients) makes the soup sweeter.

De-seeding old cucumber
Scoop out the seeds using a spoon.

Old Cucumber Soup

Another ‘Yin’ soup
Watercress Soup

Further Reading about Yin and Yang Foods
Yin & Yang of Chinese Cooking
Chinese Food Theraphy
Yin & Yang: balancing health with food

This recipe is submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blog event started by Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted this week by Archana’s Kitchen.

37 comments on “Old Cucumber Soup”

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  2. This is awesome, I used to have this in HK a lot. but pity that the old cucumber is not accessible here in CH. My mom makes the soup in a slightly different way.

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  4. Hi, I did not put any red dates but my soup turned out to be sour too! When I cooked the first time it was ok. Not sure why this time was like that. Was wondering if the old cucumber was not mature/ripe enough?

  5. I tried making the soup last week. Modified your recipe a little (omitted the cuttlefish, added more scallops/honey dates/ribs/water). It tasted really good! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Dear wiffy,
    My husband and I enjoyed the soup.


  7. I love these Chinese soups especially they are cooked the Cantonese style. Is it a must to add carrots and sweet corn? The kind of double boiled old cucumber soup I tried before don’t have these ingredients.

    • it’s not a must though they make the soup extra sweet. Just season the soup at the end to taste with either salt or light soy sauce :)

  8. Hi Wiffy, I love your blog! You can always seem to make your food so tasty with the least amount of seasonings! Very healthy! I want to try your soup recipes but can i ask how do I make my soups less oily? Your soups seems looks so clear. Nice! I plan to use frozen spare ribs. How should I handle them? Or is there other parts of the oink oink that I can use that would be less oily? Many thanks!

    • Hi Eileen, spare ribs is a good cut for making soups. Thaw them, blanch in boiling water before used to simmer the soup. I don’t think your soup will be oily.

  9. Hi, when did you put in the cucumber? =) Am cooking this soup right now. Mmm…I might put them in 5 mins before I turn off the fire. Hopefully it turned out OK. Thanks for the recipe. Love ur blog!!! =)

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