Green Leaf Soup

At the time of writing, I am sharing a kitchen with around 40 people from all parts of the world. Very often, someone asks me to share a recipe from my cuisine, and I usually have to decline, blaming the lack of fresh ingredients,[1] while I can only afford to shop for groceries weekly. While most Vietnamese dishes call for fresh meat (I can only buy refrigerated one), in certain case it doesn't really matter. One quick dish that could tolerate days-old meat is a soup of green leaf vegetables.

Back when I was still at home, a meal almost always consists of a soup. When we are about to finish a bowl of rice, we mix in the soup to wash all of the gelatinized starch (into our mouth). The soup could be anything from boiled vegetable broth to vine spinach and jute soup with crab juice. In that range of difficulty, I would rate the following recipe somewhere in the lower middle.


For a vegetable soup, of course you need a lot of veggie. As much as you can eat. I would recommend at least two handful per serving[2] of any Brassica leafs, e.g. mustard greens, spoon cabbage or regular cabbage.[3] The greener the plant the less starchy it is and the better it blends with the umami of the meat.

As for the animal product, minced or ground pork is a common choice. Minced chicken, fish or dried shrimp also works, but IMHO beef, lamb or goat could overpower the veggie. Meat is not the star of the show and should be used moderately, 50 grams[4] would be generous. There is no vegan variation of this dish AFAICT, except for reducing to just water, leafs and seasoning, but even a child could cook that without a recipe.

In addition, a shallot is required for searing and fish sauce for seasoning. It is OK-ish to use onion in place of shallot;[5] I am not a fan of using soy sauce in this dish though. Super salt (table salt and MSG 9:1 mix) is a better substitution in case you can't get your hands on the signature Vietnamese seasoning.

Last but not least, it would not be a soup without water. A cup should be enough to emerge the cooked veggie.


First, wash and slice the vegetable and throw it in a colander to let the water rinse of. Next, chop the shallot thinly.

If you bought minced or ground meat, you are done preparing. Otherwise, it's mincing/grinding time, duh!


Turn the stovetop to medium high and put on a stainless steel pan or pot. Doesn't have to stainless steel, anything smooth without a polymer coating would do. Pour in a touch of cooking oil (or a tiny spoon of lard) and start sautéing the shallot.

As soon as the pot is hot enough, immediately add the meat (don't wait for the shallot to turn golden brown, the slices are thin enough to be caramelized as the meat is seared). You don't need to stir since we don't need evenly cook it right now, but don't let it stick together. Use a spoon or a scraper to break it up and press it down for faster searing.

If you have fish sauce, pour it in after the meat finishes browning to develop even more flavor for a few seconds. Then, deglaze the pot using water and bring it to a boil. Throw the leafs into the pot and get the water boiling again. In case you use salt for seasoning, now is time to sprinkle it in the soup. Let it cook for another two or three minutes (radiant or thermal conductive coil could be switched off and maintain the heat for that duration) and it's ready to serve!

[1] Good Vietnamese food I grow up eating are always from the freshest.
[2] From now on, the amount of each ingredient is listed for one serving.
[3] Outside of the genus, rau ngót is awesome if available.
[4] Or about a dozen bullets in eagle and burger unit.
[5] Not a whole onion, but around the size of your thumb per serving.

Tags: lyf recipe Nguyễn Gia Phong, 2022-09-11


Follow the anchor in an author's name to reply. Please read the rules before commenting.