Lotus Root Soup Recipe (Canh Cu Sen)
The authentic recipe for lotus soup, called canh củ sen in Vietnamese, calls for pork broth, dried scallops, dried octopus and various dried fruits and nuts. With my family being mostly vegetarian, I adapted it to fit everyone's diet.
I tried to mimic the meaty broth with Okinawan potatoes (purple-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes) and preserved daikon radish and flavored it with the usual dried black dates called jujube (or plum), dried South almonds, peanuts and gojee berries. Lastly, fresh lotus root is sliced thinly and added to the broth until softened. Some people like it on the crunchy side, but I prefer it very tender.
Yields: 8 servings2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
1 (8-ounce) piece firm tofu
1 (12-ounce) piece fresh lotus root (2 attached segments), peeled and thinly sliced
1 yellow onion
1 Okinawan potato
2 pieces preserved radish
2 tablespoons dried gojee berries
1 (6-ounce) package dried south almonds
5 dried jujubes
1 chunk rock sugar (about 2 ounces), (to taste)
1 tablespoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
2 tablespoons peanuts, halved
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
Preparing the stock:
Peel and dice the Okinawan potato into small pieces.
Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a roaring boil. Add the preserved radish, onion, dried almonds and dried jujubes to the pot. Bring the liquid back to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes. Gather a few potato pieces, then strain the broth (discard the solids) and return to the pot.
Peel the lotus root and thinly slice.
Bring the broth back to a boil. Add the lotus root and gojee berries. Cook over low heat for 3 hours until softened. Bring the broth back one more time to a boil. Season with mushroom seasoning salt. Lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Adjust seasoning by adding rock sugar (to taste). Stir well, add the peanuts, return the sweet potatoes and cook for an additional 10 minutes. The broth is ready. Turn off the heat. Cover and let the soup sit for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with black pepper.
I purposely do not salt the broth at the beginning, but wait to add salt until the potato is fully cooked and maintains a nice texture.
You can find both rock sugar and dried jujubes (also called black dates or táo tầu in Vietnamese) in most Asian markets. Dried jujubes are sold in 6-ounce packages.
If you don't have dried jujubes and dried gojees (called kỷ tử in Vietnamese), you could replace them with more rock sugar or 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
You can find store-bought, 14-ounce packages of preserved radish. It's excellent for making vegetarian broth.
You can find the ingredients listed above in most Asian markets.
You can also use a slow cooker to make controlling the heat during the cooking process a simple task.Published By: on April 18, 2013.