watercress soup with red dates

Watercress and Red Dates Soup is my wife’s favourite soup. It is a popular soup among the Chinese and is another one of those really simple soup to cook. You can either cook it over the stove, slow cooker or even double boiled. The ingredients used are also pretty simple and the cooking steps are suitable for beginners whilst the nutritional benefits are aplenty. Though some restaurants use the older shoots for cooking this soup, I prefer the younger shoots as they are more tender and chewable-friendly đŸ˜€

To cook this soup, I actually boil the meat (pork) for about 1 to 2 minutes and removed the scum appearing on the surface of the boiling water to get rid of potential “unpleasant” taste. The water is thrown away and the meat is then cooked into the soup. I prefer using bony pork parts (eg. ribs, shoulder, back) for this soup but you can also use chicken parts.

As for the watercress, I will pluck the tender shoots / stem with its leaves intact and discard the main longish stems. The shoots will shrink in size upon cooking by at least 70% in volume. Hence, you might have 3 soup bowl volumes of watercress shoots but upon cooking, you will be left with approximately 1 bowl or less.

This is my recipe for Watercress and Red Dates Soup



  • 400 grammes of plucked watercress shoots with leaves intact
  • 150 grammes of bony pork parts
  • 3 pieces honey dates
  • 7 pieces red dates
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to boil pork parts
  • 1 litre water (for soup)



Bring water to boil. Add bony pork parts and allow to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Skim off scum which appears on surface of water. Remove pork parts and set aside. Throw away the water.

Bring to boil 1 litre of water in a clean pot. Return pork parts and add honey and red dates. Once water begins to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 3 hours to enable the ingredients to impart its full flavour.

15 minutes before serving, increase heat to high, add watercress and boil it for about 5 minutes. Then reduce to medium heat and boil for another 10 minutes before serving. Add salt to taste prior to serving. Usually a pinch of salt would do.

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  1. 1
    September 12th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Normally, I pluck some of the shoots and small green leaves and throw the hardy stems for boiling along with the bones. The greens add later. Sometimes, I added dried squid and red dates. I love this soup too but a no-no when bocor cos it causes heavy bleeding. Also preggie and post-natal moms to avoid as well. Soli hor, I cheong hei a bit cos talking from experience. Watercress can cause blood thinning.

  2. 2
    September 14th, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    lilian : Thanks for the tips Lilian. I do use the hardy stems sometimes but for this recipe, I was kinda lazy. Ha! Ha! I didn’t know about the blood thinning bit 8)

  3. 3
    September 15th, 2007 at 1:55 am

    I also like watercress soup a lot but the last time I bought watercress to cook the soup, the watercress had many bugs leh! After that, I don’t really look forward to cooking the soup…coz it’s hard work to wash the veg.

  4. 4
    September 19th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    arrghh dun throw the woody stems. you can boil them with mutt joe (honey dates) as leung char. add some rock sugar if its not sweet enough.

  5. 5
    September 27th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    tigerfish : You didn’t spray insecticide kah? Wuahahaha! Ehem! Don’t try that.

    babe_kl : Wuah! That’s a very “herbal” sounding drink. First time I heard about it. I suppose it tastes just like the soup?

  6. 6
    Mama BoK
    September 30th, 2007 at 8:55 am

    I cooked using slow cooker.. easy peasy. đŸ˜‰

  7. 7
    October 2nd, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Mama Bok : Yes, it is convenient to use slow cooker to cook this soup.

  8. 8
    June 19th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    pengsan.. so hungry.. i better stop browsing and go back to work.. lol..

  9. 9
    October 15th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I also heart watercress soup for its medicinal properties. However watercress should be eaten in moderation, some herbal writers warn that over-consumed may cause cystitis or other bladder problems due to its strong diuretic properties.

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