Healing Soups from a Chinese Kitchen: Walnut Soup

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Walnut Soup (hup tul woo) is a favorite snack soup, often eaten in place of dessert. It’s rich and creamy despite the fact that there is no dairy added.

The Chinese believe walnuts resemble the shape of the brain and, thus, are good for nourishing the brain. Walnuts are also associated with longevity, as walnut trees live for hundreds of years. The oven roasting in this recipe brings out the fragrance of the walnuts.

I think Walnut Soup is a wonder because it tastes so good while also being good for you. Be sure to use rice flour and not glutinous rice flour.

• 2 quarts plus 1/2 cup of water
• 2 cups shelled walnuts
• 1/4 cup rice flour
• 1 1/2 slabs brown candy (peen tong), about 3 ounces

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil over high heat. Add the walnuts and boil, uncovered, for 1 minute. Drain well. Spread the walnuts on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Cool on a rack.

2. Place the cooled walnuts in a food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of cold water, and process until almost a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Add another 1/2 cup of cold water and process until almost smooth.

3. In a 2-quart saucepan, whisk the rice flour and 1 cup of water until smooth. Whisk in the walnut puree and the remaining 2 1/2 cups of cold water. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.

4. Cut the brown candy into smaller pieces. Add the brown candy, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. The soup should be the consistency of a light cream soup. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in up to 1/2 cup more water. Serve piping hot (no more than 1 1/2 cups per person).

Adapted with permission from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young (1999). Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Ingredient photographs by Alan Richardson Photography.

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