Through recipes that use time-honored medicinal ingredients, A Tradition of Soup provides a fascinating narrative of the Southern Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in large numbers during the last half century, the struggles they faced and overcame, and the soups they used to heal and nourish their bodies.
Following the Chinese approach to health, Teresa Chen, who was born into a family of food connoisseurs and raised by a gourmet cook, groups the recipes by seasons and health concerns according to Cantonese taxonomy: tong (simple broths, soups, and stews), geng (thickened soups), juk (rice soups or porridges), and tong shui (sweet soups), as well as noodle soups, wonton and dumpling soups, and vegetable soups. Also focusing on dahn (steaming) and louhfo (slow-cooking) soups associated with good health, the book features fresh, natural, and seasonal food. A Tradition of Soup highlights recipes that serve a wide range of purposes, from gaining or shedding weight to healing acne and preventing wrinkles. While some ingredients may seem foreign to Western readers, most are available in Chinese grocery stores.
To help readers identify and procure these items, Chen provides a beautifully photographed ingredients glossary complete with Chinese names, pronunciation, and detailed descriptions.
“For soup enthusiasts like me, this book is simply invaluable.”
—From the foreword by Martin Yan, bestselling author and host of Yan Can Cook
“[Teresa Chen’s] new book, A Tradition of Soup: Flavors from China’s Pearl River Delta, a collection of 144 recipes from southern China, is the result of years invested in health education…The recipes, intermingled with information about southern Chinese culture, traditional medicine, and immigration history, are grouped by seasons and health concerns, including gaining and losing weight, getting rid of acne, and preventing wrinkles.”
“Chen lays out the basics of nearly the whole of Chinese gastronomy…[she] has made it safe for me to walk into any Chinese pharmacopeia and conduct myself well.”
—Olivia Wu, The Art of Eating Magazine
“I've often wondered why our family had so humble a name: Hong (meaning soup). Thanks to Teresa Chen, I now understand that soup has as long and powerful a tradition as tea. Soup is a healing medicine, and soup sustains and extends life. Soup has its myths and stories. And soup made its way from China to America, from the Pearl River Delta to the San Joaquin Delta, in the cookery of immigrants such as my mother.”
—Maxine Hong Kingston, author of the award-winning The Woman Warrior and recipient of the 2008 National Books Awards’ Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
“While there are dozens of superb cookbooks that translate Cantonese cooking for Americans, none take Teresa Chen’s expansive medicinal approach to food. I recommend this book not only to those interested in health, but also to those who want to discover a whole new and thoroughly fascinating branch of Chinese cuisine.”
—Ken Albala, professor of history at University of the Pacific and award-winning author of Beans: A History
“A Tradition of Soup is a treasure chest of Cantonese soup recipes generously garnished with cultural gems, ancient wisdom, beautiful pictures, and lucid prose.”
—Brian Chee C. Loh, OMD, LAc, president of the American Institute of Chinese Medicine and the Association of World Traditional Medicine
“Unlike many Asian cookbooks, [Chen] doesn't include easily-found substitutes available in all grocery stores. Rather, arguing that traditional ingredients are now relatively easy to find or order through a website, she presents classic recipes using traditional ingredients.”
—Lindsay McSweeney, Suite101.com
“A Tradition of Soup focuses on the place of soup in Cantonese cuisine, specifically around the rich and fertile Pearl River Delta in China, and what might be called its sister culture in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California, where so many Chinese immigrants ended up after fleeing war, repression or famine in their own country.”
“Much more than a cookbook, A Tradition of Soup introduces us to TCM nutritional theory, the historical connections between the Pearl River Delta and the San Joaquin Delta, and the stories of the Cantonese immigrants who brought the culinary treasures from their homeland to the United States. … A Tradition of Soup presents the idea that soup, and food in general, are key components of building wellness and preventing disease. … In looking through the mouthwatering [recipe chapter], one cannot help but wonder when we can start cooking!”
—American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Campus Forum
“If you love soups, the recipes [in A Tradition of Soup] are a treasure trove. … The book has classic cultural gems and great valuable and usable information. … Do not know how we managed without it, but we do know that we recommend it without hesitation.”
—Flavor & Fortune