winter melon soup with clams

winter melon soup with clams

It’s starting to get colder and colder in New York.  This means less going out for meals, and more staying in to cook.  It’s a great money saver in that the heat from cooking usually helps warm the house, plus it’s a bonus for the readers because it means frequent posts.  The weather is cool and crisp, or as my roommate would describe it, “brrr, yuck, ouch, ahh, splat!”  [not sure what splat is….but ok].  Regardless if I don’t know what splat is describing, this weather is for sure good for some soup.  It’s one of my favorite things for the winter season.  Cooking up a soup on the stove and eating it with my meal, is not only warming but also brings me back to family dinners.  No matter how hot the Southern California weather was, my Mom was sure to cook a pot of soup every meal.  While kids across America where drinking soda or juice with their meal, I was drinking soup.

Most of the soup I had growing up was meat based, but there were 2 soups that my mom would deviate from beef, pork, or chicken: miso soup and winter melon soup.  They were all good, but the winter melon soup had a ginger base so it was spicy and gave off an internal heat that heated you from the inside out.  It’s an extremely easy soup and only has four ingredients: winter melon, ginger, clam, and water.  How hard is that?  Winter melon is tough to describe.  It’s a large squash that is green and slightly waxy on the outside but produces a spongy, white flesh.  It grows primarily in warm and sunny weather, but lasts a long time when uncut.  I think that’s why it’s called winter melon.  People would grow it in the summer, and then keep it until the winter to ensure fresh produce for the cold season.  It’s like the super endurance melon.  The superman of melons.  Some melons can stay fresh for up to seven or eight months, some up to a year.  However, once cut, you should use the flesh as soon as possible.  The kryptonite of the melon.  A knife.  Winter melon is a pretty amazing melon.

This soup is crisp, clean, and produces a delicious broth.  Most of the cooking time is to soften the melon and let the flavor of the melon and ginger release into the water and create a broth.  The last 30 minutes of cooking is really to add the clams, cook them, and let the little shellfish release the juices to add a hint of ocean to the broth.  It adds an umami flavor to the brother to really help balance it out.   The end result is a slightly sweet, savory, and spicy broth that does nothing but warm your body and make you smile.  So, head to the nearest Asian market and pick up a winter melon, ginger, and clams and make this crisp and refreshing broth.


17 cubes of winter melon, about 1-2 inches

12 small clams, i.e. little neck

¼ cup ginger, julienne

5 cups cold water

2 tsp salt


fill large soup pot with winter melon and ginger

pour 4 cups of cold water until water barely covers the top

heat till boiling on high

turn down heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes

add remaining water and clams

simmer for 30 minutes

discard any unopened clams

serve with ground white pepper (optional)

-serves 6-


1 Response to “winter melon soup with clams”

  1. 1 J.C.
    January 12, 2010 at 9:12 am

    The winter melon is called “Dong Gua” in Korean, meaning winter cucumber. Well, I didn’t know that, until Scott after his research told me that. ^^ The soup was so good. It’s so light yet tasteful – ginger does the magic here and the winter melon also gives the chewable substance. I liked those big clams (it was not so little!). Thank you, Scott. You are the best.

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