Salted Pork Bone Soup is a homestyle comfort food recipe that we crave in the wintertime.
The addition of glass noodles makes this an extra satisfying meal (you can use mung bean noodles, as we have here, or sweet potato starch noodles, or even stir in cooked rice!)
If you’ve never enjoyed this soup, it’s a one-pot meal that I bet your family will love.
How to Use Our Salted Pork Bone Recipe
This salted pork bone soup is a winning recipe to make use of the Chinese Salted Pork Bones we posted a couple weeks ago.
While you could use regular unsalted pork neck bones for this recipe, the salted pork bones add so much flavor in such little time—you need to try it to believe it!
A “Milky” Stock
I have a fancy cooking tip for you! (Ooh, ahh…)
To elevate the flavor of your soup and achieve a milky stock, there are two methods for preparing the pork bones. You can roast the pork bones in the oven for 45 minutes at 400°F/200°C until lightly browned (this applies to salted or unsalted bones).
You can also pan-fry them until they’re lightly browned on all sides. That’s what I usually do, as it’s a much faster method. Browning the meat and boiling it at a higher temperature helps produce a creamy, rich stock, similar to what you might see in a bowl of Japanese ramen.
Optional Step: Add Cantonese Dried Seafood for More Flavor
To elevate the flavor even MORE, some Cantonese families like to add a little bit of dried seafood to their soups. Dried scallops, squid, or conch are all good options for adding extra umami. See below for instructions on how to add seafood.
While Bill always enjoys the flavor of dried seafood, the Shanghainese in me likes to keep this soup simple.
If using dried seafood, follow these steps:
Rinse the dried seafood and drain. Transfer to a bowl, and soak in just enough water to submerge it. Soak for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Before adding the seafood to the soup, cut it into smaller pieces to extract maximum flavor. Add the soaking liquid to the soup along with the seafood (it can be added along with the ginger in the recipe).
Heat your soup pot over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to evenly coat the bottom, then add the salted pork bones in a single layer.
Brown the bones on all sides until light golden brown, taking care not to burn them, which will cause your soup to taste bitter.
While the meat is browning, boil the water in a separate pot. Once the meat is done, carefully pour the boiling water into the soup pot.
Increase the heat to high to quickly bring the soup to a boil. Add the ginger slices, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If using, add the soaked dried squid, conch, or dried scallops plus the liquid it soaked in along with the ginger.)
Soak the mung bean vermicelli noodles or sweet potato glass noodles, submerging them in cool water so they soften as the soup cooks. They won’t need to cook for very long. (We used mung bean vermicelli, shown below.)
Wash the napa cabbage (or leafy green of your choice). Shake off excess water, and cut the cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
After 1 ½ to 2 hours of cooking, add the napa cabbage. Increase the heat to high to bring the soup to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 5 minutes until the cabbage is tender (or if using a more tender leafy green like bok choy, cook for 1 to 2 minutes).
*If you are using cooked rice or thicker potato starch noodles instead of mung bean vermicelli noodles, this is the time to add that.
Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Before serving, add the mung bean vermicelli, scallion, and cilantro. Bring it to boil and serve.