When we say Vietnamese soup, you say pho, right? We would expect that 9 out of 10 times–with the other soup being bun bo hue given the proliferation of pho restaurants across the US. But in actuality, we would suggest that most soups eaten in Vietnam on a daily basis are actually not pho or bun bo hue, but home style soups eaten as part of a larger family meal, of which there are as many varieties as there are different vegetables used in Vietnamese cuisine. For almost any vegetable you see in the Vietnamese market, we can think of at least one home style soup where it’s a key ingredient, with few rare exceptions. For example, edible chrysanthemum or tan o is a favorite soup vegetable. Taro also makes a wonderful, milky, rich soup. Bittermelon soup is a classic family favorite. Just boiling rau muong (Vietnamese water spinach) with some ngo om (rice paddy herb) paddy and tomatoes makes for quick and simple soup. We can go on and on, but in this post we want to feature dill and mustard greens–pickled mustard greens to be exact. This seemingly strange combination makes for a deliciously fragrant and tangy soup called canh dua chua thia la, found in many Vietnamese homes but never in any restaurants.
Typical home style meals consists of a protein, for example spare ribs. Some of the ribs would be saved to make a simple stock. Add fresh dill and tomatoes from the market and combined it with pickled mustard greens, a staple (like kimchi is to Korean families) in many Vietnamese households, and within no time you have a soup to go with the spare ribs. This type of meal planning is fast, efficient, and best of all delicious!
So if you grew up in a Vietnamese household or if you are fortunate to travel in the small restaurants in rural towns of Vietnam, you may have eaten a soup like this. The sour tang from the pickled mustard greens and tomatoes, balanced by succulent spare ribs and freshness of dill, is one of our favorite simple daily soups to enjoy that’s not named pho.
Canh Dua Chua Thia La - Pickled Mustard Green and Dill Soup
Total Time: 30 min
6 cups chicken broth or water
1/2 tb salt
1/2 lb pork spare ribs cut in 1 inch pieces (can substitute with chicken)
1.5 cups pickled mustard greens
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 bunch of dill, chopped in 1 inch segments
1 birds eye chili, chopped (optional)
In medium size stock pot, add stock/water, salt, and with pork ribs and bring to boil and reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes to soften the ribs (if using chicken, this isn't necessary). Skim off any gunk.
Add tomatoes and when slightly softened after a few minutes, add the pickled mustard greens, pickling juice and all. Season to taste with additional salt or fish sauce and optional chili. Finally, add the chopped dill and remove from heat. Serve with jasmine rice and protein such as our sweet and sour spare ribs.
This is our entry to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of A Food Lovers Journey and yours truly! This month’s host is also Anh of A Food Lovers Journey. Submit any Vietnamese food related posts to Anh at anhnguyen118 [at] gmail [dot] com by Sunday April 10 7 pm pacific time. For more information on how you can participate, visit Delicious Vietnam information page.