Friday, August 3, 2012

Opo Squash Soup

All of the Asian markets in Little Rock have this squash.  It's amazing how delicious one or two of these inexpensive things can be when combined with some flavorful broth and a little bit of protein.  My mom made this kind of soup for me as I was growing up, so it makes me happy that Gianna loves it too.  Now my parents are growing the squash, and it's great to get to eat homegrown veggies!
Pretty, huh?  We've always called this melon soup because we thought it resembled a melon.  In the Asian stores, things are often not labeled, you see.  But I did some Googling, and I found that it's called opo squash.  Sometimes an Asian market may carry some fuzzy squash, and the outcome when cooked the same is the same.  But getting opo squash without the fuzzy outside is better to me.
You can slice it pretty thinly.  Once it's cooked, it's just a translucent vegetable that soaks up all the flavors around it while disintegrating in your mouth.  The onions, garlic, and pork give the broth all the flavor that's needed, with a little bit more seasoning to keep it from being bland.
This is my favorite thing to do.  I love to capture the beauty of food.  I went home to Nashville to see my parents, and my mom was cutting up fresh herbs.  My sister - in - law Carla came in and said, "Don't you just love the smell of fresh herbs?"  I told her that I was just thinking the same thing!  Fresh herbs can penetrate your thoughts and give you a moment to enjoy, be happy.  Especially fresh cut green onions and cilantro.  Having those ingredients for this soup is essential.
  • 2 medium - sized opo squash, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 8 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 6 cups water
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

  1. Heat a light film of oil in a medium stockpot until hot, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the diced green onions.  Add garlic.
  3. Stir fry until fragrant, then add the pork.  Don't burn the garlic!
  4. Brown the pork, then add the water.  Bring up to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat, and cook the pork 15 minutes.  Bring back up to a boil, then add the sliced squash. 
  6. Once the water is back up to a boil, reduce heat, and cover for about 15 more minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, until the shrimp are done, about 3 minutes.  Garnish with additional chopped green onions and cilantro.  Season with fish sauce to taste.
Scoop up a big spoonful of the squash with some ground pork, shrimp, and fresh herbs.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  And yum, what a simple dish!  Even great in the summer time.


  1. I have been looking for this recipe!! Thank you!

  2. this soup is so delicious.i add some habanero pepper and red chile powder to it tp give it a kick sometimes, but it is wonderul as is. today i added a leek to the onions and garlic and slow cooked before adding the pork and it worked well. thank you for this recipe.