In early autumn, we start feeling the chill of western winds that bring with them dryness and discomfort. This is prime time for soup: warm and nourishing, a perfect comfort food for those nippy days.
As the weather cools, a cup of this sweet soup makes for a comforting afternoon treat. The ‘four treasures’ in the recipe refer to lotus seeds, white fungus, red dates, and longan — all easy to find, nutrient-rich, and packed with health benefits. Combined into a smooth, delicately sweet soup, the four ingredients add up to a dish that tastes as good as it is good for you.
Ingredients (about 2 servings):
¼ cup (25g) dried lotus seeds
½ cup (10g) dried white fungus (snow fungus)
10 red dates, medium size (15g)
2 tbsp (20g) dried longan berries
1⅔ tbsp (25g) brown sugar
1. Soak the dried lotus seeds in 500 ml of hot water for one hour. Soak the dried white fungus in cold water for two hours, cut into small pieces (about 2 cm), and remove the hard stem. Place the soaked lotus seeds and white fungus in the freezer for 3 hours or more (to further soften them).
2. Bring 1,100 ml of water to a boil. Add in the frozen lotus seeds and white fungus and bring back to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes. Add the red dates and dried longan and bring to a boil on high heat, then turn heat back to low and simmer 10 minutes. Add the sugar.
The lotus seeds and white fungus need to be cooked for at least two hours or more to soften and release collagen. Dried lotus seeds will not soften if they are soaked in cold water or cooked with sugar (red dates and longan also contain sugar).
Photography by Hsuyi Shi