Chinese Watercress Soup-Nutrient-rich watercress served as soup is popular soup in Chinese household. Sai Yong Choy Tong is suitable for everyday consumption and can be part of confinement food as well.
Sai Yong Choy Tong reminds me of mom. Mom made this soup so often. It’s so simple yet it’s very flavorful. My mom sometimes made it with pork ribs but somehow the sight of pork ribs was a turn off to my brother. So mom usually made it with a little bit of chicken meat. My sister in law will make this soup without any meat at all but with lots of garlic, which is very tasty too.
10 years ago, watercress is unheard of here in the U.S. But now major grocery stores carry watercress as a salad.
Watercress is dirt cheap in Indonesia and I believe everywhere in Southeast Asia. Literally “dirt cheap” because they grow near the “gutter” (at least in Indonesia) and people just pick them up and wash them thoroughly with salt and vinegar before cooking. The watercress here in the U.S. is really clean and “good” looking and of course cultivated, not in a “gutter” lol!
Mom also likes to add red dates and goji berries to the soup. I remember when I was still doing my confinement , mom would make this soup too by adding more ginger, sesame oil, and also a little bit of cooking wine.
If you have not tried watercress soup before, I highly recommend it because it’s very easy to make yet it’s so tasty and nutritious!
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*Recipe is written for 6-quart Instant Pot. Cooking time should remain the same for 8-quart size but will take longer to pressurize. For mini duo (3-quart), I suggest to half the recipe and use the same amount of time to cook*
Chinese Watercress Soup (Sai Yong Choy Tong)
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 300 gr fresh Chinese watercress washed
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed with side of the knife
- 2 slices of 3-inch fresh ginger peeled and lightly bruised to release flavor
- 200 gr boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into small bite size
- 8 red dates
- 1 large tomato quartered
- 10 gr dry squid optional
- ¼ cup goji berries washed
- 1 Tbsp Better than bouillon or 1 cube chicken bouillon
- ½ tsp sugar or more to taste
- Salt to taste
Cooking equipment recommended (use either one):
Cooking with instant pot:
- Place all the ingredients in the insert of instant pot, except for goji berries, salt and sugar. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Wait for 1 minute and then turn the steam handle to venting. Open the lid carefully. Stir in goji berries and the residual heat will soften the berries. Season with salt and sugar to taste.
Cooking on stove-top:
- Place chicken broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Add garlic, ginger, chicken pieces, dry squid (if using), better than bouillon (or bouillon cube) and red dates. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the watercress and tomato, cook for another 10 minutes or until the watercress and its stems are soft. Add goji berries last and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt to your taste. Remove from the heat and serve while it is hot
Cooking with a slow cooker:
- Place all the ingredients in the insert of the slow cooker, except for goji berries, salt and sugar. Adjust the setting to cook on low for 4 hours.
- After that, stir in goji berries and the residual heat will soften the berries. Season with salt and sugar to taste.
You might want to check out:
Soup/Stew Recipe Collection
Instant Pot Recipe Collection
I love watercress so I’m definitely making this! Is this dish good for freezing?
Hi Jayme, this soup is not so suitable for freezing though. Freezing will affect the texture of the veggies.
Hi can i use a slow cooker for this recipe?
Hi Isabel, absolutely. I have included the instruction for a slow cooker!
Loving the look of this recipe. I would like to make it for a friend once she has given birth. I hope you do not mind me asking: Does it reheat well or does it affect the watercress?
Hi Afra, it reheats well.
Thank you so much for you answer! I will certainly try it 🙂
I loved the recipe—it was perfect here in Wisconsin for confinement:) I didn’t have the berries or the dates, so I added carrots. I got the watercress from a local stream (great in spring) and threw in some bacon:) I would never have thought of this so thanks so much for posting the recipe. I also enjoyed the article about post pregnancy confinement and the Chinese cultural significance, so thank you for expanding my horizons:)
Hi Jen, ha..ha…it’s totally fitting for the “confinement” we are going through now. This recipe is totally flexible. I bet you got some nice flavor from the bacon! It’s so great that you can get fresh watercress from your local stream! I’m glad you enjoyed the article about Chinese confinement 🙂 It’s pretty interesting and unusual for sure. Thank you for trying the recipe and for your feedback. I appreciate it!
I love this soup!
Thanks for sharing the recipe..
I know! Reminds me of childhood!