Asian Wedding Soup: Pho Fusion or Confusion?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Have you ever heard of Asian Wedding Soup?  Neither have I.  I did a quick Google search on it and didn’t find anything either.  Actually, I just made the name up because this soup was intended to be an Asian counterpart to traditional Italian wedding soup, which is also a misnomer as that dish has nothing to do with weddings either.  But, it works for me and I’ll tell you why.

Italian wedding soup is a a traditional Neapolitan soup containing greens, little meatballs and pasta suspended in a clear broth.  It gets its name from the harmonious “marriage” of flavors of the ingredients in it.  My Asian Wedding Soup works much the same way.  It also contains greens, little meatballs and pasta suspended in a clear broth.  And, the flavors all marry very well together.  Except that instead of spinach or escarole, this soup contains baby bok choy and Napa cabbage.  Instead of pastina, it has rice noodles.  And, while both soups contain little meatballs, the Asian version is made with pork and minced shrimp, and is flavored with garlic, ginger, scallions, soy and fish sauce.  Even the broth is different, permeated with hints of coriander, ginger, clove and star anise.   So, while the basic components of both soups are the same, they differ greatly in execution.  The broth is based on the Vietnamese Phở Gà.  It’s like a pho fusion or a confused pho, depending on how you look at it.   Either way, I thought the dish was a big hit.


Of course, it is always preferable to use homemade chicken broth, but canned broth works very well in this soup.  And, unless you happen to have a stash of the homemade stuff in your freezer, canned will save you loads of time, making this soup a great choice for a weeknight meal.

As tasty as the broth for this soup is, for me, the real stars of the show are the meatballs.  I wanted them to be very light and almost fluffy, like the filling of a good dumpling.  To achieve the texture I was looking for, I started with some finely ground pork mixed with shrimp that I minced up in the food processor.  I added all of the typical seasonings and an egg to hold it together.  But, my secret weapon for making these meatballs practically float away is silken tofu. I always use it in my dumpling fillings, so I thought it would work well here as well.  Mixing in a little silken tofu softens the meatballs and gives them a slightly creamy quality.  Plus, the tofu has no real flavor of its own, so it soaks up all the other ones, enhancing them.


In addition to the greens, meatballs and noodles, I also added a mix of shiitake, oyster and enoki mushrooms to my soup, as well as some snowpeas and scallions.  I garnished it with fresh bean sprouts, cilantro, red chili slices and lime wedges.  Sadly, Thai basil was nowhere to be found around here, so I had to do without.    It was a lovely, fragrant soup with loud pops of flavor.  The meatballs turned out exactly the way I’d hoped they would.  They were perfect!  My little fusion experiment was a great success!



16 responses to Asian Wedding Soup: Pho Fusion or Confusion?

  1. On January 14, 2011 at 8:51am, Blog is the New black said...

    Fo fusion!!!

  2. On January 14, 2011 at 8:51am, Blog is the New black said...

    Oops, pho!

  3. On January 14, 2011 at 8:51am, Blog is the New black said...

    Pho fusion!

  4. On January 14, 2011 at 9:55am, Rosa said...

    This soup looks perfect! Nourishing and so flavorful.



  5. On January 14, 2011 at 10:31am, Karen@Mignardise said...

    These are all my favorite flavors! Can’t wait to try it.
    Hope you have a great weekend.

  6. On January 14, 2011 at 2:25pm, Rosemary said...

    Creative Asian twist to one of my all-time faves!

  7. On January 15, 2011 at 12:53am, Suzanne said...

    very creative and nice flavors.

  8. On January 15, 2011 at 7:43am, Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

    Works for me! I’d have to swap out the ground pork for ground turkey or salmon, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing. Definitely going on my recipes-to-try list.

    • On January 15, 2011 at 10:46am, Susan said...

      Oh, yes! Salmon would be a great swap for these meatballs. I may try that one too.

  9. On January 16, 2011 at 9:15am, Joan Nova said...

    Brilliant post title!! Good soup, too. :)

  10. On January 17, 2011 at 1:39am, Sandra said...

    Oh wow, amazing recipe, and mouthwatering photos! Fabulous!!!!

  11. On January 18, 2011 at 8:34pm, dena said...

    Thanks for explaining why it’s called Italian Wedding Soup. Always wondered about that.

    • On January 19, 2011 at 8:13am, Susan said...

      You’re welcome. :)

  12. On January 21, 2011 at 12:33pm, Sarah said...

    Hello, love your blog and oh my gosh I LOVE this soup recipe!

    Have you ever blog hopped before? We’d love it if you contributed this awesome soup recipe to our blog hop on favorite soups, it’s a great way to get links back to your site. Really easy too and we’re live until midnight tonight.

    You can check out our blog hop here:


  13. On January 21, 2011 at 5:50pm, Margaret said...

    Oh, Goodness. This looks absolutely fantastic!!

  14. On May 16, 2013 at 5:33pm, KellyK said...

    I came across this blog by typing “Chinese wedding soup” into google. I came up with a similar soup BY ACCIDENT. I was attempting wonton soup and it failed miserably, but after scooping sad soggy wrappers out of the soup I ended up with a wonderful soup that reminded me of Italian wedding soup, but the Asian version.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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