Yi Jun Loh’s One-Pot Coconut Water ABC Soup

January 23, 2019

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Writer and Food52 contributor Yi Jun Loh’s mom discovered this sleight-of-hand trick when his sister Jia went vegetarian, and the long-simmered chicken or pork-based soups that fed their family in Malaysia needed to be rethunk. Jun, a reformed chemical engineer who trained at culinary school and restaurants like Blue Hill, recognized the brilliance of this substitution, experimented with it further himself, and then—lucky us!—sent it our way. “There's clearly some sort of liquid magic happening here,” Jun wrote. “Sure, it does taste slightly different, but the depth and richness it adds to the broth simply blows my mind.” You can use this trick to quickly give a backbone to any soup or stew, but this ABC soup—the Malaysian version of the classic simple chicken soup—is a very good place to start. Adapted very slightly from Yi Jun Loh of the blog Jun & Tonic.

Genius Recipes

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 8 cups (~2 litres) coconut water, divided
  • 3 medium white or yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (we especially like starchy Russets for this)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium tomatoes, quartered (drained canned tomatoes are fine)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed white peppercorn, or to taste
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In a deep pot, combine the water, half of the coconut water (4 cups), and salt. Bring this to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer.
  2. Add the onions and potatoes into the pot, and let it simmer on very low heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Then, add in the carrots and tomatoes, and let it simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables should all be close to falling apart at this point, which is perfect; it really adds to that heart-warming, rustic texture of soup that we just love!
  3. Add in the crushed peppercorns and the rest of the coconut water, and bring the soup to a final boil. Season to taste with salt, and serve piping hot.
  4. Let your heart and soul be full!

More Great Recipes:
Soup|Malaysian|Coconut|One-Pot Wonders|Simmer|Quick and Easy|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Serves a Crowd|Vegetarian|Vegan|On the Cheap

Reviews (9) Questions (0)

9 Reviews

Lynn February 2, 2019
I was skeptical....this looked too easy and fast with too few ingredients to have the nuance of flavor and complexity promised. What an awesome surprise! This soup does seem magical, so very rich and complex. This is the PERFECT gift to bring to a sick vegan friend, or to serve to anyone. It is delicious, rich, flavorful and comforting. This soup practically makes itself. Thank you for this truly genius recipe. (I used one very jumbo yellow onion and 4 LARGE russet potatoes. The yield was 7-8 servings).
 
Grace M. January 28, 2019
I love how you can taste the subtlety of the coconut water's aroma infused in the ingredients which are all so healthful and leave you feeling whole, comforted and full. The crushed white peppercorns are what really give a kick to the soup though; I added in a little more than suggested to produce a really refreshing heat. No more canned chicken noodle soup! I'm making Yi Jun Loh's soup from here on when I feel under the weather (or not..would enjoy it anytime, really.)
 
Stuart January 27, 2019
I loved the simplicity of this recipe. Just a few everyday items with minimal prep time. The broth is dreamy. Next time I’ll use less onion and more potato, and I’ll cut the onion into eights instead of quarters.
 
George R. January 23, 2019
The soup looks great! I have been searching for exactly the kind of glass pitch/beaker you used in the video. Can you share where I can buy one?
 
Kristen M. January 23, 2019
Hi George, our art director is always collecting vintage props/kitchen gear like this. I would keep an eye out in flea markets and antique shops, or you could try searching on Etsy—this one looks kind of similar: https://www.etsy.com/listing/639969506/kodak-beaker-measuring-glass-32oz
 
Claudia A. January 23, 2019
Might one strain and freeze this as stock? Or is it meant only to be enjoyed fresh?
 
Kristen M. January 23, 2019
I think the fresh flavor of the coconut water might diminish somewhat, but the soup should still taste good after freezing (it was still great after a few days in the fridge). But I also wouldn't want to lose the vegetables cooked in it by straining—they're not simmered long enough to lose their flavor and they're very comforting.
 
AK January 23, 2019
Does the final soup taste at all like coconut?
 
Kristen M. January 23, 2019
Not strongly. It tastes a bit like coconut water, if you've tasted that before, but the salt, simmered vegetables, and white pepper balance it very nicely.