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Ju Hua Cai Soup {Chrysanthemum Vegetables}

by HomeNaturallyMade
Published: Last Updated on
Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork {Easy Yummy Healthy}

Ju Hua Cai literally translates as Chrysanthemum Vegetables, is one of the new kinds of green leafy vegetables popular in China. Please don’t confuse Ju Hua Cai {菊花菜} with Tong Hao {茼蒿}, which is a traditional green leafy vegetable. Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salt Pork {菊花菜咸肉汤} is so naturally delicious and easy to make. Perhaps the best quick and simple way to enjoy this superfood green leafy vegetable.

No worries if you don’t have access to Ju Hua Cai. You can use Tong Hao {Crown Daisy} or watercress to substitute.

Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork
Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork

Ju Hua Cai {菊花菜} Fun Facts

Ju Hua Cai {菊花菜} is a perennial green, that is among the earliest to pop up during early spring. The same timeframe when daffodil and peach flowers are quietly while gracefully blooming, which is late March or early April in the Chicago area.

Ju Hua Cai together with Daffodil and Peach Flower in early spring in my backyard
Ju Hua Cai together with Daffodil and Peach Flower in early spring in my front & backyard

Spring Ju Hua Cai is the best, they are so tender and yummy. For the first crop, the first batch I harvest since they popping up in Spring is the tenderest. I typically use a pair of garden scissors to chop off the leafy tips. You can eat both the leafy tips and the stems at this point.

Like a typical green leafy vegetable, they grow back after being chopped off the tips. As time goes by, the green color becomes darker, and both the stems and leaves become tougher. The stems eventually turn into a stick starting late summer. They also grow much taller.

Ju Hua Cai flowers in Autumn, starting mid-November in the Chicago area, with this small but beautiful yellow blossom. The flowers look like miniature sun flowers. To prepare them for the winter, just chop off everything above the ground.

Ju Hua Cai Flowers in early November in my backyard with small yellow blossom
Ju Hua Cai Flowers in Mid November in my backyard with small yellow blossom

It worth mentioning that Ju Hua Cai is extremely low maintenance, with superb drought tolerance and disease resistance capabilities. Perfect for people who have a busy schedule. You really do not have to worry about them. They come back every year and grow strong.

Well, it is simply hard not to fall in love with this adorable vegetable that is so healthy, nutritious and dependable, isn’t it?

Why is Ju Hua Cai {菊花菜} good for you?

Ju Hua Cai is an extremely healthy and nutritious green leafy vegetable. They are rich in vitamins, fibers, and minerals such as iron. They also contain strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances. Because of all these, people believe Ju Hua Cai provides remedies to high blood pressure, constipation, headaches, tired eyes, etc.

All these make Ju Hua Cai a perfect DASH {Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension} food.

Ju Hua Cai and Homemade Salted Pork
Ju Hua Cai {Chrysanthemum Vegetables} and Homemade Salted Pork

What does Ju Hua Cai taste like?

They have a mild minty flavor and taste with a hint of bitterness.

What is the easiest way to enjoy Chrysanthemum Vegetables?

Like Tong Hao, the easiest and best way to enjoy Ju Hua Cai is to add them to a soup. Surely you can make a quick soup using this Tong Hao Soup recipe. However, I found that Ju Hua Cai pairs so well with salted pork to make a quick and tasty soup.

For salted pork, I recommend homemade salted pork for three major reasons. First, it contains natural salt such as Himalayan Pink Salt or sea salt which our bodies digest so much better. Second, it contains much less sodium compared to the store-bought version. Third, homemade salted pork uses quality pork and is free of any additives.

Speaking of all-natural kinds of salted pork, the quality Spanish Serrano, also known as Spanish Ham, is an excellent choice for this soup too.

Ju Hua Cai and Salted Pork
Ju Hua Cai and Salted Pork

How to make Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salt Pork?

The First is to slice the salt pork into thin bite-sizes

Sliced Pre-boiled Salted Pork
Sliced Pre-boiled Salted Pork

For homemade salt pork, if it becomes too dry, you shall boil them 5 minutes to soften them first and then you can cut them into bite-size thin pieces. Read here for a step-by-step guided tutorial on how to make tasty and healthy salt pork at home and how to prepare them for dishes.

The Second is to cook a salt pork broth

Add salted pork slices to a 4 Qt. stockpot, add 2 Qt. of water (8 cups), and bring it to a boil. Please don’t add too much water or the soup may taste too watery.

Once the broth reaches a boil, turn the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

The Third is to add Ju Hua Cai into the Soup

Turn the heat back to medium-high, add Ju Hua Cai, fold them into the soup until they are completely blended, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat immediately. Add a splash of sesame oil and a pinch of salt, if preferred.

By the way, Homemade Salt Pork is not as salty as the store-bought version. This is especially true when you have boiled it for 10 minutes and discarded the boiling water. For this reason, add a pinch of salt to your taste.

Freshly Cooked Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork
Freshly Cooked Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork

All done! Just add freshly made rice to complete a healthy and tasty meal.

Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork {Easy Yummy Healthy}
Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork {Easy Yummy Healthy}
Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork {Easy Yummy Healthy}

Ju Hua Cai {Chrysanthemum vegetables} Soup with Salt Pork Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ju Hua Cai {Chrysanthemum vegetables} Soup with  Salt Pork is so naturally delicious. Perhaps the best quick and easy way to enjoy this superfood green leafy vegetable.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salt pork, homemade or Spanish Jamon Serrano {Spanish Ham}
  • 0.5 lb Ju Hua Cai {Chrysanthemum Vegetables} tips, see notes
  • 2 quarts of water (8 cups ), for boiling the salted pork
  • 2 quarts of water (8 cups), for the soup
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt, to the taste
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, to the taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and rinse Ju Hua Cai well.
    Ju Hua Cai and Salted Pork
  2. If the homemade salt pork is too dry to cut into slices, boil them first for 5 minutes before cutting them into thin bite-size slices. See here for a detailed step-by-step tutorial for making tasty and healthy salt pork at home.
    Sliced Pre-boiled Salted Pork
  3. Dump the water used to boil the salt pork, and rinse the pot.
  4. Add the sliced pre-boiled salt pork slices, along with 8 cups of water. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat back to medium-high, add Ju Hua Cai tips, fold into the broth, and then turn off the heat.
    Freshly Cooked Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork
  7. Add 2 tsp sesame oil and 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt, or to the taste.
  8. All done! Enjoy a naturally delicious and healthy soup.
    Ju Hua Cai Soup with Salted Pork

Notes

You can substitute Ju Hua Cai with other green leafy vegetables such as Tong Hao or Watercress.

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