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Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Traditional Chinese Beef Soup with Vegetables

by HomeNaturallyMade
Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Shanghai-Style Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤} is a traditional popular Borscht Soup in China. It features tender beef along with cabbage, potato, and onion in a delicious tomato reddish soup. Such satisfyingly yummy and super nutritious beef and vegetable soup.

Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Sou
Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Sou

What is Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤}?

Luo Song {罗宋} is an approximate sound for Russia in Chinese, or I should say Shanghai dialect. It alludes to the fact that this yummy soup is an adaption of Russian-Style Borscht Soup.

Legend says during the Russian Revolution, lots of Russians fled to Shanghai, a bustling town at the time and today. Along came the Russian Style Borscht Soup. Over time, locals adapted this soup to a Shanghai-style Luo Song Tang. The adaption is to fit for the preferred local taste, of course. But it also has to do with locally available resources.

For instance, beet was not a common vegetable in the Shanghai area then. Therefore, Shanghai-style Luo Song Tang uses tomato puree or tomato paste to color the soup along with carrots instead. As a result, the classic Shanghai-style Luo Song Tang looks more like orange/tomato red, vs. magenta red.

Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}
Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Also, beef is not a primary meat choice in the Shanghai area. Fresh beef was very rare at the time. Therefore Harbin Red Sausage became a popular meat option for Shanghai-style Luo Song Tang in old days.

What is Harbin Red Sausage {Harbin Hong Shang 哈尔滨红肠}?

Harbin Red Sausage is a smoked pork sausage with a reddish hue, originated in Harbin, a beautiful city in northeastern China. Harbin is the capital of China’s Heilongjiang Province, which borders Russia. It is well-known for its breath-taking ice carving festival.

During the Russian Revolution, while lots of Russians fled to Shanghai, many Russians, Poles, and Lithuanians fled to Harbin and made a home there. A Russian immigrant opened a sausage shop in Harbin in the early 1900s, which ultimately became the origin of the extremely popular Harbin Red Sausage {Harbin Hong Shang 哈尔滨红肠} across China.

Harbin Red Sausage is truly iconic in China. For people who grew up in the 70s, it meant sweet memories of yummy food.

How to make a delicious Shanghai-style Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤}?

Tip No.1 is to prepare and tenderize beef properly for the soup

For juicy and tender beef, preparing the beef properly is the key. It involves cutting beef in certain ways, soaking the beef in cold water, marinate it with a tiny baking soda along with other condiments including cooking oil.

Last but not least is to sear and cook the beef in a hard-anodized fry pan in small batches beforehand for the soup. Read here for a detailed tutorial on how to prepare and tenderize the beef.

By the way, once you have learned this trick, you can use it to cook all kinds of delicious food featuring beef. Mongolian Beef, Beef with Broccoli, Beef with Green Pepper, just to name a few.

how to prepare and tenderize beef for cooking?
how to prepare and tenderize beef for cooking?

Tip No.2 is to use homemade Tomato Puree if possible

It is easier than you thought to make a wholesome tomato puree at home. You just need the right tools – a quality blender and a coarse mesh stainless steel colander.

homemade tomato puree {easy healthy way}
Homemade Tomato Puree

Why coarse instead of fine mesh for the strainer? Because you only want to filter out the tomato skins and seeds, but keep as all other goodies of tomato such as tomato pulp. The wholesome tomato pulp truly makes this Luo Song Tang naturally delicious and healthy.

What’s more, you don’t have to add additional flour to the soup in order to thicken the soup, a trick commonly used for making Luo Song Tang. When you use homemade tomato puree, the tomato pulp will naturally thicken the soup yummily.

Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}
Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-style Borscht Soup}

It is worth mentioning that you can use frozen tomatoes straight from the freezer to make a great tomato puree. If you like to garden and have loads of tomatoes during harvest season. You can quickly freeze them as they are and then turn them into a homemade organic tomato puree. It is perhaps the easiest and most versatile way of preserving tomatoes for later use.

Tomato puree is great to make soup or dishes such as Gu Lao Rou {Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple}. Read here for a guided recipe.

Tip No. 3 is to stir fry vegetables to wilt first before boiling

Add a tiny bit of oil into a cast iron dutch oven, which is great for making soup by the way, and then add half of the chopped red onion. Stir fry for about 15 seconds till fragrant, and add the rest of the chopped vegetables. Stir Fry for about 3 minutes or till cabbage and red onion wilt.

This is one of the secrets of having a tasty vegetable and soup.

Stir Fry cabbage and other vegetables in a cast iron dutch oven

Last but not least is cook the soup properly and use the different heat modes throughout the cooking

After you have stir-fried the vegetables, add the tomato puree and water, and bring it to a boil.

After it reaches a boil, turn the heat to simmer, add the cooked beef, and simmer for 20 minutes. This will allow the beef to infuse the soup gradually.

Following that, add the salt and black pepper, mix well and turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes to bubble the soup and cream just enough for the potatoes. Finally, turn the heat to low for the last final 5 minutes of cooking to wrap up cooking the beautiful and yummy Beef Soup with vegetables.

Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}
Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-style Borscht Soup}

This way, all vegetables are cooked softly but still remains a satisfying bite texture. Also, beef remains super tender and delicious.

Enjoy an amazingly delicious Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤}!

Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤 Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Shanghai-Style Luo Song Tang {罗宋汤} is a traditional popular Borscht Soup in China. It features tender beef and vegetable assortment in a satisfyingly delicious reddish soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beef, beef chuck or top round
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, Himalayan pink salt, or sea salt
  • 4 cups tomato puree, homemade preferred, see notes
  • 6 cups of water

For Preparing the Beef:

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
  • 1 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 1 tsp cane sugar, organic unrefined preferred
  • 1/4 tsp salt, Himalayan pink salt, or sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Arrowroot Flour
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil, such as avocado oil or canola oil
  • One small piece of ginger, organic preferred, minced
  • 1 stalk of green onion, chopped

For Vegetable Assortment:

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 10 oz, cabbage, or slightly over 0.5 lb
  • 12 oz. potatoes, or a little over 0.5 lb
  • 10 oz. red onion, or slightly over 0.5 lb
  • 7 oz. carrots, or slightly under 0.5 lb

Instructions

Prepare Tomato Puree in advance:

See here for a detailed guided recipe.
strain cooked tomatoes

Prepare the Vegetables:

  • Wash and rinse all vegetables. Peel potato, carrots, and red onion.
  • Cut cabbage into bite sizes and separate the layers into individual pieces. Cut potato carrots, red onion into small cubes or pieces.
    chopped cabbage, potato, carrots and red onion

Prepare the Beef:

  • See here for a detailed guided recipe on how to prepare and tenderize the beef.
  • Cut the beef across the grain, soak in cold water and then marinate with a tiny baking soda along with Shaoxing Wine, naturally aged soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar, arrowroot flour, and canola oil.
    Prepare and tenderize beef - Marinating Beef
  • Sear the marinated beef in two batches using a hard-anodized fry pan. See here for more details, and set aside.
    Sear marinated beef in a hard anodized fry pan
    freshly seared beef on a plate

Cook the Soup:

  • Turn the heat to medium-high and heat an 8 qt cast iron dutch oven for 1 minute.
  • Spray 1 tsp canola oil and then add half of the chopped red onion, stir fry for about 30 seconds or till fragrant.
    Stir fry chopped red onion in a cast iron dutch oven
  • Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and stir fry for 3 minutes, or till cabbage and red onion wilted.
    Stir Fry cabbage and other vegetables in a cast iron dutch oven
  • Pour in the tomato puree and water. Mix well, cover it with the lid and bring to a boil, about 10 minutes.
    Cooking Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-style Borscht Soup} in the dutch oven
  • Add the seared beef, turn the heat to simmer, stir and mix well and cook for 20 minutes.
    Cooking Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-style Borscht Soup} in the dutch oven
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper to the pot, stir, and mix well.
  • Turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, and then turn the heat to simmer and cook for the final 5 minutes.
  • All done! Enjoy a delicious and hearty Luo Song Tang.
    Luo Song Tang {Shanghai-Style Borscht Soup}

Notes

  • This recipe makes a full of 8-Qt cast iron dutch oven Luo Song Tang.
  • Pay attention to the overall volume of the vegetables used and the ratio among the four vegetables.
  • Homemade Tomato Puree is the best for this soup. See here a detailed guided recipe on how to make it easy and healthy at home.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 1116mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 26g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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