Less is more

This is the soup of my childhood.

To make it, you need pork bones, which are surprisingly hard to find sometimes, even at adventurous hipster butcher shops and other fancy grocers that cater to that same clientele (types like me). I pretty much never see them at my local Whole Paycheck, but there they were this week, and on sale! (Like my mom, I love pork bones, and I love a good sale.) Neck bones are best, but the shank and assorted bits in this package suited my purposes just fine.

You put the bones in a pot with cold water to cover and bring to a boil, then discard all the liquid and fill again with cold water to an inch or so above the bones. Bring back to a boil (and here you could discard and refill again, as Mom prefers, but I haven’t reached that level of maturity yet), then lower heat to simmer and allow to cook for about 5, 5.5 hours. If I start this late at night, I might cook it partway, cool it overnight on the stove, and then start it up again in the morning. Skim every hour. (If you’re like me, you might chuck in the bones from the pan-roasted pork chops you had for dinner.)

Once the stock has reached a milkier, more substantial appearance, you can remove most of the bones. Feel free to leave any that are still holding onto some meat. Cut up some daikon and carrots into large chunks and add to the pot. The daikon is not optional — there’s something about it that fits the pork broth just so, enhancing and balancing it in all the right ways. I added tomatoes too, because that’s what Mom usually does (though I felt really guilty about buying tomatoes in March), and shiitakes, because I had some and they seemed a reasonable complement (but turn out to be not really necessary, fyi). That all cooks for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the daikon is translucent and soft.

Salt, pepper — especially white pepper — and done.

Note: This soup tastes best from a Chinese soup spoon.

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