This winter melon meatball soup recipe is a simple side dish you will love, especially for National Meatball Day (March 9th). It’s healthy, wholesome, delicious, and easy to make— simply the best Chinese comfort food.
What Is a Winter Melon?
Winter melon, also known as winter gourd or ash gourd, is a type of oblong fruit. It is considered an edible vegetable in Asia, where the fruit originated.
In Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine, winter melon is a popular ingredient for making comforting soups or stews. That’s the inspiration for today’s winter melon meatball soup recipe.
Is Winter Melon Meatball Soup Healthy?
Yes, our winter melon meatball soup is healthy. Here’s why:
We measure our ingredients so that we can calculate the nutritional value of the dish. We want to make sure that calorie, sodium, and saturated fat intake per serving is just right.
That is why the amount of saturated fat and sodium in this recipe adheres to our healthy eating guidelines.
In addition, winter melon is a low-carb, low-calorie ingredient that has many health benefits. One of which is promoting a healthy digestive system and reducing inflammation.
Calories in Meatball Soup
There are only 143 calories in one serving of our winter melon meatball soup recipe. This is rather low for a side dish.
The portion size is a small bowl of soup with winter melon chunks and a few meatballs. This is not enough to keep you full either.
Pair the soup with a main dish to get enough calories to fuel your body and make you feel full.
How to Make Winter Melon Meatball Soup Recipe
Step 1: Marinate the meat
In a bowl, combine the ground pork, salt, soy sauce, sugar, pepper, ginger, scallions, shallots, canola oil, and cooking wine. Mix well and set aside.
Step 2: Cook the vegetables
Add unsalted chicken broth to a large pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add winter melon, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Cook the meat
Use a spoon to scoop out meatballs and drop them into the soup. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
Step 4: Finishing touches
Add sesame oil and cilantro to the soup and stir.
Step 5: Serve
Transfer to a large serving bowl and serve immediately.
Tips for Making Winter Melon Meatball Soup Recipe
The first tip we can give you is to use a measuring spoon to form meatballs.
Whether you’re making them big or small for any dish, you want them to be the same size. This will help the meatballs cook evenly and at the same rate.
If you don’t have a measuring spoon, you can use your hands. Be sure to wash them before you handle your food.
You can use any spoon you have to scoop out the meat, eyeballing it to get the relatively same amount. Then form the meatballs by rolling them in the palms of your hands.
To prevent the ground meat from sticking to your hands, wet your hands slightly with water. Or you can brush a bit of oil on the palms of your hands.
What Goes with Winter Melon Meatball Soup
Here are a few ingredients that pair well with our winter melon meatball soup recipe:
Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that is often used in many Chinese dishes. So naturally it will go well with our soup as well.
You can use either green or purple cabbage for this recipe. Here’s how you prepare cabbage for the soup:
- Remove a few bruised leaves on the first outer layer of the cabbage.
- Turn the cabbage so that it sits up on your cutting board. Use a sharp knife and cut it straight down the middle in half.
- Place one half flat side down and cut it in half lengthwise to create quarters. Make a diagonal cut to remove the core.
- Then cut the quarter in half lengthwise to make eighths. Cut them into chunks, about the same size as your winter melon chunks.
- Use your hands and break up the cabbage layers. And they’re ready to cook.
You can add them to your soup and cook along with the winter melons. They cook at about the same rate as the melons.
Like cabbage, spinach is a versatile ingredient that is easy to prepare and can go well with soup. All you have to do is remove the stems of the spinach, gather the leaves, and cut in half.
Unlike cabbage, spinach takes minutes to cook so they’re the second-to-last ingredient to go into the soup.
Only add spinach to the soup when your meatballs are done cooking. Turn the heat up to high and let it boil for 1 minute to cook the spinach.
Once the spinach leaves are cooked and wilted, turn off the heat and proceed to add sesame oil and cilantro.
If you want to add mushrooms to this recipe, we recommend using button, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms. They’re the best fits for our winter melon meatball soup recipe.
To prep the mushrooms, rinse and drain them well. Then cut the mushrooms in quarters or thin slices.
Add them to the soup from the beginning so that they cook along with the winter melons.
If you love soups and mushrooms, check out our Chinese-inspired egg drop soup recipe. This soup is easy-to-make, comforting, and full of flavors.
How Long Does Winter Melon Meatball Soup Last?
If you have leftover soup, leave it to cool completely before putting it into an airtight container. You can store it in the fridge or freezer.
Refrigerated winter melon meatball can last up to 3 days. Frozen soup, on the other hand, can last up to 1 month.
Frozen Meatball Soup: How to Thaw and Reheat
To thaw a frozen winter melon meatball soup, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. It should defrost slowly overnight.
Otherwise you can take the frozen soup container out and put it in a bath of tap water. Change the water every 15 minutes or so to help it thaw faster.
If your microwave has a defrost setting, you can utilize this setting and thaw your soup in minutes.
Once your soup has been thawed, transfer it to a pot and bring to a rolling boil to reheat.
What to Serve with Winter Melon Meatball Soup
Our soup is a low-calorie side dish, so you need to pair it with a main dish and/or another side dish for a complete meal.
Rice is essential in Chinese cooking. It’s a versatile addition that can help you feel full.
You can serve the soup with any type of rice you want. But rice and meatball soup alone is still not nutritious enough— you’ll need to add a main dish.
Choose a main dish that will supply you with more protein and fiber— a wholesome, nutritious meal. Any Chinese-inspired main dish that’s full of protein and fiber would be perfect with our soup.
Now let’s get cooking.
Winter Melon Meatball Soup Recipe
- 6 oz ground pork
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ginger peeled, minced
- 1/4 oz scallions chopped
- 2 tsp shallots finely minced
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1/2 tbsp cooking wine
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 8 oz winter melon peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp cilantro chopped
- Marinate the meat: in a bowl, combine the ground pork, salt, soy sauce, sugar, pepper, ginger, scallions, shallots, canola oil, and cooking wine. Mix well and set aside.
- Cook the vegetables: add unsalted chicken broth to a large pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add winter melon, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Cook the meat: use a spoon to scoop out meatballs and drop them into the soup (we used the 1-teaspoon measuring spoon.) Cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Finishing touches: add sesame oil and cilantro to the soup and stir.
- Serve: transfer to a large serving bowl and serve immediately.