ABC Soup

Whenever someone in the household was feeling slightly under the weather, Mama, my maternal grandmother would whip up a large pot of her homemade remedy, the ABC soup. Known to some as luo song tang (in Mandarin meaning 'Russian soup'), it is thought that this soup is a Chinese take on the hearty Russian borscht and is more commonly made at home than purchased at a restaurant in Malaysia. As a child, I didn't enjoy the soup very much - us grandkids nicknamed it the 'sick soup' and would avoid telling Mama we were ill since everyone ends up having the soup regardless whether they were sick or not; interestingly, my liking for the soup has changed over the years, a large part attributed to the fact I live abroad and at times miss home, and perhaps having developed a more mature and varied tastebud as an adult. Today, the ABC soup is one of the dishes I would make during wintertime or whenever I have a cold.

ABC soup

Why is the soup called ABC? The name is likely to have come from vitamins A, B and C found in the vegetables used in the soup though it could purely be because it is such an easy dish to prepare, making it as simple as ABC :) There are slight variations to the recipe found online but generally include meat with bone, potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and peppercorns. Mama's version is made with pork spare ribs and a palm size cauliflower - I'm not a fan of cauliflower so replaced it with sweet corn. Here's my adapted version of Mama's ABC soup:

ABC Soup (adapted from Mama's recipe)

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Serves 2


4 chicken drumsticks, skin and fat removed
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
2 large onions, cut into wedges
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1-2 sweet corns, husked and cut into 4 chunks each
½ tablespoon crushed peppercorns
2 litres water (add more if reduced too much with cooking)
Salt to taste

1. Prepare all the ingredients.
2. In a large pot, bring the water to boil. Add in chicken and crushed peppercorns. Continue to boil for 5-10 minutes.
3. Using a ladle, skim off any impurities from the surface of the broth. Add in the all the cut vegetables. Bring the flame down to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
4. Add salt to taste. Serve the soup hot with a dash of white pepper.

You can substitute the chicken drumstick with other cuts of chicken or pork with bone in, and include vegetables such as garlic and celery. Enjoy the soup on its own or serve with some steamed rice on the side. A perfect winter warmer and packed with health benefits to give those cold bugs the boot!


  1. NIce and nutritious food... I love it!!! Post more and I will cook it at home...

    1. Wonderful! Let me know how you go with the recipe. I'm gradually compiling grandma's home cooked recipes and posting them up over time - take a bit more work as Mama cooks based on instinct and not measurement :)

  2. It's funny how you often hark back to the dishes you hated as a kid, but have a renewed appreciation / reminiscence for it in adult life!

    1. Haha, yes, I found it rather amusing myself! I attribute it to getting older (and reminiscing my childhood days living with grandma in Malaysia) and having developed a more mature tastebud :)

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