Traditional Chinese watercress and bone broth 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Traditional Chinese watercress and pork bone broth, with honey dates and almonds 西洋菜汤 (FODMAP friendly)

There was always plenty of rain in Southern China where I grew up. This means watercress was always fresh and cheap from the market. My grandmother loved to cook the traditional watercress broth. She boiled the vegetables for hours with lots of pork bones. It was delicious but visually bland. 

My version of the watercress broth is pleasingly green. I cook the stems of the watercress with the soup, and blanch the greens to serve with the soup. 

Carrot and Chinese honey dates are used in this soup to bring a mild sweetness. The honey dates are frequently used in traditional Chinese soups, and said have a therapeutic effect to boost the immune system and youthfulness.


  • 1-1.5kg of pork bones
  • 1 bunch of watercress, washed, cut and separate the stems from the greens
  • 1-2 carrot, cut into chunks
  • 2-3 Chinese dried honey dates 蜜枣 (skip for a FODMAP recipe)
  • 2-3 pieces dried lotus root (optional, skip for a FODMAP recipe)
Chinese goldthread honey date
Chinese goldthread honey date


  • In a large pot, add pork bones and cover with water, bring to boil for 5 minutes; carefully tip the pork bones into a colander over the sink, discard the liquid; rinse the pork bones with cold water until all the impurities are removed
  • Return the pork bones to the large pot, add the watercress stems, carrot, dried sweet dates and lotus root; top with water, bring to boil; turn the heat to low, simmer for 1.5 hours with a lid on.
  • Bring water to boil in a saucepan, add watercress and blanch the watercress green briefly (1-2 minutes), remove the greens from the water and set aside
  • To serve, place some broth (without the watercress stems) in a bowl, add greens of the watercress.

Pick the meat off bones like a good old Chinese – it is delicious.

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