15 Minutes Super Simple Chinese Seaweed Soup

by Ella

In the vast tapestry of Chinese cuisine, the flavors of the ocean are harmoniously woven into various dishes. One such delightful creation is Chinese Seaweed Soup, a nutritious and comforting delicacy that encapsulates the essence of both land and sea. Combining tradition, flavor, and health benefits, this soup has stood the test of time as a cornerstone of Chinese culinary culture. In this article, we will delve deep into the art of making authentic Chinese Seaweed Soup, exploring its history, ingredients, preparation techniques, and the nuanced balance of flavors that characterize this exquisite dish.

Chinese Seaweed Soup, known as “Hǎitáng Tāng” in Mandarin, holds a significant place in Chinese cuisine. With roots tracing back thousands of years, this soup has not only been a source of nourishment but also a symbol of family unity and cultural tradition. Seaweed, or “hǎidài” in Chinese, has long been revered for its health benefits and unique umami flavor, making it an ideal ingredient for soup preparation. The process of crafting this soup is an embodiment of Chinese culinary principles that emphasize the harmonious balance of flavors, textures, and nutritional elements.


Chinese Seaweed Soup

Chinese Seaweed Soup, known as "Hǎitáng Tāng" in Mandarin, is a classic dish that harmoniously combines the flavors of the sea with the essence of traditional Chinese cuisine. This nourishing soup not only offers a comforting and flavorful experience but also holds cultural significance. In this recipe, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating a delicious and authentic Chinese Seaweed Soup in your own kitchen.
Prep Time5 minutes
Active Time15 minutes
Course: Soup
Yield: 2
Cost: $2


  • 1 stockpot


  • 30g dried kelp (kombu)
  • 15g dried shrimp or dried scallops (or both)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (shiitake or button mushrooms)
  • 100g firm tofu, cubed
  • 4-5 dried red dates (jujubes)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Chopped green onions (for garnish)


  • Rinse the dried kelp under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  • Place the dried kelp in a bowl and cover it with cold water. Allow it to soak for about 20-30 minutes until it becomes soft and pliable.
  • Once rehydrated, gently squeeze out excess water and slice the kelp into thin strips. Set aside.
  • If using dried shrimp or dried scallops, rinse them under cold water to remove any salt or debris.
  • Place the dried shrimp or scallops in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them soak for about 15-20 minutes until they become tender.
  • Once softened, drain the water and finely chop the shrimp or scallops. Set aside.
  • In a large stockpot, bring the chicken or vegetable broth to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced ginger and minced garlic to the broth. Allow them to infuse their flavors for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rehydrated kelp strips and the chopped dried shrimp or scallops to the simmering broth.
  • Let the soup simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the seaweed to release its natural umami essence.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms, cubed tofu, and dried red dates to the soup. These ingredients will contribute diverse textures and flavors to the dish.
  • Continue to simmer the soup for another 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the tofu is heated through.
  • Stir in the soy sauce to add savory depth to the soup. Adjust the amount according to your taste preferences. Sprinkle in the white pepper to provide a subtle hint of spiciness. Drizzle the sesame oil into the soup to enhance its aroma and flavor.
  • Allow the soup to simmer gently for a final 5-10 minutes, ensuring all the ingredients are fully heated and well combined. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if needed by adding more soy sauce or white pepper.

Can I use fresh seaweed instead of dried kelp?

Yes, you can use fresh seaweed instead of dried kelp in Chinese Seaweed Soup, but there are a few things to consider. Fresh seaweed has a higher water content and a slightly different texture compared to dried kelp. Here’s how you can adjust the recipe if using fresh seaweed:


1. Type of Seaweed: Choose edible seaweed that is commonly used in cooking, such as wakame, hijiki, or even certain types of local seaweeds available in your region. Keep in mind that different types of seaweed may have varying flavors and textures.


2. Preparation: If using fresh seaweed, you won’t need to rehydrate it as you would with dried kelp. Simply rinse the fresh seaweed thoroughly under cold water to remove any debris.


3. Cooking Time: Fresh seaweed generally has a shorter cooking time than dried kelp. Add the fresh seaweed towards the end of the cooking process to avoid overcooking. Add it when you add the other ingredients that need less time to cook, such as mushrooms and tofu.

4. Texture: Fresh seaweed has a tender and slightly crunchy texture. Be prepared for a different texture experience compared to the softened and chewy texture of rehydrated kelp.

5. Flavor: The flavor of fresh seaweed can vary depending on the type you use. Some types may have a milder taste, while others can be more pronounced. Taste the seaweed before adding it to the soup to gauge its flavor and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Can I store leftovers of Chinese Seaweed Soup?

Yes, you can store leftovers of Chinese Seaweed Soup for future enjoyment. Here are some guidelines on how to properly store and reheat the soup:

1. Cooling Down: Allow the soup to cool down slightly before transferring it to storage containers. This helps prevent condensation and ensures that the soup cools down evenly.

2. Storage Containers: Use airtight containers to store the soup. Glass or plastic containers with secure lids work well. If you plan to freeze the soup, make sure the containers are freezer-safe.

3. Portion Sizes: Consider dividing the leftover soup into smaller portion-sized containers. This way, you can defrost and reheat only the amount you plan to consume, reducing food waste.

4. Refrigeration: If you plan to consume the leftovers within 3-4 days, store the soup in the refrigerator. Place the containers in the coldest part of the fridge to ensure proper temperature control.

See Also: Shelf Life of Seafood & How to Store It (Fresh+Cooked)

What can seaweed soup chinese be eaten with?

Chinese Seaweed Soup is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own as a light and nourishing meal or paired with other dishes to create a more well-rounded dining experience. Here are some complementary dishes that you can consider serving alongside or after Chinese Seaweed Soup:

1. Steamed Rice: A bowl of steamed white rice serves as a classic accompaniment to Chinese Seaweed Soup. The mild flavor of the rice complements the umami richness of the soup.

2. Stir-Fried Vegetables: A plate of freshly stir-fried vegetables, such as bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), or snow peas, adds a burst of color, crunch, and nutrients to the meal.

3. Steamed Fish: A delicate steamed fish, seasoned with ginger, garlic, and light soy sauce, pairs beautifully with the subtle flavors of the seaweed soup. The fish’s tender texture contrasts with the soup’s broth.

4. Dumplings or Dim Sum: Enjoying Chinese Seaweed Soup with a side of dumplings, whether steamed or pan-fried, creates a delightful balance of flavors and textures.

5. Noodles: Serving the soup with a side of Chinese noodles, such as egg noodles or rice noodles, offers a heartier option that combines well with the soup’s flavors.

See Also: How to Make Authentic Chinese Dry Noodles: A Step-by-Step Guide

6. Sautéed Shrimp: For a seafood-focused meal, sautéed shrimp with garlic and a touch of soy sauce provides a succulent protein accompaniment to the soup.

7. Tofu Dishes: Since tofu is often included in the soup itself, you can prepare additional tofu dishes such as mapo tofu or stir-fried tofu with vegetables for a well-rounded vegetarian meal.

8. Spring Rolls: Crispy spring rolls filled with vegetables and perhaps a small amount of protein add a contrasting texture to the soup’s warmth and tenderness.

9. Fried Rice: A bowl of fragrant fried rice, either plain or with added vegetables and protein, creates a satisfying and flavorful meal when paired with Chinese Seaweed Soup.

10. Fruit or Dessert: To conclude the meal, consider serving fresh fruits like sliced oranges or lychees for a refreshing touch. Alternatively, offer a light Chinese dessert, such as sweet red bean soup or almond tofu.

Is Chinese Seaweed Soup a healthy option?

Yes, Chinese Seaweed Soup can be a healthy and nutritious option, depending on the ingredients used and the overall balance of the meal. Here are some reasons why Chinese Seaweed Soup can be considered a healthy choice:

1. Nutrient-Rich Ingredients:

Kelp (Seaweed): Kelp is rich in essential minerals such as iodine, calcium, magnesium, and iron. It also contains vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.

Protein: If the soup includes dried seafood, shrimp, or other protein sources, it provides essential amino acids necessary for tissue repair and overall health.

Vegetables: The addition of vegetables like mushrooms and tofu enhances the soup’s nutritional value by providing vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

2. Low in Calories:

Chinese Seaweed Soup is often a low-calorie option, making it suitable for individuals looking to manage their caloric intake. It’s a light and satisfying option that can be included in a balanced diet.

3. Low in Saturated Fat:

The soup typically doesn’t contain high amounts of saturated fats, especially if lean protein sources are used. This makes it heart-healthy and a good option for those concerned about their cholesterol levels.

Are there regional variations of Chinese Seaweed Soup?

Yes, there are regional variations of Chinese Seaweed Soup that reflect the diverse culinary traditions within China. These variations can include differences in ingredients, preparation methods, and flavor profiles. Here are a few examples of regional variations of Chinese Seaweed Soup:

1. Fujian Seaweed Soup (Hǎitáng Tāng): Fujian province, known for its coastal location, has its version of seaweed soup. It often includes a combination of ingredients like dried oysters, peanuts, and goji berries along with seaweed. This variation showcases a balance of textures and flavors, with the goji berries adding a hint of natural sweetness.

2. Cantonese Seaweed Soup (Hǎitáng Tāng): In Cantonese cuisine, the focus is often on the natural flavors of the ingredients. Cantonese Seaweed Soup might feature fresh seafood such as fish slices or shrimp, enhancing the oceanic essence of the soup. The broth is usually light and clear to allow the flavors of the ingredients to shine.

3. Taiwanese Seaweed Soup (Hǎidài Gēng): In Taiwan, seaweed soup is known as “hǎidài gēng.” It typically includes rehydrated kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and sometimes dried anchovies for added umami. This version may also incorporate ingredients like black vinegar or Chinese black beans to enhance the depth of flavor.

4. Northern Seaweed Soup (Hǎitáng Tāng): In northern regions of China, the soup might be heartier and warming, suitable for colder climates. It could include ingredients like lamb or beef along with seaweed for a rich and robust flavor.

5. Sichuan Spicy Seaweed Soup: Sichuan cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavors. In this regional variation, you might find a seaweed soup that incorporates Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers, and other spicy ingredients to create a tongue-tingling experience.

6. Hainanese Seaweed Soup: Hainanese cuisine, known for its light and delicate flavors, might have a simpler version of seaweed soup. It could feature fresh seafood like fish or prawns, combined with rehydrated kelp and perhaps a few aromatics for a clean and refreshing taste.

7. Shanghai-Style Seaweed Soup: Shanghai-style seaweed soup could feature ingredients like dried shrimp, goji berries, and perhaps a touch of black vinegar. The balance of sweet, sour, and savory flavors creates a unique profile.

In Conclusion

Chinese Seaweed Soup is more than just a dish—it’s a culinary journey that connects heritage, nutrition, and taste. With its deep-rooted history and intricate preparation process, this soup exemplifies the nuances of Chinese cuisine. From the delicate balance of flavors to the interplay of textures, every spoonful offers a sensory experience that transcends time and culture. As you embark on the adventure of crafting your own Chinese Seaweed Soup, remember that each ingredient holds a story, and each step carries the wisdom of generations past.



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