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This is one of my favorite comfort foods.  Lion Head Soup is a meatball soup in cooked napa cabbage. Healthy and nutritious, this soup can be frozen.  I usually make this soup is gigantic batches (think 5 heads of napa cabbage), and freeze for weeks.  Here's my version of Lion Head Soup. I also tend to put more vegetables in my meat balls than normal.  I actually have more veggies than meat in my meatballs.  You can vary the ratio to your own liking.  I also use much more napa cabbage than usual.  Additionally, I use a food processor to chop my dried mushrooms, carrots, and water chestnuts. 


Ingredients for meat balls:

  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (you can find these canned in many grocery stores now).
  • 1 cup diced dried mushrooms (soak mushrooms for at least one hour prior to use)
  • 2 table spoons garlic ginger paste  - optional (find this in the Indian food section)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add more eggs or corn starch to achieve a sticky but not overly dense consistency.  Shape these into meat balls.  Some recipes call for dropping these meat balls into the soup, but I like to fry mine just to keep them from falling apart.  Sometimes they will fall apart anyways.  As I fry mine, I put a lid over them so that the tops will steam.  I find that this also helps keep them from falling apart.  Usually, I start the soup first so that when the meat balls are done, I can drop them into the soup immediately. 

Ingredients for the soup:

  • Whole ginger root or ginger powder 
  • Hot Chili Sauce or whole chilies
  • Napa cabbage, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt

The soup is so easy to make it isn't even funny. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add napa.  The napa will take about 20 minutes to cook.  The napa is done when it is translucent.  During the cook time, add either some ginger powder or an entire ginger room.  Add whole chilies or Hot Chili Sauce.  Add soy sauce and some salt.  That's it.  It is that simple.  Add the amount of ginger, hot chili sauce, and soy sauce that you like.  It is entirely up to your taste.  For a single large napa cabbage, I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder or 1 large ginger root (smashed open), 1 tablespoon of hot chili sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a pinch of salt.  Add the partially cooked meat balls.  Simmer for 10 minutes, and it is done.  Serve with rice or eat alone. 

Meat Ball Mixture

Meat Ball mix

Frying the meat balls

Meat balls waiting to go into the soup.

Mmmmm.... finished soup.  It looks fuzzy because that's the steam coming from the soup.