ABC Soup

A hearty bowl of ABC soup. — Filepic

Surely most people would have come across ABC soup some time or other in their lives.

It’s one of the first soups I learnt how to make, and one of the easiest.

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. — FilepicCut the chicken into smaller pieces. — Filepic

When I was a child, I thought the ABC in ABC soup stood for onion, potato and carrot, but since I now know to spell I was obviously wrong.

It’s probably called thus because it is as easy as ABC to make, but apparently it’s also because the soup contains vitamins A, B and C, all the nourishing goodness in one swoop.

The ingredients are easy to come by as all you need are carrots, potatoes, tomato and onion besides the chicken. Some people choose to use pork ribs instead, and having some corn in the mix adds to the texture and sweetness of the broth as well. Other optional items include tofu, cauliflower and radish, and even anchovies or cuttlefish strips, but then this would no longer be basic ABC soup anymore.

It’s almost a no-brainer as I basically throw all the ingredients into the pot and boil everything in one go, as I’m lazy that way. Some recipes are a little more complicated with instructions to boil the chicken first, and then later adding in the vegetables and slow-cooking for hours for a deeper, more mellow flavour.

Personally, I feel it doesn’t make a big difference between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours of slow simmering, except that the ingredients would get mushier, which is fine as some people prefer it that way, especially when you’re making this soup for young children. Whether you’re feeling under the weather, or just want a warm comforting bowl of broth, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. — Contributed by PATSY KAM/

ABC soup ingredients. — PATSY KAMABC soup ingredients. — PATSY KAM


½ chicken, cut into pieces (or 4 drumsticks, or 1 whole chicken carcass)

2 litres water

2 medium-sized carrot

1 large tomato

1 large onion

3 large potatoes

1 ear of corn (optional)

1/2 teaspoon white peppercorn (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut the tomato into wedges. You can remove the skin if you like, but it doesn’t really make a difference.

2. Peel the carrots and cut them into 1cm wheels. Peel the potatoes, then cut into either 8 parts if the potato is large, or 4 if medium-sized. Cut the onion into quarters. Divide the corn lengthwise into three, if you’re putting this into the soup.

3. After bringing the water to a boil in a large pot, add in the chicken (some people blanch the chicken briefly to remove the smell or impurities).

4. Add in the vegetables and onion, and simmer for about 1.5 hours. You may add some chicken stock if so desired.

5. To get a clearer, clean broth, use a fine wire mesh strainer to remove any scum floating on the surface. Serve on its own, or to go with rice or bread.

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