Chin-Ind Soups

Step 2 of 3

A bowl of “Chinese” tomato soup

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Being of Chinese descent and having parents who own a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant, I’m often asked how Chinese-Indonesian dishes are prepared. One of the most requested dishes is the so-called “Chinese tomato soup”.

Time to look at this “Chinese” tomato soup. Dutch-Chinese cuisine emerged in the 1950s, when more and more Chinese came to the Netherlands through “chain migration”. Their goal was to try their luck in the restaurant business, and the dishes were thus adjusted to local tastes See Benton & Pieke 2016, p 217. The same thing happened to our tomato soup.

In Chinese cuisine, soups are quite different from those served in Chinese-Indonesian restaurants. When searching online for Chinese tomato soup in Dutch, a lot of ‘Chinese tomatensoep’ recipes as we know from the Chinese-Indonesian restaurants show up. However, a search for the same term in English yields other results: ‘Chinese tomato and egg (drop) soup'. This soup comes close to the tomato soup famous in the Netherlands, but it is not nearly as thick as the Dutch tomato soup.

Ask any Chinese restaurant owner, and they will most likely say they do not eat this kind of soup themselves. However, the Dutch are very fond of the Chinese tomato soup sold in Chinese-Indonesian restaurants. The sweetness is very much associated with this soup. It is available premade in supermarkets as “sweet Chinese tomato soup”.e.g. At Albert Heijn)

On cooking sites, many Dutch look for the perfect “Chinese tomato soup” recipe. Often the ingredients listed include tomatoes, tomato paste and the secret ingredient: appelmoes.See on Oh My Foodness Appelmoes, the Dutch word for applesauce, is common in the Netherlands and often eaten with fries. However, many Dutch food bloggers call it a secret ingredient of the Chinese tomato soup and maintain that it is added to the recipe for its sweet flavor. Interestingly enough, former Chinese-Indonesian restaurant owner Mingfang Wang mentions in her YouTube video that she adds fruit to her variant of the soup, but does not mention applesauce.See Wang’s recipe on Youtube