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Winter Melon Soup
For maximum dramatic effect at a big-deal dinner, use a scooped-out, elaborately carved winter melon as a tureen for this delicious soup

Ingredients:
3 cups rich pork stock
1 chicken drumstick and thigh
1/4 cup diced Smithfield ham
3 scallions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots (fresh, if possible)
1/4 cup peeled and diced water chestnuts (fresh, if possible)
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
6 Chinese mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 cup diced winter melon
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup peas (fresh or thawed frozen)
1/4 cup baby corn
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup diced bean curd (firm-style)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil

Directions:
1. Bring the pork stock to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, add the chicken, and cook gently for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, bone the meat, shred it, and discard the bones.
2. Add the shredded chicken to the pork stock with the ham, scallions, garlic, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and dried shrimp. Slice the Chinese mushrooms and add to the stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add the winter melon, tomato, peas, and baby corn. Bring soup to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch with enough cold water to make a liquid resembling heavy cream. Pour enough into boiling soup, stirring, to thicken soup lightly. Reduce to simmer, and add the bean curd. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Swirl in sesame oil, and serve immediately.

For maximum dramatic effect at a big-deal dinner, use a scooped-out, elaborately carved winter melon as a tureen for this delicious soup. Serves 4