Food Recipe

Lunar New Year = Lion’s Head Soup

Photo credit: flickr/ Mirza Aiz Baig
Possibly throwing shade at the ox.
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Gong Xi Fa Cai! Lion’s Head Soup is a hearty soup perfect for a lunar near year celebration in the dead of winter. Or, for any other time, really. Here, our Chinese-Taiwanese-American Mash-Up Peter Lee shares his mom’s famous Lion’s Head Soup. Eat this weekend alongside other celebratory foods, including dumplings, pomelo, long life noodles, and nian gao, or glutinous rice cake. Rawr.

If you’re feeling less lion-like and more “Italian,” check out Peter’s recipe for Chinese Spaghetti. [Editor’s note: It’s not spaghetti.]

Photo credit: Peter Lee
Photo credit: Peter Lee

Peter’s Mom’s Lion’s Head Soup

Lions are not vegetarians, and neither are their soups.
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 slices of ginger minced
  • 1 green onion minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce separated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 8 oz can of water chestnuts rinsed, dried completely, and chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 lb napa cabbage cut into chunks (separating leafy parts from harder white stems)
  • 3 bundles bean thread noodles available in Asian grocers or online


  • Mix all ingredients aside from 2 tbsp of soy sauce, cabbage and noodles. Let marinate for 1 hour.
  • Shape into large meatballs.
  • In a cast iron pot, heat oil over medium heat and pan fry meatballs until browned on all sides. Remove from pan.
  • To the still hot pan, add the white stems of the cabbage and stir fry.
  • Add remaining soy sauce and put the meatballs back in.
  • Add a handful of cabbage leaves to cover the meat balls and add water to almost cover the meatballs.
  • Cover and simmer 3 hours, keeping an eye on the water.
  • Keep adding water and cabbage to keep the meatballs nearly covered.
  • Towards the end of cooking, soak the noodles for 15 minutes and add to soup.
  • Enjoy!
Posted by Peter Lee
Peter is an "ABC," aka American Born Chinese. He's lived in the Midwest all his life, worked in technology since college and now does big data for a pharmaceutical company. He's always had a passion for the culinary arts, particularly anything and everything Asian/Chinese related.

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