House Special Soup: recipes, Ingredients, Menu, calories

Nothing beats piping hot soup when you’re craving comfort food. And few soups offer more warm, rich satisfaction than the ubiquitous house special soup featured on Chinese takeout menus. But what exactly makes this quintessential Chinese soup so “special”? Let’s delve into the origins, ingredients, regional varieties, and how to order house special soup to appreciate why it remains an enduring takeout favorite.

With its combination of chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetables in savory broth, house special speaks to the soul. While recipes vary, certain familiar elements unite the house special soup experience. This distinctive melange of textures and flavors explains why it’s on speed dial for millions of hungry diners. Read on for everything you need to know about house special soup so you can order it like a seasoned regular.

What is House Special Soup?

House special soup is a hearty Chinese mixed soup featuring an assortment of meat, seafood, and veggies cooked in a flavorful broth. Standard ingredients include:

  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Pork
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Water chestnuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Baby corn
  • Tofu or fish cake
  • Egg

Beyond this foundation, ingredients can range from bk or fish to vegetables like broccoli, carrots or napa cabbage. The broth boasts a rich umami depth from simmering bones and aromatics.

House Special stands out for its diverse mix of textures and savoriness. You get tender chicken and shrimp, the crunch of water chestnuts, slippery mushrooms and soft tofu or egg. This satisfying blend of tastes explains the enduring popularity of house special soup.

Origins and History of House Special Soup

Like many Chinese-American dishes, house special soup has murky origins. It likely emerged in the U.S. as a combination soup meant to please American tastes. Packing in complementary flavors and ingredients produces a one-bowl meal appealing to Western diners.

“House special” distinguishes everyday soups from this amped-up rendition unique to each restaurant. The mix of proteins and veggies allows showcasing what the kitchen does best. House special soup first appeared on Chinese menus in the 1950s and became widespread by the 1970s.

Beyond North America, versions of mixed meat and vegetable soups are enjoyed throughout China’s culinary regions. Some examples include:

  • Lu rou fan – Taiwanese pork and corn soup
  • Bak kut teh – Chinese pork rib soup
  • Suanla tang – Hot and sour soup
  • Yuntaishan – Jiangsu chicken and mushroom soup

But the hearty rendition we know as house special remains a Westernized Chinese classic perfect for chilly nights or anytime cravings strike. Now let’s examine popular recipes and regional varieties.

house special soup

Common House Special Soup Recipes and Ingredients

House special soup recipes vary widely between restaurants and regions. But some broad guidelines help distinguish versions:

Cantonese – Features plentiful shrimp and thin egg ribbons with baby bok choy in chicken broth.

Szechuan – Spicy dan dan noodles join the mix for added heat and texture. Uses chili oil and Szechuan peppercorns.

Northern – Rich bone broth with napa cabbage, plus lamb or mutton. Cilantro garnish.

Americanized – Thick cut veggies and protein pieces in creamy chicken broth. Heavy egg ribbons.

Beyond geography, individual chefs tweak their house special recipes based on locally available ingredients and customer feedback. Diners eventually identify their favorite rendition. Now let’s look closer at key soup ingredients.

Popular House Special Soup Protein and Veggie Add-Ins

While proteins and vegetable vary, these remain go-to additions in many house special recipes:


  • Chicken – Diced breast meat, chunks on bone, or shredded chicken
  • Pork – Slices, diced meat, or ground pork
  • Shrimp – Small or medium shrimp, sometimes just a few pieces
  • Egg – Ribbons, cubes, or whole boiled quail egg
  • Tofu – Cubes or triangles of soft tofu or fried tofu puffs
  • Fish cake – Fluffy meatballs or fish tofu
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Water chestnuts
  • Mushrooms – Shiitake, oyster, wood ear or straw varieties
  • Baby corn
  • Napa cabbage
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli

This diverse mix of proteins, vegetables and textures makes each spoonful of house special soup satisfying. Now let’s look at how broth choices impact flavor.

House Special Soup Broth Styles

The broth ties everything together in house special soup. Popular cooking liquors include:

  • Chicken broth – Classic broth accentuating mild, savory flavor
  • Beef broth – Heartier with deep umami richness and lightly sweet notes
  • Bone broth – Simmering marrow bones for hours extracts maximum flavor
  • Vegetable broth – Lighter viscosity and cleaner flavor for veggie or seafood soups

Many chefs use chicken broth enhanced with aromatics like ginger, scallions and garlic. Others combine chicken and beef broth. Bone broth adds lip-smacking savoriness. The ideal base strikes a balance between meaty depth and clean, fresh taste.

House Special Soup Broth Styles

How to Order House Special Soup at Chinese Restaurants

When you get a hankering for house special, here are some ordering tips:

  • Check the menu’s soup section for a house special listing – this signals it’s a specialty. Otherwise, ask if they offer it.
  • Request mild, medium or spicy to match your heat preferences.
  • Ask about sizing if individual or family style portions are available.
  • Indicate preferred noodles, rice or no carbs.
  • For smaller appetite, request no egg or half the regular protein amount.
  • If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, inquire about substitutions.
  • When ordering delivery, request extra broth and soup containers to prevent sogginess.

Satisfy your house special craving with confidence using these insider strategies. Now let’s uncover some fun food facts.

Interesting House Special Soup Facts and Statistics

House special soup remains an enduring menu staple thanks to its crowd-pleasing properties. Here are some fast food facts:

  • Surveys show house special soup is the #1 most ordered soup at Chinese restaurants.
  • An average serving contains 300-500 calories depending largely on portion sizes and broth.
  • Chinese soups rely heavily on chicken broth, using over 15 billion pounds per year in the U.S.!
  • Adding uncooked eggs to hot soup cooks them gently, producing soft, silky texture.
  • Bamboo shoots contain just 20 calories per cup yet 4 grams of satiating fiber.
  • Mushrooms supply important nutrients like selenium, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
  • Soup broths when home-cooked can safely store in the fridge for 3-4 days or freezer for 4-6 months.

For fast soup facts to impress your friends, house special is tough to beat!

Frequently Asked Questions About House Special Soup

Still curious for more house special soup knowledge? These common questions provide additional insights:

What’s the difference between house special soup and egg drop soup?

Egg drop relies almost entirely on beaten eggs drizzled into hot broth to thicken and add silkiness. House special contains eggs plus a medley of vegetables and proteins.

Is house special soup gluten free?

Most restaurant versions are gluten free unless noodles are added. Check for soy sauce containing wheat. Broths thickened with cornstarch are gluten free.

What protein is healthiest in house special soup?

For lean protein, choose chicken or shrimp with visible fat removed. Tofu provides fiber, calcium and isoflavones. Avoid fatty meats like pork belly.

Can you freeze takeout house special soup safely?

Freezing is OK but may diminish texture. Thaw gently over low heat instead of microwaving. Use frozen soup within 3-4 months.

What’s a good substitute if you don’t like mushrooms?

Water chestnuts offer satisfying crunch. Baby corn or snow peas provide veggie sweetness. Or ask for no mushrooms.

Satisfy your curiosity along with your appetite by diving deeper into house special soup. This beloved Chinese comfort food favorite is sure to warm you up anytime.

What's a good substitute if you don't like mushrooms

What Does House Special Soup Have In It?

House Special Soup is a versatile and eclectic dish, known for its rich flavors and diverse ingredients. While the exact composition may vary across regions and restaurants, a typical House Special Soup could include:

  • Broth Base: A savory broth, often chicken or vegetable-based, forms the foundation of the soup, contributing depth and richness.
  • Proteins: Various proteins like chicken, shrimp, tofu, or a combination of these may be featured, providing a hearty and satisfying element to the dish.
  • Vegetables: A medley of fresh vegetables, such as mushrooms, carrots, bok choy, and bamboo shoots, adds color, texture, and nutritional value.
  • Noodles or Rice: Some variations incorporate noodles or rice, enhancing the soup’s heartiness and making it a wholesome meal.
  • Herbs and Spices: Fragrant herbs like cilantro or green onions, along with spices such as ginger and garlic, contribute aromatic layers to the soup.

The beauty of House Special Soup lies in its adaptability, allowing chefs to showcase their creativity and adapt the recipe to suit local preferences.

What Does House Special Mean in Chinese?

In Chinese culinary terminology, “House Special” refers to a dish that reflects the unique flair and expertise of a particular restaurant or chef. It is a signature creation that distinguishes the establishment, often showcasing the chef’s culinary prowess and the restaurant’s commitment to offering a memorable dining experience.

The term “House Special” implies that the dish is distinctive to that specific dining venue, making it a must-try for patrons seeking a taste of the restaurant’s individuality. In the context of House Special Soup, this designation suggests a soup crafted with special attention to flavors, ingredients, and presentation.

What Does House Special Mean in Chinese?

What Is the Best Chinese Soup to Order?

Choosing the best Chinese soup depends on personal preferences and flavor profiles. However, some classic and universally beloved Chinese soups include:

  • Hot and Sour Soup: Known for its bold and tangy flavors, this soup typically features mushrooms, tofu, and a tantalizing blend of spices.
  • Wonton Soup: Delicate wontons filled with meat or seafood are bathed in a clear broth, creating a comforting and timeless dish.
  • Egg Drop Soup: Simplicity meets elegance in this soup, where beaten eggs are drizzled into a hot broth, creating silky ribbons with subtle flavors.
  • Chicken Corn Soup: A creamy and savory delight, this soup combines shredded chicken and sweet corn in a luscious broth.

See also: How Much is a Bushel of Purple Hull Peas?

What Is a Special Soup?

A “Special Soup” generally signifies a distinctive and noteworthy soup preparation that stands out from the regular menu offerings. It is a creation that showcases the culinary prowess of the chef and often incorporates unique or premium ingredients.

The term “Special Soup” can vary in meaning depending on the context, ranging from a chef’s innovative daily creation to a celebrated, signature dish that defines a particular restaurant’s identity.

What Is a Special Soup?

House Special Noodle Soup

House Special Noodle Soup is a culinary masterpiece that combines a rich broth, diverse noodles, succulent proteins, vibrant vegetables, and aromatic herbs. This dish offers a symphony of flavors, allowing customization to suit individual preferences. With options ranging from silky egg noodles to wholesome wheat noodles, and an array of proteins like beef and shrimp, each spoonful promises a delightful experience.

Fragrant herbs, spices, and finishing touches like sesame oil complete this sensory adventure. Health-conscious alternatives, such as whole-grain noodles and lean proteins, cater to diverse preferences. House Special Noodle Soup is a celebration of tradition and creativity, inviting you to savor its magic and relish the harmonious blend of textures and tastes.

See also: Aeropress vs Pour Over

House Special Soup Menu

Embarking on a gastronomic adventure often involves exploring the diverse and enticing offerings on a restaurant’s menu. The House Special Soup Menu is a treasure trove of flavorful delights, each bowl crafted to perfection. Let’s take a tantalizing journey through a hypothetical House Special Soup Menu, where every option promises a culinary experience like no other.

1. Classic House Special Hot and Sour Soup

A symphony of flavors awaits in this timeless favorite. A spicy and tangy broth teeming with tofu, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tender strips of chicken or shrimp. Garnished with green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil, it’s a perfect start to your culinary voyage.

2. Seafood Extravaganza Soup

Dive into the ocean of flavors with this House Special that celebrates the bounty of the sea. A rich broth featuring a medley of shrimp, scallops, crab meat, and assorted fish, complemented by fresh vegetables. An oceanic delight that speaks of freshness and indulgence.

3. Chef’s Special Wonton Symphony

Experience the culinary artistry of our chef with this signature Wonton Soup. Delicate wontons filled with a delectable mixture of minced chicken and shrimp, swimming in a clear and savory broth. A harmonious blend of flavors that showcases the skillful craftsmanship of our kitchen.

4. Emperor’s Chicken Noodle Elixir

Fit for royalty, this soup marries succulent strips of chicken with perfectly cooked noodles, all bathed in a soul-soothing broth. Enhanced with exotic mushrooms, bok choy, and a sprinkle of cilantro, it’s a regal experience that transcends ordinary dining.

5. Vegetarian Zen Garden Soup

A celebration of nature’s bounty, this vegetarian House Special Soup is a haven for herbivores. A vibrant assortment of seasonal vegetables, tofu, and vermicelli noodles in a fragrant vegetable broth. Immerse yourself in the wholesome goodness of this garden-inspired creation.

6. Five-Spice Beef Noodle Bliss

Indulge your taste buds with the bold flavors of our Five-Spice Beef Noodle Soup. Tender beef slices marinated in a medley of spices, served with hearty noodles in a robust broth. A culinary journey that transports you to the bustling streets of authentic Chinese cuisine.

7. Dragon’s Breath Tom Yum Soup

Embark on a spicy and exotic adventure with our Dragon’s Breath Tom Yum Soup. A Thai-Chinese fusion masterpiece featuring shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, and a burst of chili heat. This House Special promises an exhilarating journey for those who crave bold and zesty flavors.

8. Szechuan Chicken and Tofu Fusion

For those seeking a symphony of spice, our Szechuan Chicken and Tofu Fusion Soup is a fiery delight. Featuring bold Szechuan flavors, tender chicken, and silky tofu, this House Special promises an explosion of taste that lingers on the palate.

9. Imperial Egg Drop Elegance

Indulge in simplicity with our Imperial Egg Drop Soup. Silky ribbons of beaten eggs gently stirred into a warm, comforting broth. A timeless classic that embodies the essence of traditional Chinese comfort food.

10. Heavenly Pork Dumpling Delight

Savor the perfection of our Heavenly Pork Dumpling Soup. Delight in plump and savory dumplings filled with seasoned pork, served in a clear and aromatic broth. A dumpling lover’s dream come true on a bowl.

Note: The availability of items on this House Special Soup Menu may vary depending on the restaurant, and seasonal ingredients may influence the offerings. Bon appétit!

House special soup calories

Determining the exact calorie count for House Special Soup can be challenging as it varies widely based on the specific recipe and ingredients used by different restaurants. However, we can provide a general estimation based on common ingredients found in such soups.

Components Affecting Caloric Content:

1. Broth:

  • Broth bases like chicken or vegetables are relatively low in calories.
  • The addition of oils, fats, or coconut milk can increase caloric content.

2. Proteins:

  • Chicken, shrimp, tofu, or other proteins contribute to calories.
  • Lean proteins generally have fewer calories than fatty cuts.

3. Vegetables:

  • Vegetables contribute to nutritional value but are generally low in calories.
  • Starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes may add more calories.

4. Noodles or Rice:

  • Noodles and rice are significant contributors to caloric content.
  • Opting for whole-grain noodles or brown rice can increase nutritional value.

5. Herbs and Spices:

  • Herbs and spices add minimal calories but enhance flavor.

Caloric Estimate

As a rough estimate, a typical bowl of House Special Soup, assuming moderate portions and a balanced mix of ingredients, may range from 150 to 300 calories per serving. However, this can vary significantly based on preparation methods and specific ingredient choices made by each restaurant.

Tips for a Healthier Option

  1. Choose Broth Wisely:
    Opt for clear broths over creamy ones to reduce fat and calorie content.
  2. Lean Proteins:
    Select lean protein sources like chicken or tofu to minimize calorie intake.
  3. Load Up on Vegetables:
    Embrace a variety of vegetables to boost nutritional value without significantly increasing calories.
  4. Moderate Noodles or Rice:
    Consider opting for smaller portions of noodles or rice to manage overall calorie intake.
  5. Be Mindful of Portion Sizes:
    Pay attention to serving sizes, as larger portions can contribute to increased calorie consumption.

For precise nutritional information, it is advisable to check with the specific restaurant or refer to nutritional databases provided by certain establishments. Additionally, some restaurants may offer lighter or healthier versions of House Special Soup for those seeking a lower-calorie option.

In conclusion, exploring the world of House Special Soup and Chinese soups in general unveils a culinary landscape rich in diversity, flavors, and cultural significance. Whether savoring a time-honored classic or indulging in a chef’s special creation, each bowl tells a story of tradition, creativity, and the artistry of Chinese cuisine.

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