Pig’s feet, also known as trotters, are adored in many cuisines, including Southern cooking in the US. It’s easy to understand why: after a long simmer, they release gelatin to the cooking liquid, which adds richness to make a great stew or soup, or enhance the body of a quality stock.
Obviously the most important element of cooking pig’s feet is time, as slow cooking is the best way to unlock the flavors from those humble parts and put them on culinary pedestal.
The dish I’m sharing with you here is a rich and delicious soup made with pig’s feet and dried soybeans, one of my favorite winter soups. In fact, during cold weather, this soup is consumed by millions of Chinese families to stay warm and nourished.
Dried soybeans are rich in dietary protein and fiber, and can be cooked very much the same way as other dried beans or lentils. In this recipe, they turn soft and creamy when gently simmered together with the pig’s feet, and impart a distinctive aroma and rich umami to the soup.
You can turn the soup into a one-pot meal by adding leafy greens towards the end of cooking. Kale, mustard greens, spinach, and cabbage are some of the good options to consider.
If you’re short on time, make the soup with a pressure cooker, which cuts the cooking time to under an hour.
Pig’s feet and soybean soup
2 lb (900 g) pig’s feet, each split in half lengthwise and cut into sections
1 cup dried soybeans, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours
1 star anise
1-inch ginger, crushed
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
Soy sauce for dipping
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Optional: 1 cup leafy greens (I use Brussels Sprout leaves here)
- Blanch the pig’s feet in boiling water for 2 minutes. Transfer them to a colander and rinse under cold water to remove any impurities.
- In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the pig’s feet, soybeans, star anise, ginger, and Shaoxing wine. Bring the liquid to a boil again and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove impurities and foam from the surface. Cook, covered, until the pig’s feet are very tender, about 2 to 2.5 hours. Skim the surface from time to time during simmering.
- Add the leafy greens, if using, and cook briefly until crisp-tender.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve with soy sauce as a dipping sauce for the pig’s feet.
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