Four Flavours Soup

Four Flavours Soup

Four Flavours Soup

This dish is based upon that well known Chinese soup called “Three Flavours“.

You tend to see two versions of this classic Chinese  soup – one containing meat, seafood, and poultry, and another variant comprised of meat, seafood, and vegetables.

The trouble is, I like both.

Then, the other day, Paleovirtus Jr. said something to me that I hadn’t even considered before.

“Make a version with everything in”, she said.  “You could call it four flavours. Simples. Where’s my consultancy fee?”

Chicken, seafood, meat, vegetables. Brilliant!

Although I call it a “soup“, this dish really sits somewhere in the no-man’s-land between “soup” and “casserole“, or “stew“.  Although you do get an awful lot of tasty broth to slurp down, there’s also quite a bit of other stuff in the pot, too.

The pork used is usually thin strips of fillet, rapidly cooked in the broth, but when I was putting this recipe together, I had just finished watching a video on the preparation of the Sichuan regional classic Twice Cooked Pork, which uses belly pork, so belly pork it had to be. Chalk one up for the slightly sinister powers of subliminal **like this post** advertising.

When I saw the quality of belly pork on offer at our local supermarket, I decided to use pancetta instead. Still belly pork, less preparation time involved, and it would also bring a delicious smokiness to the finished dish.

This is a superb mid-week one-pot winter warming wonder. The only problem comes from the impatient, hungry mob chanting the mantra “ it ready yet, is it ready yet…”

Four Flavours Soup


  • 200g of pancetta
  • 4 boned chicken thighs, skin left on
  • 170g cooked prawns
  • 2 tbsp Sake
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp Tianjin preserved vegetable
  • 200g mushrooms, wiped clean, then thickly sliced
  • 1 small head of pak choi
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 5 spring onions (scallions), whites and greens separated
  • 1 Jalapeño chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 spice powder
  • olive oil


  • Slice the pancetta into thick slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan. Bring up to medium heat, and fry the pancetta slices for about 4 minutes or so on each side , or until golden brown. Remove from the pan, leaving the olive oil and any rendered fat from the pancetta behind. Set the slices aside.
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of 5 spice powder. Fry them in the olive oil / pancetta fat, until nicely browned on both sides, about 3 – 4 minutes a side. Set aside.
  • Cut the carrot in half lengthways. Slice on the diagonal into thin, half moon strips. Set aside.
  • Break the pak choi down into individual ribs. Separate the white and green parts. Cut the white parts into strips about the same size as a postage stamp. Roll up, then thinly slice the greens. Set aside.
  • Cut the spring onion whites into ½ inch sections on the diagonal. Thinly slice the greens. Set aside.
  • Place the ginger, garlic, chilli, spring onion whites, Sake, fish sauce, and the Tianjin preserved vegetable in a large saucepan, together with about 2 litres of water. Stir well, and bring up to a low simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, mushrooms, pak choi, pancetta, and chicken thighs to the pot. Return to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add the cooked prawns to the pot, and cook for a further minute.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Serve the soup, garnished with the spring onion greens.


  • Depending on your own personal Paleo preferences, you may not want to use the Sake. If you don’t, simply omit it.
  • To make the dish truly Paleo, get hold of fish sauce that contains fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce, although if you’re in Britain Tesco’s own fish sauce fits the bill. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.


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3 thoughts on “Four Flavours Soup

  1. Pingback: Luscious Leftovers – Egg Drop Soup | PALEOVIRTUS

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