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A bowl of bitter melon soup on a white cloth with a gold serving spoon

Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Kho Qua)

Bitter melon soup is made with hollowed out bitter melons (bitter gourd), stuffed with a pork mince mixture and cooked in a light soup. A simple and healthy dish to be eaten with steaming white jasmine rice.
Course Rice Dish
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword bitter melon soup
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 280kcal
Author Scruff


Stuffed Bitter Melons

  • 10 gm pre-shredded black fungus / wood ear mushroom, roughly chopped
  • 40 gm bean thread noodles cut into 2 cm / 1 in
  • 800 gm bitter melon (roughly 3 large or 4 medium sized) cut into 4 cm / 1.5 in chunks
  • 500 gm pork mince
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • boiling water


  • 2.5 L water
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 spring onions cut into 10 cm / 4 in lengths
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce


Make the Stuffed Bitter Melons

  • Soak the black fungus in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain then roughly chop into 1.5 cm / 0.5 inch pieces.
  • Soak the bean vermicelli noodles for 5 minutes. Drain then chop into 1.5 cm / 0.5 inch pieces.
  • Cut the bitter melons into 4 cm / 1.5 in chunks, then use a spoon to scoop out the pith and seeds.
  • Combine the black fungus, noodles, pork mince, sugar, salt and fish sauce in a large bowl.
  • Stuff each of the bitter melons with the pork mince mixture. Roll any leftover stuffing into balls.
  • Optional Step: Put the meat balls and the stuffed melons into separate large bowls and pour boiling water over them. Gently move them around to release the scum.

Making the Soup

  • Add the water, vegetable stock powder, sugar and salt to a large stock pot and bring it to the boil on high.
  • Add the stuffed bitter melons, meat balls, spring onions and fish sauce to the soup. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 50 minutes or until tender.
  • After 50 minutes, remove one of the stuffed bitter melons and check it for tenderness. If at desired tenderness, turn off the heat. If not then allow to cook further.
  • Check the seasoning of your soup and adjust to your liking.
  • Serve with white jasmine rice and soy sauce.


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 1471mg | Potassium: 680mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 688IU | Vitamin C: 114mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg