Pork Rib Soup Recipe

Blending in an American Cooking Method to Kick Up the Notch of This Authentic Singapore Pork Bone Soup

Pork rib soup recipe is an authentic Asian recipe that served throughout the year. Blending in eastern and western cooking methods and other Asian ingredients, this turns out to be an irresistible dinner that you want to make it again in no time.

Pork Rib Soup Recipe | Singapore Pork Bone Soup

Total Time:
3 Hours 30 Minutes
Prep Time
: 30 Minutes  

Inactive Cook Time: 3 Hours  
Serving: 6-8

It is called Singapore Pork Bone Soup 肉骨茶. After the first time making this delicious recipe, I had been debating with myself if I should cut the volume into halves. But it was way too good that there was just not enough soup to satisfy my craving of its yumminess. As a result, I decided to stick with my original recipe.

I have been thinking of making this recipe for a while. I used to have it in Hong Kong, my hometown, but never bothered to learn how to cook it.

Then, I started to look it up online to learn about it. I must say that this version was re-arranged quite a bit to get the best of both worlds, Asian and American.

Typical recipes that I stumbled upon are to cook the spices to make broth for 30 minutes and another 45 minutes with the meat. From an Asian perspective, it is a relatively quick soup.

However, the Asian standard of ribs is only cooking the meat through without any pink color, but not falling apart. In my opinion, the texture of quick-cooking ribs feels like taking a bite of fresh celery rib. The American standard is to have the ribs falling apart. In other words, fork tender. However, I do want the ribs still intact when they are served, but tender. As a result, I choose spare ribs as the main ingredient.

I love the flavor out of the bones. So, I prefer to have ribs with plenty of bones. I guarantee you that the broth tastes like heaven. And there is barely any fat in the soup. It's super lean.


The combined cook time took about 3 hours. This was how I did it. I started cooking this whole dish the night before. After cooking the broth for 30 minutes and discard the pouch of herbs, I cook the ribs for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave everything there on the stove top to let the remaining heat continue cooking. (Side note: DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Leave everything alone and let it cool down by itself.)

Since the night I started cooking, I have repeated the same step (details is in the next paragraph) 3 more times the next day. Here were the times I did it, morning (around 8am), noon and evening before dinner was served (around 5pm).

So, all I did was bring the pot of broth and ribs to a rolling boil, turn down the heat to low boil for 30 minutes and turn off heat and walk away. The remaining heat will continue the cooking process slow and low. By the time dinner was ready, the meat will be super tender. Do you still work from home? You can multi-task by doing so. Then, dinner will be ready when you actually walk away from your work computer.

When I served this, I served it with iceberg lettuce and rice noodles. It’s also great to serve with rice.

Another awesome alternative is to serve along with wonton. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cooked frozen wonton per package instructions. Use a slotted spoon to take them out and and divided them into different serving bowls. Add hot broth, ribs and enjoy!

Can You Make This A Low-Carb Meal?

Yes, absolutely. As you know that I am on low-carb diet, except one cheat meal a week.  So, you can definitely serve this pork rib soup recipe along with iceberg lettuce and/or shirataki noodles.  Follow the recipe to cook the lettuce first and use the same pot of water to cook shirataki noodles.

What to Do with the Leftover?

The quantity I put together in this recipe may be huge. But I can guarantee you that it won’t last long even if you have leftover. This big portion served 3 people the first time along with noodles and wonton. Man, oh man...I hardly had any leftover. So, you can imagine how awesome it is that nobody could stop having not only second, but also third or fourth serving.

Depending on how much leftover you have, here is a way to store it other than dividing it into several food containers. Here is the trick passed down by my maternal grandmother.

When dinner is over, bring the whole pot of soup with ribs to a rolling boil. Cover it with lid when it is boiling if it is not covered yet. Once the soup is completely cool down, transfer the entire pot into the fridge. The soup will be good up to 5 days in the fridge.

If your fridge does not have space to fit the whole pot, you will need to bring the soup into rolling boil every day. But the soup is good up to 2 days in summer time or 3 days in winter.

Honestly, this soup recipe is so good that your leftover will not last. You may need to consider to put up a lock of your fridge. So, no one will wake up in the middle of the night to help him/herself. Just kidding!

The version that I grew up with had hard boiled eggs in it. Normally, you will boil the eggs separately. Then, crack up the shells a little bit before transferring them into the broth. The eggs will pick up all the yummy flavors.

However, the Asian style hard boiled eggs in this case are expected to boil for more than 30 minutes to get all the flavors. To the American, the eggs are overcooked by then. So, it is totally up to you whether to include hard boiled eggs or not.

Can You Use Slow Cooker/Crock Pot to Make this Soup?

You may wonder if it’s possible to make this pork rib soup recipe in a slow cooker. I have never tried it  before. It is because my crock pot is not big enough to accommodate such a big volume.

There are at least 2 conditions to fulfill before considering using this method: 1) the slow cooker is at least 8 quart in size. 2) all ingredients need to cut into half of the quantity that this recipe calls for, especially the ribs, in order to prevent overflowing. Otherwise, you are better off sticking to a big stock pot.

Pork Rib Soup Recipe and Directions

For Pork Rib Soup:
5lbs Spare Ribs (2 full rack of spare ribs)
16 Cups (or 4 Quarts) Water (It should fill your stockpot about half way full.)
12-20 cloves of Garlic (peeled; depending how much garlic you can take. I used 12 cloves.)
2 Star Anise
3 Cinnamon Sticks
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Cooking Wine
2 tbsp Chinese Light Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Chinese Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sugar
1 piece Cheese Cloth

For Lettuce and Noodles:
4 quart Water 
1 head Iceberg Lettuce (cored and cut into 8 big chunks)
8oz Dry Rice Noodles
1-2 Scallions (chopped; optional)


  1. Take the membrane of the ribs off and discard. (Click here to see the easiest way to separate the membrane from the ribs) Cut the rack into halves that they are easy to be moved around in the pot.
  2. Wrap garlic, star anise and cinnamon sticks in a cheese cloth. (It will be easier to take the entire pouch out of the broth later.)
  3. Fill your stock pot half way full with water and bring it to a boil. Add ribs in. When it boils again, let it cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Take the ribs out and put them aside for now. Use a sifter to scoop out the scum and foams from the boiling water.
  5. Add the pouch of herbs into the boiling water, add salt, white pepper, cooking wine and soy sauces in. Let everything cook in low boil for 30 minutes. Take the pouch out and discard.
  6. While waiting during that 30 minutes, rub the ribs under cold water and clean out all the impurity.
  7. Once that 30 minutes are up, transfer all ribs into the boiling broth. Don’t worry about adjust the seasoning at this time. Let it cook in low boil for about 3 hours until meat is fork tender. (At this stage, your stockpot should be around 2/3 full. If not, add a little bit of water.)
  8. You may need to flip the ribs around so that they are evenly cooked and colored from the broth.
  9. To finish it, add sugar, soy sauces and/or a little bit of salt.
  10. To serve it with noodles and vegetables, have a separate pot of water and bring it to a boil. Add iceberg lettuce into the boiling water. As soon as it is submerged into the water, take the lettuce out and transfer to serving plate. Put it aside. (The heat will continue to cook the lettuce.)
  11. Add rice noodles into the same pot of boiling water and cook per package instructions until al dente. Strain noodles in the colander. Run cold tap water to cool down noodles in order to stop the cooking process.
  12. To assemble, distribute noodles among the big soup bowls, add lettuce and ribs into the same bowl. Spoon boiling broth into the bowl and garnish with scallions (optional). Enjoy immediately.

Pork Rib Soup Recipe Steps with Photos

Garlics, start anise and cinnamon sticksWrap garlics, start anise and cinnamon sticks in a piece of cheese cloth
Garlics, start anise and cinnamon sticks wrapped in a pouchTie up the pouch tightly for easy transfer in and out of the soup pot
Spare ribs without membraneSeparate membrane from ribs and discard. Cut the whole rack of ribs into halves.
Spare ribs in boiling waterAdd ribs into boiling water and cook another 5 minutes before taking them out.
Scooping out the scum and foams from the waterUse a sifter or spoon to take out the foamy scum from the water and discard
Pouch going into the soupAdd pouch of garlics, start anise and cinnamon sticks into the water
Spare ribs going back into the soupAdd rinsed and cleaned ribs into the water and cook to make soup per recipe directions
Dry rice noodles and iceberg lettuceBefore serving the pork rib soup recipe, cook iceberg lettuce and rice noodles
Cooked iceberg lettuceCook lettuce and put it aside
Cooked and rinsed rice noodlesCook and rinse noodles in a colander to stop cooking process
Rice noodles in soup bowlDivide noodles into equal portions and transfer into several serving bowls.
Iceberg lettuce with cooked noodlesDo the same with iceberg lettuce as well
Cooked spare ribs, lettuce and noodlesAdd about 2-3 ribs into each bowl
Adding boiling pork rib soup to finish the noodle bowlAdd boiling broth and garnish with scallions. Enjoy immediately!

Serve This With: 

  • Frozen Won Ton
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Rice Noodles
  • Shirataki Noodles

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