Tougan Soup- Winter Melon, Ash Gourd, Wax Gourd, or White Gourd

tougan insta soup arialSo many names for this guy! So, is it really a gourd or a melon? When ripe, it’s used as a vegetable, but the unripe “fruit” is very sweet, and is used as a fruit. Interesting? I think so too! At least the Japanese could decide on one name. It’s called a Tougan (冬瓜). The kanji in this word is for winter 冬and melon瓜. Yay for fun with kanji! Why did this winter melon show up at the farmers market last month and not in December? It actually ripens during the summer, but because of the waxy exterior, it lasts long through the winter.

This vegetable is useful in ayurveda for both pitta and kapha. It’s very cooling for pitta during the summertime. It helps balance acidity for those with pitta issues like ulcers. It is also useful for diabetics and those desiring to lose weight. It’s also a diuretic so it will support in detoxification.

tougan insta sticker tougan insta ingredients tougan insta cut





The recipe:

  • 1 small tougan
  • 1 gobo stalk (burdock)
  • Fresh or Dried shiitake mushroom
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 leek
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 umeboshi (pickled plum)

tougan insta chopped tougan insta soup tougan insta soup cooking

tougan insta soup side





Bring water to a boil. Slice ginger into thin discs and add to water along with black pepper. Thinly slice leeks (soak in a bowl of water to remove dirt) and add to pot. Peel the gobo stalk, and then use the peeler to make thin strips of gobo and add right into the pot. Peel, deseed and chop tougan, then add to pot along with dried sliced shiitake mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Remove and discard pits from umeboshi, chop and add to soup. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until tougan is translucent. Turn off heat, add cilantro and serve.

Vata- swap the mushrooms for pumpkin and add some chili pepper

Kapha- only use dried shiitake mushrooms, add chili pepper

Classically, ayurveda has not made much use of mushrooms nutritionally or medicinally. There is not much information about them, except that they are regarded as being tamasic, heavy and difficult to digest, especially for vatas. The same can be said about meat, but to a lesser degree, to put things into perspective. The Japanese, however, highly value shiitake for immune support.

tougan insta mushroom tougan insta soup cloth tougan insta soup bowl

2 comments on “Tougan Soup- Winter Melon, Ash Gourd, Wax Gourd, or White Gourd

  1. filipinofoodproject says:

    Hi — first time here. Thanks for the tip! I’ve never tried tougan soup but it looks amazing. Interesting about the ripe/unripe dichotomy. Will have to keep a lookout for this, for sure! Be well — Kristine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s