Food made with love in a Vietnamese mom's kitchen.

Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Khổ Qua)

Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Khổ Qua)

When we were young and got sick, my mom would make this stuffed bitter melon soup. At first, I didn’t like the bitterness from the melon. But as I got older, I welcomed the taste.

My mom used to pair this soup with braised spareribs. Along with this soup, we’d have a small dish with fish sauce and Thai chili cut up into small pieces. We’d dip the bitter melon into this fish sauce. It was so good. My daughter, who was born and raised in the United States, loves this dish.

Bitter melon is said to have medicinal properties that aid in healing. It also is an acquired taste. The bitterness can be harsh. But if you cook it the right way, meaning, cook the crap out of it, the bitterness subsides.  Bitter melon can be used for many dishes, including omelets.

I made this soup on a stove top.  But you could certainly cook this in your pressure cooker.  It took about an hour for the melon to get soft.

Before you start, wash and clean the melon and slice off any blemishes.

finished bitter melon soup

Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Khổ Qua)

Healthy bitter melon soup.  Great for your health.


Stuffing for bitter melon

  • 2 large bitter melons (or 3-5 small ones)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground shrimp (use food processor or chop finely with knife)
  • 4 green onions - chopped
  • 3 oz bean thread
  • 1/2 cup dried black fungus
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp mushroom seasoning optional

For the soup

  • 4-5 quarts water
  • 2-3 oz dried shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 4 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces


  1. In three separate bowls, soak the bean threads, black fungus, and dried shrimp in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  (Note: the bean threads and black fungus will be used for the stuffing and the dried shrimp will be used for the soup base.)

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the stuffing, then add the soften bean threads and black fungus.  Set aside while the melons get prepared.

    filling for bitter melon
  3. Cut the tips of the cleaned bitter melon and discard.

  4. Cut the melon into even pieces, about 1-2 inches thick.  

  5. Use a spoon to core out the insides, being careful not to break the melon.  Clean the white membrane as well as possible.  

    core out center
  6. Stuff the center with the melon and make the sides as even as possible.  If there's leftover stuffing, pack more onto the already stuffed melon.  If there's not enough stuffing, simply cut the melon into pieces.

    stuff bitter melon
  7. In a large pot, add 4-5 quarts water and place on high heat.  

  8. Add the soften drain dried shrimp and bring the water to a boil.  Skim off any foam.

  9. Carefully, drop the stuffed melon into the pot.  Add more water if the melons are not covered.

    add enough water to cover
  10. Turn the heat down to medium to simmer.  Continue to skim off any foam.

  11. After 45 minutes, season the soup with sugar, salt, and fish sauce.  Taste, and adjust as necessary.

  12. Simmer the soup for another fifteen minutes.  Use a fork to poke the melon to be sure it's soft.  It's done when it's soft.  

  13. Turn off the heat and add the green onion pieces.


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