8 Easy Herbal Chicken Soup Recipes

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This herbal chicken soup article features 8 herbal soup recipes using different chicken cuts and a variety of Chinese herbs that go very well with it.

One of the most distinctive features of Chinese soup making is the pairing of Chinese herbs with chicken and pork.

Common Chinese herbs that go well with chicken include solomon’s seal, goji berries, Chinese yam, cordyceps and ginseng. You can use the slow cooker to make all the soups here or follow the specific cooking method listed. 

The 8 recipes featured here are all gentle nourishing chicken soups that can be consumed as part of a meal. Don’t wait till you are under the weather to prepare them.

1. Chicken soup with astragalus, red dates and goji berries

herbal chicken soup

The 3 Chinese herbs used here is also a common trio although not as famous the trinity in the first recipe. I drink this herbal chicken soup to regulate my menstrual cycle and whenever I feel giddy, have cold hands and feet. 

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 4 pieces of astragalus 黄芪 (huang qi)
  • 8 red dates 红枣 (hong zao)
  • 1 tbsp goji berries 枸杞子 (gou ji zi)
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tbsp cooking wine
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into several pieces and parboil for 2 minutes
  2. Wash the Chinese herbs
  3. Place all the ingredients in a ceramic tureen and add the water
  4. Seal and steam for 1 hour

2. Soup with spring chicken, solomon's seal, goji berries and Chinese yam

Let's start with this soup which is quinessentially Chinese because the 3 herbs used here are considered the trinity of Chinese gentle tonics. It is suitable for the whole family. 

Ingredients

  • 1 small free range spring chicken
  • 30g solomon's seal 玉竹 (yu zhu)
  • 30g dried Chinese yam 淮山 (huai shan)
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wolfberries 枸杞子 (gou ji zi)
  • 1 tbsp julienned ginger

Directions

  1. Wash and clean the chicken
  2. Soak the solomon's seal and wolfberries in room temperature water before using it
  3. Place all ingredients into a soup pot or slow cooker
  4. Add enough water to cover all ingredients
  5. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer
  6. Simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours
  7. Add salt to taste before serving

3. Herbal chicken soup with cordyceps, red dates and wolfberries

The Chinese name for cordyceps 冬虫夏草 literally means winter worm, summer grass. The weird name arises because cordyceps is actually a type of parasitic fungus growing within a caterpillar. It eventually kills the caterpillar and take over its body.

Cordyceps is highly prized as a dietary supplement for maintaining youth. It is fairly expensive and a little goes a long way.

Cordyceps and chicken is a great anti-cancer combination. It helps the body to produce anti-oxidants thereby boosting immunity and anti-aging.

High summer heat can cause dehydration and dry mouths. It is important to replenish fluids and rehydrate the body. Some people might even have feelings of oppression, like something heavy are on their chests. This can affects the appetite.

Drinking cold drinks is a quick way to relieve some of the heat but the Chinese believes in consuming hot soups even in summer.

The soup, even though hot in terms of temperature, can be cooling for the body. There are a range of ingredients that are considered gently cooling and are effective in reducing body heat. These ingredients include green beans, Job’s tears, chrysanthemum flowers and Chinese wolfberries. Incidentally, these are also good for detoxification, another important process for the body in the summer. 

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 2 cordyceps 东虫夏草 (dong chong xia cao)
  • 6 red dates 红枣 (hong zao)
  • 7 Chinese wolfberries 枸杞子 (gou ji zi)
  • 1000ml water

Directions

  1. Cut chicken thigh into pieces. Parboil for 2 minutes. Wash and trim excess fats
  2. Rinse the cordyceps, Chinese wolfberries and red dates
  3. Place the chicken pieces into a large soup bowl together with the cordyceps, Chinese wolfberries and red dates
  4. Add the water
  5. Cover soup bowl with clingwrap
  6. Steam for 1.5 hours
  7. Add salt to taste before serving

You can also cook the soup using a double-boiling jar or an electric stew pot. Place the parboiled chicken, cordyceps, goji berries and red dates into the ceramic double-boiling jar. Add the water. Cover and double boil for 1.5 hours.

4. Soup with Chinese angelica root

My grandma prepares a simple herbal chicken soup with a few slices of dang gui and red dates for me at the end of my menstrual cycle. She believes it helps clear the womb of residual blood and cleanses the blood.

Other herbs included in this recipes are quite mild and suitable in a general tonic. They are astragalus, goji berries, red dates and dried tangerine peel.

Make sure you choose a free range organic chicken that hasn't been feed with growth hormones or steroids.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 free range chicken
  • 5g Chinese angelica root 当归 (dang gui)
  • 3 pieces of astragalus 黄芪 (huang qi)
  • 1 piece of dried tangerine peel 陈皮 (chen pi)
  • 1 tbsp goji berries 枸杞子 (gou ji zi)
  • 2 red dates 红枣 (hong zao)
  • 1 bottle of rice wine
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Wash and cut the chicken into smaller pieces
  2. Parboil the chicken pieces
  3. Place the chicken, Chinese angelica root, astragalus, dried tangerine peel, goji berries and red dates into a small pot
  4. Add rice wine till it covers the ingredients
  5. Bring the pot to a boil
  6. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for another 30 minutes till most of the alcohol has been cooked out
  7. Add salt before serving

5. Soup with dang shen, goji berries and old cucumber

This herbal chicken soup recipe has all my favourite Chinese herbs: red dates, goji berries, and dang shen. This is a pleasant light herbal soup. Omit the ginger if you do not like it.

Old cucumber soup, herbal or not, makes regular appearance on dinner tables. It is also served by quite a few local Chinese restaurants as their soup of the day 例汤 (li tang).

The soup stock is made using bouillon cubes. It is a quick way to create flavour for soups. If you don't want to use it, make your own chicken soup stock or buy ready-made ones.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh chicken breast
  • 500g old cucumber 老黄瓜 (lao huang gua)
  • 1 thick slice ginger
  • 4 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 6g codonopsis root 党参 (dang shen)
  • 5 red dates 红枣 (hong zao)
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wolfberries / goji berries 枸杞子 (gou ji zi)
  • 1.8 liter of water
  • 3 bouillon cubes

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces
  2. Cut the old cucumber into sections and remove the seeds
  3. Wash and soak the dried Chinese mushrooms in hot water
  4. Wash and clean the codonopsis root and halve it if it is too long
  5. Wash the red dates and remove the seeds
  6. Bring the water to a boil and add the bouillon cubes
  7. Add all the ingredients into the chicken stock
  8. Bring soup back to a boil
  9. Low heat to a slow simmer and simmer for about 50 minutes
  10. Serve

6. Soup with black beans and du zhong

Black beans is detoxifying because it nourishes the kidneys. This is a great soup tonic for autumn.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • Half a cup of black beans
  • 1 piece of duzhong 杜仲
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 tbsp cooking wine
  • salt

Directions

  1. Cut the thigh into several pieces and parboil the pieces
  2. Wash and rinse the black beans
  3. Drain the beans and fry them in a dry flat pan till they start to crack
  4. Place chicken, duzhong and black beans in a double boiling jar
  5. Add the water and seasoning
  6. Cover and double boil for 1 hour

7. Spring soup with ginseng

In Spring, we see hay fever, dry skin, sinus and coughs. Respiratory and skin conditions are common. So soups that replenish fluids to the body and food that are beneficial to the lungs are great for spring.

If you can't get the real ginseng, replace it with 1 to 2 ginseng tea bags or 1 ginseng powder capsule.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 6 small pieces of panax ginseng 人参 (ren shen)
  • 8 red dates 红枣 (hong zao) 
  • 1 litre of water
  • 2 tbsp cooking wine
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken thigh into several large pieces and parboil for 2 minutes
  2. Rinse the ginseng pieces and red dates
  3. Place the chicken pieces, ginseng and red dates into a ceramic jar
  4. add the water, cooking wine and cover
  5. Steam in a wok or large pot for 1 hour
  6. Season with salt to taste
  7. Serve

8. Korean ginseng chicken soup (samgyetang)

The Chinese like to add ginseng to their chicken soup but I think the Koreans has perfected the art with their samgyetang. The addition of glutinous rice adds warmth and a sort of groundedness to the dish. A very comforting dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 spring chicken
  • 10 red dates 红枣 (hong zao)
  • 1 korean ginseng (or korean ginseng tea bags)
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 8 chestnuts
  • 1 cup of long-grained glutinous rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp rice wine
  • Cooking tools
  • Toothpicks
  • 1 ceramic tureen

Directions

  1. Clean the spring chicken especially the cavity of the chicken
  2. Remove the shelf of the chestnuts, and seeds of the red dates
  3. Wash and rinse the red dates, chestnuts, pine nuts and rice
  4. Mix 5 of the 10 red dates, pine nuts, chestnuts and glutinous rice together in a small bowl
  5. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the red dates, pine nuts, chestnuts and glutinous rice
  6. Add the korean ginseng and close the opening of the chicken with toothpicks
  7. Place the spring chicken, rest of the red dates, salt and rice wine into the ceramic tureen
  8. Add enough water to cover the ingredients
  9. Seal the tureen with cling wrap
  10. Steam the tureen in medium heat for 3 hours

If you don't fancy doing all these work just to enjoy homecooked samgyetang, you try this Korean Traditional Ginseng Chicken Stew from Haitai. Note that the chicken is included. 

Alternatively, you can just buy the ingredient kit. Here's one to try: Samgyetang Ingredient Kit (Ginseng, Jujube, Chest Nut and Sweet Rice), 1-2 Person Servings By Choripdong.

Happy Souping, Phoebe




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