Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

Soup Name:

Warming Sweet Yam with Ginger and Red Dates Dessert Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

蕃薯糖水 (gān shǔ táng shuǐ)

Nature:  Warming

Taste: Sweet

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

 

Tips for an amazing sweet yam and ginger dessert soup:

 

  • I tend to use smaller cuts of sweet yam, about 1-inch cubes, because they are bite-sized and cook faster
  • Adjust your ginger accordingly.  The more you put in, the spicier it becomes.  When my girls were small children, I’d put less ginger, but now that they’re practically adults, I load on the ginger, especially during the winter and after their periods
  • Adjust your sugar as well based on taste.  You can also use brown sugar or cane sugar.  I’m not a fan of white processed sugar for this type of dessert soup because it doesn’t have that rich, golden flavour that the rock or cane sugar offers.
  • This dessert soup can keep in the fridge for a few days.  Just re-boil and serve and it’s just as delicious!

This sweet dessert is traditional to Hong Kong and the Chinese.  Literally, in Cantonese it means “Sweet Potato Sugar Water”. The simplest form of it is found here, although variations can have different herbs and ingredients that make it far more unique.  It is a warm and heaty dessert (especially if you use more ginger) and said to be extremely nourishing and helps removes toxins.  I enjoy this dessert all year round and my children especially love it.  Keep the sugar and ginger content low if intended for children.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 35 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients
  • 2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes (can use any variety of sweet potatoes) – for this one, I went with the harder orange variety.  The skin and flesh are both orange.
  • 10 thin slices of ginger
  • 5 dried red dates, halved and cored
  • rock sugar (adjust accordingly to taste)
  • 2 L of water
Cooking Instructions
  1. Start boiling your soup water
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized cubes
  3. Slice ginger thinly (with or without skin) and drop into your soup
  4. Add in the dried red dates
  5. Cover and boil on medium for 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. I will use a chopstick to poke them, usually around 15 minutes on high heat will suffice.
  6. Add in your rock sugar and adjust taste accordingly.  I don’t like it overly sweet, so it’s really based on personal preference!
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

Soup Name:

Double-boiled Healing and Warming Chicken and Ginger with Red Dates Chinese Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

炖雞湯 (dun jī tāng).  This is the most generic soup name for a double-boiled soup (炖) chicken soup.  In general, when you use this term, it’s recognized as a healing, warm Chinese chicken soup, although the herbs may vary.  These are normally dense, highly flavourful, and packed with healing properties.

Nature:  Very warm

Taste: Sweet

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

 

Why the double-boil?

Double-boiling is a common cooking method in Chinese soups, usually reserved for richer, deeper flavoured soups with more herbs and density in its nutrition.  It is served in smaller portions and normally contains chicken (and sometimes pork with the chicken) to enhance its flavour and density.  The idea of double-boiling is to allow a gentle heat without the velocity and bubbling of the liquid to disturb a gentle “coaxing” of the flavours out.  It’s a very deliberate (and long) way of cooking as most double-boiled soups require at least 3 hours of boiling. 

Double-boiling itself will require a little more equipment instead of just one pot.  The double-boil is actually a pot within a pot.  The inner pot is usually made of clay, glass, or ceramic – something that’s NOT metal.  The outer pot can be anything that can hold the inner pot within it and enough water to cover at least half of the bottom of the pot.  What happens is the heat of the water then heats up the inner pot, which gently cooks the contents of the soup.  It will also never reach boiling within the inner pot because of heat transfer dynamics (oh, here we go again with thermodynamics).

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 3 hours 

Total time: 3 mins 15 mins

Serves: 4 bowls

Ingredients

  • 500 g of chicken breast (keep whole)
  • 10 whole dried red dates (pitted)
  • 10 slices of fresh ginger
  • 7-8 cups of cold water (average is 2 cups per bowl if you’re making individual portions)

Cooking Instructions

  1. In your outer pot, fill with enough water to cover up to 3/4 of your inner pot in height (to maximize the surface area of heat that the inner pot is boiling in).  You don’t want the water to be boiling inside and spilling into the inner pot though, so this will take some experimentation with your equipment. 
  2. Begin to boil your outer pot on high heat while you prepare your inner pot
  3. Add in the chicken breast (whole), sliced ginger, and red dates and cold water
  4. Cover the inner pot and lower into your outer pot (doesn’t matter if it’s boiling or not).  I will lower it in before it boils actually as it’s easier, but some people do say to put it in boiling water.  You can read this exploratory article on whether to use hot or cold water for blanching meats to read the science behind it for meats. 
  5. Turn the heat up until the outer water begins to boil softly and keep it at the temperature for the next 3 hours.  You can check on the water to see if it it needs refill, making sure it remains 3/4 covering the inner pot for maximum cooking effectiveness.
  6. Once that’s done, you can scoop from the inner pot and serve and enjoy!  

The back story to this specific soup is that it was designed to:

  • Increase yang deficiency and rebalance the body
  • Warm the body and improve blood and Qi flow
  • Support older women and men to harmonize yin and yang in the body (especially women 40+ and men 50+)
  • Reduce stress and relax the shen (spirit) 

 You can explore this article on “what it means to have cold hands and feet” and how this soup can help!

 

Would love to hear if you have any further suggestions and thoughts in the comments below!

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What does it mean to have cold hands and feet?  How to replenish qi and yang

What does it mean to have cold hands and feet? How to replenish qi and yang

What does it mean to have cold hands and feet? How to replenish qi and yang

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

How to use this guide:

  • This is purely a reference guide 
  • Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor

What does it mean to have cold hands and feet?

Cold hands and feet are often associated with slow or weak Qi in the body, which is the critical energy source for being alert and active.

You may also want to feel like you want to be warm all the time. This is because the circulation of both Qi and blood is slowed and doesn’t carry the blood or warmth as quickly. 

Yang deficiency can also be mistaken for excess yin as they produce the same “cold feeling” in the body.  One key difference is how it shows up in the tongue and the amount of dampness in the body.

Symptoms of yang deficiency vs excess yang:

  • The color, texture, and coating of the tongue is different.  For deficiency in yang, the tongue will be swollen with a pale, clear (or translucent white) tongue with a wet coating, while a excess in yin will likely be indicated by a yellow or white thicker wet coating on the tongue.  
  • While both can show up as feeling cold in the body, excess yin will usually be associated with phlegm in the lungs, where yang deficiency will not.
  • Their cause also differs from how these conditions emerge.  For deficiency in yang, this is normally caused by internally driven conditions such as overworking, overexercising, or overexertion of the body.  In order to have excess yin, this normally starts with over exposure to external wind-cold or over exposure to dampness, which can include both weather, conditions (such as humidity) or cold and damp foods (such as ice cream, cold drinks, cold and raw fruit, and even salads – which is why the Chinese cook all their vegetables normally).

Type of soups and teas to make to replenish qi and yang (for yang deficiency):

Here are a few key principles to think about when designing or making soups that will help with yang deficiency and to help you replenish qi and yang.

  •  Use dried red dates in your teas or soups and be sure to have the pits removed as they are fiery and can create too much heat in the body.  Red dates help tonify the qi and blood, which also replenishes qi and blood, and helps those who have too much “cold” in the body, helping it warm up. 
  • Use fresh ginger as well, to support yang deficiency.  This is a powerhouse ingredient that warms and helps with qi circulation, especially around the middle burner (section around the stomach and contains all the digestive organs). 
  • The best protein for warming soups and to support yang deficiency is chicken.  My Chinese doctor recommends chicken breast (versus chicken with bones) so that you can maximize all the protein possible from the meat.  You can also use a black silkie chicken for this purpose.
  • Drink a power soup weekly (if you’re over 40 for a woman, as men can start at 50 and still be OK), especially if it’s winter. This is also a power soup for women who have just had a baby as “the postpartum period is critical for maternal health status after childbirth [1]”.

  1. Yang, Xiao et al. “Maternal postnatal confinement practices and postpartum depression in Chinese populations: A systematic review.” PloS one vol. 18,10 e0293667. 30 Oct. 2023, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0293667

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Cooling and Healing Chinese Herbal Tea for Coughs and Fevers

Cooling and Healing Chinese Herbal Tea for Coughs and Fevers

Cooling and Healing Chinese Herbal Tea for Coughs and Fevers

Soup Name:

Cooling and Healing Chinese Herbal Tea for (Dry) Coughs and Fevers

Traditional Chinese Name:

止咳茶 (zhǐké chá) – direct translation here is “anti-cough” tea.  There are many teas that have earned the right to this label, so it’s just easier to use it as such instead of labeling all the ingredients.

Nature:  Cooling

Taste: Sweet and slightly bitter

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On the go tip:  Use a portable thermos if you want to enjoy Chinese herbal teas on the go.  I will put the ingredients in recyclable tea bags for easier consumption and disposal.

Have a dry cough?  (And / or a fever)?  Which can also include a dry, heaty nose?

This cooling tea is perfect for moisturizing the body and lungs and supporting a dry cough or fever.  It’s got the sweet, cool elements with the dried chrysanthemum flowers and cough support in the monk fruit, which helps moisten the lungs.  The apricot kernals and added honey also help relieve coughs.

This tea is super easy to make and delicious to drink!  You can consider using a tea bag to keep the ingredients together for easier disposal.

 

 

 

What’s involved?

Cook time: 2 mins 

Total time: 2 mins

Serves: 1 cup

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a disposable, recyclable tea bag, add in the dried chrysanthemum flower, apricot kernals, and dried monk fruit and seal
  2. Put this into a thermos bottle or a cup
  3. Fill with hot water and cover and steep for at least 2 minutes
  4. Add in honey, stir and mix
  5. Serve and enjoy! 

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Beetroot Vegetables in a Chinese Herbal Pork Broth

Beetroot Vegetables in a Chinese Herbal Pork Broth

Beetroot Vegetables in a Chinese Herbal Pork Broth

Soup Name:

Beetroot Vegetables in a Chinese Herbal Pork Broth

Traditional Chinese Name:

紅菜頭集菜湯 (hóng cài tóu jí cài tāng)

Nature:  Neutral in nature

Taste: Sweet and savory

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Beetroots turn the soup into this amazing bright red colour, which does reflect the bright taste of the soup!

I use simple vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes to keep it clean tasting with pork bones and minimal herbs.

This combination is slightly sweet, a bit tart, and deliciously savory.  It makes for a great meal and can be serve with rice.  I will also eat the pork bones dipped in soy sauce!

Overall, this soup is quite neutral as all the vegetables and even the herbs are neutral in nature.  You can use this with chicken bones if you’d like and change up the vegetable mix to consider adding:

  • carrots
  • celery
  • corn
  • chayotes (are also a nice touch) 

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 120 minutes 

Total time: 150 mins

Serves: 8 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of fresh pork bones
  • 1 bunch of fresh beetroots 
  • 2 fresh potatoes
  • 3 fresh tomatoes
  • 10 dried scallops
  • 3 dried sugar dates
  • 5 dried Chinese yam
  • 1 handful of unsalted processed cashews (raw are also OK)
  • 2L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a pot of cold water, add in your fresh pork bones and bring to a boil on high heat.  When the water boils and you see brown foam rise to the top, you can drain, rinse, and set aside for your soup later.
  2. Cut up your vegetables into edible sizes.  I tend to keep the potatoes a bit larger so that they have buffer to disintegrate a bit and still be large enough to scoop out.
  3. In your soup pot, add a bit of oil and fry the potatoes on medium heat until the edges are a lovely golden brown.  This will bring a beautiful fragrance to the soup and allow the potatoes to stay together better as the soup boils.
  4. Once the potatoes are nicely browned, add in your water and then drop in your herbs and bones.  Cover and let that come to a boil.
  5. Once the water boils, I will add in all the remaining vegetables (including optional cashews) and then cover and lower the heat to a low-med and all that to boil for another 1.5 hours.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

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What’s the best way to blanch meats for Chinese Soups?

What’s the best way to blanch meats for Chinese Soups?

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BLANCH MEATS FOR CHINESE SOUPS?

(Do you use cold water?  Boiling water?  With ginger?  With instant coffee?  With salt?  What’s the best way for flavour and taste experience?)

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.

Why I blanch my meats…

I will either blanch or panfry most of my fresh protein for a few reasons:

  • I don’t like the foam that accumulates at the top of the soup once the protein comes to a boil (usually bones will do that) – this is from the protein boiled out that coagulates, trapped inside the air bubbles of the soup and then create a foamy layer at the top.  This foam tastes rather unpleasant…
  • I want to remove any extra bone bits, blood, fats, or other protein that boil into the soup.  Admittedly, I’m not the cleanest chicken chopper and may take a few swipes at the back or legs of a chicken and want to be sure I don’t have any dangerous bone bits floating around.
  • Remove as much excess fat as possible.  This is particularly true for chicken or duck based soups.

What’s “blanch-able”?

  • I will blanch most of my meat or seafood proteins that I use for soups (except fish – see below)
  • All pork bones, this includes ribs, leg bones, feet, all organs, neck and back bones).  Pork bones that have marrow, blood portions, or cut bone parts tend to produce the most foam
  • While organ meats don’t produce foam, blanching them in fresh ginger will help remove the “fishy” taste and smell and produce a cleaner tasting soup
  • All chicken parts, including head, feet, back, and organs.  Chickens tend to be a fattier meat and the blanch will help remove some of the fat bits
  • All duck parts as well, for the same reason that duck is a fattier protein.  Using roast duck is actually super tasty, but does have high fat content
  • Most seafood to be blanched in water with ginger as well to remove any “fishy” taste and smell
  • Fish can flash boil, such as salmon, but I will often just panfry them with ginger, garlic, and green onions prior to using them in soups
  • Anything else you blanch?

Do you blanch your proteins for Chinese soups? 

If so, what’s your experience on method?

  1. Wolke, R. (2002) Stock Options, Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/food/2002/01/23/stock-options/910157e7-935a-4906-9d1e-ef3e395a4f5b/ (Accessed: 6 December 2023).
  2. Francis, A. (2022) What in the World Is That Foamy Scum on My Chicken Stock? Available at: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/soup-scum#:~:text=What%20is%20that%20scummy%20stuff,at%20Drexel%20University%20in%20Philadelphia. (Accessed: 5 December 2023).

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