Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup (as a Hot Pot Base)

Soup Name:

Traditional Chinese Herbal Soup

Traditional Chinese Name:

藥膳雞煲 (yàoshàn jī bāo)

This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste.

 

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

This soup has a very distinctive smell and taste of a Chinese medicinal shop.  It’s definitely a love or hate initially, but can be acquired.  The key ingredient is the “dong quai” or “angelica root” that creates that fragrant (debatable?) scent.  I’ve learned to love it after so many years of being in Hong Kong and once you taste the soup, wow!

This soup is the ultimate warming winter hot pot delight.  You literally feel yourself getting hot and sweaty after one bowl.  It’s literally a powerful tonic that replenishes blood and Qi, improves circulation, and detoxifies the body.

 

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 2 hours 40 mins

Total time: 3 hours 10 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

Soup base:

Hot pot ingredients:

 

  • fresh napa cabbage
  • assorted mushrooms
  • fresh hard tofu

This powerhouse healing ingredient is the key ingredient to your Chinese herbal soup!  The dong quai is warm, slightly sweet and slightly bitter, and a common herb used to promote warmth, replenish blood, and replenish yang.  This is why it’s such a common ingredient used in post partum and confinement recipes.  It’s also commonly used in healing tonics.  

I will only use this ingredient for this type of herbal soup as it’s got a very distinct pungent scent and taste.  When combined with sweeter ingredients such as red dates and goji berries, it’s really quite delicious!

 

Cooking Instructions
  1. Add your dried herbal base directly into a pot and add in 3L of cold water
  2. Cover and boil on high heat for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces
  4. In a shallow pan, put them skin side down to render the fat out of the chicken and crisp up the skin (no oil needed!)
  5. Add salt and garlic to flavour as needed
  6. Once the soup is boiled for 30 minutes, you can move your crispy chicken to the soup.  I will usually rinse in warm water first to get rid of the extra oil, bone bits, and debris
  7. Cover and boil on medium for 2 hours (checking that it doesn’t boil over)
  8. At this point your soup is done!  You can drink as is or prepare to add your hot pot ingredients
  9. Prepare your hot pot ingredients an add to your soup
  10. Boil on high for 10 minutes
  11. Serve and enjoy!
  12. Drink your soup first with some of the ingredients added.  I won’t even begin the hot pot yet and just enjoy a soup as is!

Chef tips!

  • For your protein, use chicken (or pork).  This compliments the herbal base very well versus pork or red meats.
  • For your hotpot ingredients, use less intense flavor ingredients and ones that will absorb more the flavours of the soup such as leafy light coloured vegetables like napa cabbage or regular cabbage versus choy sum or gailan.  Tofu is a great additive as well and fresh mushrooms work well.
  • You can add udon or vermicelli as part of your meal
  • If you’re going to cook other meats or seafood, save that for the end as it will change the flavour of the herbal soup 

For videos, visit us on YouTube.

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Basic Chicken Soup (Base)

Basic Chicken Soup (Base)

Basic Chicken Soup (Base)

Soup Name

Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

Traditional Chinese Name:  

清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

 

Here is another version of the basic chicken soup.  I’ll make this so that it can serve as a base for noodles, macaroni, with rice, or for double-boiling soups.  You can mix and match the types of vegetables to bring out the types of flavours you like, but I will usually always use some chicken bones, legs, or carcass along with dried scallops (these are almost a must for the stock soup!).   

The benefits:

  • Perfect for any soup base. You can simply add your favourite vegetables or even Chinese herbs.
  • This soup is perfect for cooler days as it’s slightly warming
  • Perfect for confinement, postpartum, and post period
  • Ideal for the whole family, including children
  • These ingredients are readily available in most Chinese supermarkets around the world, all you need is just a chicken!
  • Be sure to to consult your (Chinese) doctor first if you’re unsure of consumption or suitability
  • You can store this soup base in a plastic container (or jar with a wide mouth so it’s easier to use back later) for up to 6 months in the freezer
  • I’ve used this as a soup base for both noodles soups and even hotpot!  It’s very versatile in what you can do with it!

What’s involved?

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 3 hours 30 mins

Serves: 8 bowls 

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin to boil a separate pot for blanching the meat
  2. Soak the dried conpoys and dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes, the mushrooms may need longer, until they are soft, but since it’s for the soup base, it’s ok if they are still a bit hard.
  3. You can also begin to boil your soup water
  4. When your blanching water boils, add in the chicken bones and boil on high heat for 5 minutes. Make sure the water is boiling and you should see residue, fat, grim, and even foam come to the surface.
  5. In the meantime, you can prepare all your vegetable ingredients for the base.  I will cut the onion in half, keeping on the stem so it stays intact and cut the carrots and corn into large pieces so I can easily remove them from the pot.
  6. Once your soup water boils, remove the meat from the blanching pot and shake off any excess and slowly lower into your soup water
  7. Add in dried conpoys, dried mushrooms, and all the vegetables into the pot
  8. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
  9. Reduce heat to the lowest and cover and let it simmer like that for another 2-3 hours (or use a thermal pot). The soup should now be a rich, golden color after boiling for so long. Be sure to scoop out any oil, fat bits, or skin from the top with an oil scooper.
  10. And you can also remove all the ingredients with a strainer so that you’re left with a beautiful soup base which you can use for other soups or dishes!

For video on “7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients”, visit us on YouTube.

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        The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Chinese Confinement

        THE DO’s and DON’T’s Of Chinese Confinement

        It all starts with one key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine:  Re-balance the Yin and Yang in the body.

        The energy in the body post birth is normally in an increased yin (cooling) state due to the loss of blood and fluids during childbirth.  This means there is more yin in the body than normal and the yang (warming) needs to be strengthened (or replenished).

        This is the basis of the traditional DO’s and DON’T’s of Chinese Confinement.  Keep in mind that historically, without technology, heating, or the luxuries we have today, some of these traditions held very true.  However, my guidance is for you to take the principles and tweak it so it fits your lifestyle, your environment, and whatever your resources allow.  For example, DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR is one that you will hear very often.  The wet hair induces dampness into the body and as it air dries, it becomes cold, which also increases yin into the body through the head.  However, modern technology allows for heated spaces and hair dryers.  So if you do wash your hair, be sure to do so in a heated room and then blow dry your hair on medium to high heat until it is fully dried.

        Don’t be exposed to windy or cool conditions

         

         

        Yang itself is the warming and dry element of the two and is difficult to replenish if the external environment doesn’t allow it.  In fact, it may be the opposite in that more Yin is going into the body if it’s too cool, too damp, or too wet in and around the healing body.

        This is why you’ll see pregnant women wearing wooly hats in the summer in Hong Kong.  At all costs, eliminate any opportunity where any parts of your exposed body are to cool, cold, or wet conditions.  Here are some examples:

        • If you’re breastfeeding and have your shoulders exposed, use a towel, shawl, or wrap to cover them
        • If you must have air conditioning on, turn the vents towards the ceiling or walls and have the cooler air circulate on the outside edges
        • Wear thicker socks or slippers if you’ve got tiled or colder floors.  The feet are one source where yang can easily leave the body.
        • Exercise in moderation, paying attention to sweat rate and exposure of sweaty skin to the cold air.  I find gentle yoga or light stretching where you aren’t sweating buckets is good (but pay attention to which muscle you’re stretching, will explain further down).
        • This goes on to support the DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR or DO NOT TAKE BATHS (with normal water) traditions, however, you still can if you’re able to keep the room warm and dry off immediately, including drying your hair thoroughly after you wash it.

         

        Don’t overexert the body

         

        This has more to do with the use of energy in the body and how it’s being resourced.  The priority of your energy should be on allowing the body to fully heal during confinement.  This is where confinement gets its terminology.  Traditionally, it’s basically the woman lying in bed, pretty immobile for a whole month.  This is highly impractical and unlikely in modern times, but some of the concept of energy preservation still apply.

        This includes:

        • DO NOT LIFT HEAVY THINGS.  The exertion applies very similarly to when you’re pregnant in that you don’t want any muscle strain to the uterus at all.  As these parts of the post partum body are healing, use the same principles.
        • IF YOU MUST, EXERCISE LIGHTLY AND IN MODERATION.  If you must exercise, although some TCM’s and Pui Yuets (Chinese Confinement Ladies) will frown upon this, do it in a way that’s minimal exertion.  Light stretching of legs and arms, but avoid the core area (unless you’re doing it wrapped) because that’s where the tradition of wrapping helps pull the stomach and core muscles back into place.
        • DO NOT DO HOUSEHOLD CHORES.  I wish!  Haha… however, this is the traditional way of managing confinement.  You usually had your mother, mother-in-law, or a Pui Yuet who can support you, but that’s a far ask in modern times.  It’s definitely easier in countries where hired help is more economical, but that’s where some planning will help you manage.  Pre-bought and prepared meals ahead of confinement will save you many trips to the grocery store and the prep work.  Source healthy food delivery or food preparation vendors.  Enlist the help of neighbours, family, or friends, including other children.  Recognize and accept trade offs.

         

        As my second post partum began, we let go of my helper in Hong Kong.  In my head, I had my mom fly over and I was a strong empowered woman, so I could do it!  Right?  I was so wrong!

        I was trying to do it all.  I was trying to be the great mom to my first daughter, the helpful daughter to my mom, the great wife to my husband, and the super housewife, but every time I see a Chinese doctor now, they always ask me to have a third baby so I can go through confinement again and do it properly and fix all the wrongs in my body!  It’s that crazy?

        My lessons learned is that there have to be trade offs.  So what if you have a messy house?  So what if you’re wearing the same clothes for 4 days straight?  Protect your body.  It’s only 30 days.

        Lisa

        Do consume warm and drying (yang-nourishing) food and drinks

         

        e of the most important part of confinement is the food and drinks you consume during this important period of your healing.  The key principle here is that anything (from a TCM perspective) nourishing the yang, mainly characterized by warming ingredients. 

        Warming ingredients include:

        • GINGER, GINGER, GINGER.  The best type is to start with raw ginger and then find uses for its peel and the root itself.  You can find this in many (if not all) confinement recipes.
        • SESAME SEEDS.  Black is best, but white are also OK.  Sesame seeds are warming and can nourish yang nicely.  I’d suggest buying a bucket of these and sprinkle over white rice, dishes, stews, and even into your soups.
        • SESAME OIL.  Similar to above, this is best used in stews and dishes and all of your cooking.
        • BLACK VINEGAR.  Perfect for confinement and found commonly in the Pig’s Feet Vinegar Soup.  This is a great condiment to have as part of your confinement garnishes.  One favourite dish I like is the stewed pork ribs in black vinegar with sugar.
        • This also means avoiding foods that are deep fried, hard to digest, raw, considered toxic (goose, beef) or cooling (seafood, watermelon, ice cream, bubble tea)

        For a selection soups for confinement, check out our CONFINEMENT SOUPS.

        You can also explore our selection of CONFINEMENT FOODS.  Here we explore all the CAN and CANNOT eat ingredients.

        • Maintaining a dry environment is also important.  This is because the principle includes dispelling both cold and moisture from the body to replenish the yang and avoid retention.  Water itself is a cool element and associated as yin.

         

         

        Do create a warming environment for the body

         

        Beyond the DO NOT’s of sitting in front of the air conditioning or exposing parts of your body to the air, what you want to do is be conscious and intentional with creating a warm space and moments for your body.  In some instances, ginger is your friend here as well, which is weird, but stay with me!

        This includes:

        • DO OVERUSE GINGER.  Here’s how you can get creative with ginger.  The peel (along with a mix of other Chinese herbs) can be dried and used to soak your feet (a great way to get yang into the body), wash your hair, and bathe in.  I would suggest using a soup bag to store all the dried ingredients so you can take it out easily and dispose of.  You can use the peels as large dried pieces into a foot soak at least once a day.  I did this before bedtimes and it helped me sleep so well!
        • DO KEEP EXTREMETIES AND HEAD COVERED.  This means, hands, feet, head, back of neck, shoulders, elbows crease, back of knees, back of ears, and ankles are sufficiently covered and not exposed to cold or air.  You’ll notice that all these body parts have pressure points when it comes to TCM and acupuncture.  There is no such thing as overdressing.  Actually, my Chinese doctor says, there is no such thing as over-nourishing during confinement!
        • DO COOK OR HEAT UP EVERYTHING THING FIRST.  This means food or drinks, too.  This is part of the warming environment, which is just as important in terms of what you put into your body.  DO NOT EAT RAW FOOD.  This is part of principle in staying with warm and cooked foods and drinks.  And I know sometimes you get so thirsty when breastfeeding, especially if you’re in an Asian country (where it’s humid and hot), so I ended up making a dried herbal tea of longans and red dates and let it cool to room temperature.  That’s how cool as I’ll drink.  Nothing with ice.  Nothing colder than body temperature ideally.

         

        TCM FACT

        Children are naturally energetic and full of yang.  They are constantly moving, running, on the go, and vibrant.  As we age, we lose that ability to hold that yang in and our energy decreases and as we become older, we become more yin and actually prefer to slow down.  This is very natural.

        Knowing this, in general, it means that younger mothers can hold more yang and replenish it easier than older mothers.  It is encouraged to replenish yang as you age (regardless of whether it’s post partum or not).  This will also help reduce hot flashes (during menopause) and con conserve their Qi in later parts of their lives.

        I’ve started consuming a cup of dried longans and red dates tea midday since I turned 40!  I may need it even more now that I’m in Canada and definitely feeling the cold.

         

        FOLLOW OUR Confinement STORIES

        A selection of confinement Chinese Soups

        What is confinement and confinement stories

        Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story

        Some confinement foods for your tummy!

        The DO's and DON'T's of confinement

        GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

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        Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

        Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

        Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

        Soup Name

        Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

        Traditional Chinese Name:  

        清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

         

        This is the base Chinese Chicken Soup stock that I make for any of my Chinese soups. It’s simple, straight-forward, and delicious on its own. It does take some preparation in that you need to blanch all the meats, soak the conpoys for at least 10 minutes, quarter the chicken, and then add everything together. And then patience, for a few hours to let it all simmer together. This is perfect for freezing for usage with soups later on, so I do suggest to make more! Perfect for the whole family and any condition.

        The benefits:

        • Perfect for any soup base. You can simply add your favourite vegetables or even Chinese herbs.
        • This soup is perfect for cooler days as it’s slightly warming
        • Perfect for confinement, postpartum, and post period
        • Ideal for the whole family, including children
        • These ingredients are readily available in most Chinese supermarkets around the world, all you need is just a chicken!
        • Be sure to to consult your (Chinese) doctor first if you’re unsure of consumption or suitability
        • You can store this soup base in a plastic container (or jar with a wide mouth so it’s easier to use back later) for up to 6 months in the freezer

         

        What’s involved?

        Prep time: 30 mins

        Cook time: 3 hours

        Total time: 3 hours 30 mins

        Serves: 8 bowls 

        Ingredients

        Cooking Instructions

        1. Optional step the night before is to salt the pork shanks and chicken overnight and wrap and store in the fridge to let it sit.  This will allow the flavors to marinate and soften the meat.
        2. Begin to boil a separate pot for blanching the meat
        3. Soak the dried conpoys in warm water for 10 minutes
        4. Prepare your chicken and cutting it into quarters (or any size you prefer)
        5. When your blanching water boils, add in the pork and chicken and boil on high heat for 5 minutes. Make sure the water is boiling and you should see residue, fat, grim, and even foam come to the surface.
        6. Begin to boil your soup water
        7. Once your soup water boils, remove the meat from the blanching pot and shake off any excess and slowly lower into your soup water
        8. Add in dried conpoys
        9. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
        10. Reduce heat to the lowest and cover and let it simmer like that for another 2-3 hours (or use a thermal pot). The soup should now be a rich, golden color after boiling for so long. Be sure to scoop out any oil, fat bits, or skin from the top with an oil scooper

        For video on “7 Basic Chinese Soup Pantry Ingredients”, visit us on YouTube.

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            This soup is using the base chicken soup recipe that is perfect for double-boiling.  For example, the only additional ingredient added here is the ginseng on top of the soup base.

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              AN INTRODUCTION to YIN and YANG in OUR EVERYDAY SOUPS AND FOODYes, that ever so common Cantonese phrase "yeet hay"!  Well, did you know, that yeet hay actually means, excess yang?  Although sometimes, it could be mistaken as yin deficiency.  And there are actually...

              Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

              Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

              Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

              Soup Name

              Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

              Traditional Chinese Name:  

              清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

               

              The Chinese have a whole repertoire of herbs which can be added to Chinese soups and is no exception.  Among these herbs, there are a variety of traditional herbs that go well with Chicken.  I’ve selected a few for the purpose of this soup ensuring a light combination of herbs for the whole family.  This is actually designed for my teenage daughter who has recently started her period.  So something light, but sufficient enough for her bodily needs.

              What’s involved?

              Prep time: 30 mins

              Cook time: 2 hours

              Total time: 2 hours 30 mins

              Serves: 4-6 bowls

              Ingredients

              Cooking Instructions

              1. Begin to soak all the herbs in warm water (to clean them) for about 15 minutes and rinse
              2. You can begin to boil your soup pot water
              3. In a separate pot, blanch the quartered chicken ensuring that it is all boiling within the water for 7 minutes.  This process will both clean it and remove the initial fat.  You can keep the skin on if you’d like, but be sure to use an oil scooper to remove the top layer of fat.  Drain and set aside for soup use.
              4. Once your soup water boils, add the blanched chicken into the water and all the soaking herbal ingredients
              5. Bring to a medium boil for 30 minutes covered
              6. You can now either reduce boil to a low heat, but be sure it’s still simmering for another 1.5 hours covered, or transfer to a self cooking thermal pot for another 2 hours.
              7. Salt as needed, although to be honest, if there are dried seafood ingredients, less salt is needed.
              8. Serve and enjoy!

              Soup Benefits:

              • This soup is perfect for cooler days as it’s slightly warming, so a great transition soup for Autumn
              • It’s also great for as a winter soup, particularly if you add Black Silkie Chicken
              • A majority of the herbal ingredients can be found in a Chinese Soup Basic Ingredients Pantry
              • Perfect for confinement, postpartum, and post period
              • Ideal for the whole family, including children
              • These ingredients are readily available in most Chinese supermarkets around the world, all you need is just a chicken!
              • Be sure to to consult your (Chinese) doctor first if you’re unsure of consumption or suitability

              Red Dates Longan Chinese Herbal Tea

              Red Dates Longan Chinese Herbal Tea

              The easiest of #teas to make at home to help promote blood flow, strengthen the #heart, and promote sleep. This #Chinese #herbal tea is best drank before bedtime, after #dinner. I simply used 6 dried #longans, 2 dried red #dates, and a handful of dried #wolfberries. It is a slightly #warming tea and allows for good circulation of #qi. This #drink is ideal for people who do not get enough rest, are overworked, women who have recently given birth, and people who have deficiencies in qi and blood. Remove the seeds from the red dates (as they seeds are known to be heaty in a bad way), steep everything for 5 minutes in hot (boiling) water, and enjoy!

              Other similar recipes include:

              Red Dates Tea

              Wood Ear & Red Dates Tea

              Red Dates Hawthorn Tea

               

              You can find the video of how to make this here: