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.
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!
Add your dried herbal base directly into a pot and add in 3L of cold water
Cover and boil on high heat for 30 minutes.
Cut your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces
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!)
Add salt and garlic to flavour as needed
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
Cover and boil on medium for 2 hours (checking that it doesn’t boil over)
At this point your soup is done! You can drink as is or prepare to add your hot pot ingredients
Prepare your hot pot ingredients an add to your soup
Boil on high for 10 minutes
Serve and enjoy!
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!
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
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!).
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!
Begin to boil a separate pot for blanching the meat
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.
You can also begin to boil your soup water
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.
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.
Once your soup water boils, remove the meat from the blanching pot and shake off any excess and slowly lower into your soup water
Add in dried conpoys, dried mushrooms, and all the vegetables into the pot
Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes
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.
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!
My herbalist suggested I drink a simple tea made of red dates during my period. It’s super easy to make, as the dates are already sitting in the fridge and you just add hot water. Some people will boil it with a few other ingredients, such as wolfberries and fresh ginger slices. This is also an ideal confinement drink if you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth – replace this in place of coffee or tea to avoid the caffeine, but get the benefits of the blood replenishment.
Soup Name: Chinese Yam with Apples and Corn in Chicken Broth (with Ginger)
Traditional Chinese Name: 蘋果玉米淮山雞湯 (píng guǒ yù mǐ huái shān jī tāng)
A simple, clean chicken broth with just a hint of sweetness and a tang of spice (from the ginger). Depending on who your consumer is, add less or more ginger. For confinement, don’t be scared to throw it all in! This soup is easy to make, it’s got basic neutral ingredients and is great for the whole family!
What Ingredients are required?
1 fresh whole chicken, quartered 4-5 whole apples, cored and quartered 2 fresh corn, quartered 2 fresh pieces of Chinese Yam about 1 foot in length, peeling is optional, quartered 150 g of sliced fresh ginger (for confinement purposes) 2 L of water salt to taste How do I prepare it?
Clean, prepare and blanch chicken in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes
Set aside to cool
Wash, prepare apples, corn and Chinese Yam
Slice ginger thinly
Boil your soup water, when it boils, add all the ingredients together
Boil on high for about 30 minutes and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour
Serve and enjoy!
With ginger, it’s a slightly warm soup, but without it, it’s neutral
Pregnancy, confinement and child friendly
Sweet and fresh to the taste
Excellent source of Vitamins and hearty to eat
For children, go easy on the ginger because that can really spice up the soup!
Be sure to clean, peel Chinese Yam with gloves as the outer skin of the Chinese Yam can make your fingers itchy (if you opt to peel the skin)
A popular and very common soup for confinement, but not limited to this special group of ladies. For confinement, you must use GREEN papaya (ie: raw, raw, raw – smoking green). The dried octopus helps in milk production as well as adding some flavor to the soup. Use small fish where possible (to limit the exposure to mercury) and setting the soup overnight in a thermal pot really helps bring out the flavors. You can make a big pot and drink for about 2-3 days (while reheating it). This soup generates a very rich, milky broth that is super nutritious, delicious and suitable for the whole family. Another key ingredient for confinement is the ginger – don’t discount the power of ginger!
Green papaya is an amazing antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that strengthens the spleen, counteracts dampness, and supports circulation. Green papaya is also amazing in removing toxins and kills free radical particles from the body (hence the anti-oxidant and anti-aging). While it’s amazing in soups, it’s not quite so sweet as their red family members and sometimes carries a tart and sweet taste together. You’ll find this ingredient in salads a lot as well! But I do love eating it as part of the soup and meal!
In a shallow pan on medium heat, add oil and ginger and when the oil is hot, add fish
Fry the fish with the ginger on both sides until golden brown
Remove from stove to let cool
Boil your soup water
Wash and peel papaya skin, cut into large edible portions
When the water boils, add in fish (inside a soup baggie to prevent the bones from disintegrating into the soup), fried ginger, octopus and papaya
Boil on medium heat for 1.5 hours
Put into a thermal pot to keep warm or for re-boil later
Tips for this soup:
Be sure to use smaller fish (to reduce the amount of mercury in the soup). Larger fish tend to have more mercury.
Be sure to use a soup bag if you’re using fish in your soups. I’ll usually pan-fry and then drop that into a fine mesh soup bag so that one, clean up is super easy, and two, the bones don’t disintegrate all over the soup. Some people do love eating the fish as part of the meal, so you can always extract that directly from the soup.
Optional to keep the papaya skin on as well so that the papaya itself doesn’t soften and disintegrate too much