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Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

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As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.

Chinese Herbs are healing.

Chinese Herbs are healing.

After writing the hub “Use of Herbal Therapy in Chinese Medicine,” I think it would be befitting to write a recipe hub on how to make a simple herbal chicken soup. The Chinese believes that prevention is better than cure, and what better way to fortify your body against free radicals (well-known for germinating diseases and cancer) and environmental pollutants than to incorporate herbs in cooking. Herbs on their own are not very tasty, unless they’re dried fruits—and Chinese medicine includes a rich variety of fruits to create a balance of taste and ultimately the balance of yin and yang. Very clever, if I may say so myself.

Growing up in Singapore, my mother has a rich arsenal of herbs stashed in cabinets in the kitchen. She believes strongly in Chinese herbs but I was too young and “uninformed” to realize how powerful these herbs lurking in the cabinet can be. Nor was I very appreciative, sad to say, whenever she brewed certain herbs that resulted in a bitter taste that I had to consume it to get rid of certain health conditions. Often times, she would have to bribe, coerce, threaten, intimate (short of beating the c. out of me) to drink that healing potion.

But Chinese herbal chicken soup is easy on the palette, unlike the ones mentioned above. The combination of herbs serves to bring out the flavor of chicken and if you eat with rice, it’s a complete meal in itself. And, now that I’m all grown up and wiser—sooo…good for you.

Delicious Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup.

Delicious Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup.

There are different ways to make herbal chicken soup and different combinations of herbs are used to target different medical needs. However, there are some basic herbs that are generally used to make chicken soup and this is what I have here:


You can buy these ingredients individually or look for them in a ready-mix pack. I suggest the latter as it is much easier.

  • Lotus seed
  • Lycium
  • Dioscorea
  • Polygonatum
  • Black Fungus
  • Codonopsis
  • Astragalus
  • Longan
  • 1 whole chicken, or cut into big hunks—leave bones in (soup tastes better that way)
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 3 to 5 slices of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of soya sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Carrots and celery (optional), cut into chunks.


  • Bring 4 to 5 cups of water to a  boil
  • Put chicken in, together with herbs
  • Add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and once it boils, lower heat and allow to simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Add vegetables 10 minutes before cooking time and season with soya sauce.
  • More salt and pepper can be added if desired.

Dish it up in a bowl, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

Treats nervousness and irritabilty--knows someone who needs it?

Treats nervousness and irritabilty--knows someone who needs it?

While you are enjoying your delicious soup, you may want to know the health benefits of the herbs involved in this soup. Here’s the breakdown.

Root herbs—astragalus, codonopsis and dioscorea

  • promote qi (an important concept in Chinese medicine—meaning energy).
  • aid digestion, increases absorption of nutrients, and promote cardiovascular health
  • enhance energy

Dried fruits—longan and lyceum are classified as blood tonics

  • Treat anemia
  • Reduce fidgeting or nervous tension
  • Aid sleep

Black Fungus

  • Alleviate dryness and promote blood circulation


  • A yin tonic
  • Restore moisture to dried membranes (good for the skin)

Lotus Seed

  • Mild tonic
  • Alleviates nervousness and irritability

There you have it. Every herb pulls its own weight and when you combine them together, you get one giant health boost. Kinda of neat!

Fresh Dioscorea

Fresh Dioscorea

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Dried longans on the right and goji berries on the left--a sweet combo for any soup.

Dried longans on the right and goji berries on the left--a sweet combo for any soup.

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jojokaya from USA on March 25, 2012:

This is the best chicken soup ever... One of our favorite. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

anglnwu (author) on November 08, 2011:

Storytellers, thank you for checking back. Hope you find what you're looking for at the Asian market. If not, you may be able to find it online. Take care and enjoy your hunt.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on November 07, 2011:

anginwu, I will have to find an Asian market nearby. Perhaps I will head downtown, if there is nothing out here in the "boonies!" Thanks for the suggestion. I am excited to read your Chinese herb hub!

anglnwu (author) on November 07, 2011:

storytellersrus, so glad you drop by to comment. Thanks for your encouraging feedback. You can find these herbs in an Asian market and sometimes, you can find them all ready packed into one convenient packet for you--all you have to do is boil the chicken with all the herbs and add seasoning. Again, I apprecaite your visit and I'm looking forward to reading your hubs.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on November 07, 2011:

anglnwu, I bookmarked this hub. I have got to print out the ingredients so I can begin to find them. I know there is a shop about half hour up the road that (I hope) has the ingredients you mentioned. The health food stores in this area do not go that far into Chinese Herbs! This is the first of your hubs I have read, and I find the recipe intriguing and your introduction above pretty darn funny. Your subtle humor makes it a pleasure to read. Thank you for commenting on my laughter hub. It invited me into your kitchen!

anglnwu (author) on October 23, 2011:

Thanks, Carolinemoon, I believe that too. Glad you find it helpful.

carolinemoon on October 23, 2011:

Great hub! I believe that Chinese herbal recipes in dealing with one's health. There are lots of benefits you can get from those dishes. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

anglnwu (author) on October 09, 2011:

KoffeeKltach Gals, thanks for dropping by. If you go to the Chinese medicinal shop or even a well-stocked Chinese grocery you may be able to find package with most of the ingredients already picked for you--just follow instructions at the back of package and enjoy:)

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on October 09, 2011:

Your herbal chicken soup is so interesting. I am going to try to find all of the ingredients. Wonderful write-up about the benefits.

anglnwu (author) on August 26, 2011:

Thanks, Vonnavie Sanchez.

Vonnavie Sanchez on August 24, 2011:

Great hub!

anglnwu (author) on August 13, 2011:

Thanks, christincordle!

ChristinCordle12 on August 08, 2011:

Excellent recipe! It's perfect for health.

anglnwu (author) on May 06, 2011:

Thanks, Becky Puetz. Usually, herbal stuff is not very pleasant to the taste but this soup begs to differ.

Becky from Oklahoma on May 05, 2011:

This chicken soup sounds soooo delicious and just to think it's filled with healing herbs, you can't beat that. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and awesome.

anglnwu (author) on September 30, 2010:

I love it too. It's so good and I can see why you're making it every so often. Thanks, Milu Matthew!

Milu Mathew on September 29, 2010:

This soup is really good. I think this is one my favorite soup i ever had.I make this once in two weeks for my family.

anglnwu (author) on July 03, 2010:

habee, anytime, for you and Tony. It will be my great honor to have the queen of food hubs come. Only you may find my food below standard--lol--but you'll like the company at least, i hope. Always good to see u.

Holle Abee from Georgia on July 02, 2010:

Do you have enough for me and Tony?? Sounds great!

anglnwu (author) on March 05, 2010:

You're very familiar with Chinese medicine, I can tell. Yes, this soup does all that you say and more. Thanks for your support.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 05, 2010:

I know that this recipes is good for our health. And it proof for a thousand year ago. It benefit for flue and cold, it use to warm the body. I found many useful spices here. Good work my friend. I'll bookmark this one. Thanks

anglnwu (author) on March 05, 2010:

Com'on over, I'll make you some--good for menstrual cramps (hehe..) and so delicious. Just bring some calamancis and I'll make a calamanci-chili-soya sauce condiment to go with it. We'll hang out and forget about slaving away writing hubs. Who needs that, when good food awaits? Nice to see you again, as always.

prettydarkhorse from US on March 05, 2010:

the chicken soup is good, so good, it makes me want to have that one now, chicken herbal soup, love it and I like the way you discuss the benefits of each one, Maita

anglnwu (author) on March 04, 2010:

tony dear, thanks--you're so sweet, definitely not a mooch. Always nice to hear from you. Later, gator!

tony0724 from san diego calif on March 04, 2010:

anglnwu I hate to sound like a mooch , but can I come over for some grub ? I promise I will help with the dishes ! :)

anglnwu (author) on March 04, 2010:

Dohn, thanks for being the first to visit. Let me know how your soup turns out. As usual, a pleasure to see you.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on March 04, 2010:

Wow. I'm certainly going to give this a try. I know exactly the place where I can find most if not all of these ingredients. I'm bookmarking this one for later use! Thanks for sharing this great recipe, anglwu!

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