Wednesday 22 August 2007


If you're Chinese, most likely you grew up with soup on the dinner table. The brothy concoction had little twigs and indistinguishable ingredients floating about and though you questioned what they were, you never got a straight answer.

Well, I have figured out what some of those herbs are and have some of the recipes right here if you feel like making them. Most of these herbs have mild medicinal value and need to be ingested everyday on a longterm basis in order for you to receive any benefit. However, older Chinese people swear by them and for some reason these soups make you feel good. This is most likely due to the chicken soup effect. You know someone took the time to wash the ingredients, prep them, slowly simmer them an (hopefully) skim the fat off the top! This process can take a couple of hours up to 4 hours depending on the type of soup. All this work for broth! Most people do not eat the the herbs and other ingredients because all the flavour has been sapped out of them and has instead been infused into the broth.

This is a decadent form of hydration. I asked my doctor about the medicinal benefits of drinking Chinese soup and he replied that if it made you feel better, that's great. He says that all soup does is hydrate you. Look at it as part of the 8 glasses of water you're supposed to be drinking in a day.

All of these dried herbal ingredients can be found readily in the multitudinous Chinese Herbal shops that you see in Chinatown and Asian malls and markets.

1/4 cup nut of lily , slivered (lily bulb/ bai he)
1/4 cup lotus seeds
1/4 cup seed of sui sut (fox nuts/qian shi)
1/4 cup dried sliced chinese yam
1-2 lb pork soup bones

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and dump in the pork soup bones. Bring the water to a boil again. You do not have to cook the bones well. You are simply cleaning the pork bones of the blood and gunk that initially comes out. Bring the pot of water and bones to the sink and dump the contents into a colander in the sink. Wash the bones well in cold water (picking away any gristly,fatty yucky stuff that comes out) and wash the pot out very well with soap and hot water. This process is always the first step in creating a clean broth.

  • Fill the clean pot with enough fresh water to cover the soup bones and other ingredients. I usually eyeball it and ensure I have a few inches of water above the ingredients.

  • Bring water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
1/4 cup American Wild Ginseng (Xi Yang Shen)
1/4 cup small dried red dates, Chinese Wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi)
2 lbs pork soup bones
Clean and prepare soup bones and stock as above

  • Bring all ingredients in the water to a boil again; reduce to a simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours


2 fresh lotus root
1 cup raw, shelled peanuts
2 lbs pork bones
optional: 1/4 cup Chinese Wolfberries

  • Clean and prepare soup bones and broth as usual, skimming and removing any scum

  • Peel and clean lotus, chop diagonally in 1 cm thick slices

  • add washed peanuts to soup

  • Add lotus to the soup

  • Stir in wolfberries; bring to a boil; reduce to simmer, covered for 2 to 3 hours

one large bunch of watercress
1 piece dried orange peel, (tangerine peel/chen pi)
3 sweet dates, (chinese jujube/hong zao/da zao)
1/4 cup dried bitter apricot, (chinese almond/xing ren)
2 lbs pork soup bones

  • Clean and prepare soup bones and broth as described above

  • Add washed, peel, dates and chinese almonds

  • Bring to boil; reduce to simmer, covered for 1 hour

  • Add washed chopped watercress and simmer for 1/2 hour to 1 hour

1 large carrot
1 daikon radish (lo bak)
1 green daikon radish
1 T chinese almonds
3-4 dried dates or chinese jujubes
2 lb pork bones

  • Clean and prepare pork bones for the broth.

  • Clean and peel all the radishes and carrot; cut into large 1 1/2 inch chunks.

  • Wash almonds and dates and place all the ingredients into the pot.

  • Bring to boil; reduce to simmer, covered for 3-4 hours


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recipe for 3 carrots soup--I've been looking for one (not to mention looking for the mysterious "green carrots"--finally found 'em) for a while now! My partner is Chinese and I want to make it for him. I'm planning on trying it this weekend.

Cakebrain said...

Good luck with the soup! Just remember to skim the surface of impurities. Sometimes you can substitute fresh corn (on the cob) broken into large 2 inch chunks and add that to a few large carrots cut up. That's really good if you can't find the lo bak or green daikon. It's a favourite around our house.

Anonymous said...

Wah!! Thank you!!! Your intro is exactly my experience. My grandma always made it for me, and now I want to make it for her. Thank you!!!

bokchoy said...

I enjoy the Chinese soups my mother makes but have never really known what goes in them. I would love to continue this tradition so thank you for sharing these recipes.

Cakebrain said...

Hey BokChoy,
I just posted a new recipe for Green Daikon and Jumbo Carrot soup. Check it out! Don't need salt if you've got enough good stuff in it!


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