Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Herbal Chicken Soup

I like to make Herbal Chicken Soup once in a while, as a health tonic. I drank this soup quite regularly after giving birth and always felt revitalised after it. This, as well as Chicken Wine, were my favourite confinement dishes.

I may not have followed every confinement 'rule' faithfully - some may have been relevant back in ancient China, but certainly not in modern Singapore - but I sure observed the eating part! What's not to like? Confinement food is absolutely delish! All those herbs and tonics made a world of difference to my postpartum recovery and my body thanked me for it.

Today, I added a little Dang Gui to the chicken soup. Not everyone likes it for it's got a very pungent, earthy smell. But I do. And surprisingly, my daughter doesn't seem to mind either. Great, someone to share the soup with!

Herbal Chicken 1

Now, I can't quite recall when or where I saw this, but I remember very distinctly watching a documentary where a Chinese physician cautioned against brewing herbs in metal pots. It is said that metal reduces the efficacy of herbs drastically. I can't verify this, but I would rather err on the side of caution ... so, I have always used a crockpot whenever I want to make anything with herbs.

I love soups for the nourishment and comfort they provide. They fill your tummy and warm your heart. This Herbal Chicken Soup is a delight to partake in cool weather, due to its warming properties. Just give me a bowl of rice and a saucer of light soy, and my meal is complete.

- 1 fresh chicken
- 1 large soup bowl boiling water
- 1 soup spoon cognac (optional)

Herbs (names in English / Cantonese / Chinese)
Wolfberries (aka Kei Chi / Gou Ji Zi) - 1 handful

Codonopsis Pilosula (aka Dong Sum / Dang Shen) - 2 or 3 sticks, cut in half (get the good quality ones; the cheaper type, which is shorter, tends to be bitter)

Polygonatum Officinale (aka Yoke Chok / Yu Zhu) - 4 or 5 slivers

Chinese Angelica (aka Dong Kwai / Dang Gui) - 2 to 3 small pieces

Red dates (Hong Zou / Hong Zao) - 1 small handful, pitted

1. Wash chicken and place it in a crockpot.

2. Rinse all herbs and throw them in.

3. Add 1 large soup bowl of boiling hot water.

4. Add 1 soup spoon of cognac, if desired.

5. Boil for 2 hours. Skim off as much oil as you can from the surface. Enjoy!

Herbal Chicken 2


  1. Good morning~ I love reading about your different recipes and ingredients also..and seeing your beautiful photos..
    I also enjoyed reading about confinement..did you follow this rule?
    I should tell my daughter who will be welcoming Oliver in ap 6 weeks:)
    I bet the cognac in your soups adds great flavors.I like to add sherry etc.. to some stir fried dishes and onion soups..the cognac must have the same power:)

  2. oh, fat men including me cannot drink this soup, haha

  3. I love herbal soup esp dang gui, simply can't get enough. Yours look so delish!

  4. Nana: Thank you! Likewise, I love learning more about your lifestyle through your recipes and photos :) And no, I didn't follow every single confinement rule ;) Wow, you must be so excited waiting for the arrival of Oliver!!! That's wonderful! Babies always bring so much joy.

    Kenny: Oh, dear! LOL!

    noobcook: Thanks, good to know another person likes dang gui like me :)

  5. To be honest, it has been too long that I havent had this kind of soup!! My mom made it a lot when I was young.

  6. mycookinghut: I know what you mean. My dad used to be the one who insisted we drank herbal soups when we were young :)

  7. Hi,
    Can man drink tis soup oso? since is for confinement.love your blog. Thanks in advance.


  8. Heok: Yes, you don't have to be a new mother to drink this soup :) One thing - dang gui is also known as "female ginseng", so it's a popular herb for ladies. You can substitute the dang gui with regular ginseng. Or just leave it out completely. HTH!

  9. What is a crockpot, is it a slow cooker? What is it made of? Just stumbled on your blog and I love reading your recipes, probably bec I'm Teochew too.

  10. Hi Anon, thank you. You are absolutely right - crockpot = slow cooker.

  11. I always adore Chinese tonic soup, maybe too heavily influenced by my mom. To me, it's homey, nostalgic and nourishing. I brothed herbal black chicken soup today and my overall physical well-being seems to be boosted up hours after consuming it. :) Your photos look captivating, they make the dish really appetizing!