Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

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
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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Comments 27 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

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!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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

tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

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 profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

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 profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

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 profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

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

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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.

Milu Mathew 6 years ago

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 profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

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

Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 5 years ago from Oklahoma

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 profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

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

ChristinCordle12 profile image

ChristinCordle12 5 years ago

Excellent recipe! It's perfect for health.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, christincordle!

Vonnavie Sanchez profile image

Vonnavie Sanchez 5 years ago

Great hub!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Vonnavie Sanchez.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

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 profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

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:)

carolinemoon profile image

carolinemoon 5 years ago

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 profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

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

Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

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 profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

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.

Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

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 profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

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.

jojokaya profile image

jojokaya 4 years ago from USA

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

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