Calm Spirit Soup Recipe

Originally published January 14, 2021

The TCM concept of “form complementing form, organ complementing organ” (yi xing bu xing, yi zang bu zang 以形補形、以臟補臟 ) is well known throughout Asian culture and cooking. For example, eating walnuts for brain tonification and cashews for the health of the kidneys, or drinking red wine to tonify the blood is common folk wisdom. In this recipe, we are honoring this concept by using pig's heart (Zhu xin 豬心) to nourish the heart.

Calm Spirit Soup

Cooking any organ meat, particularly the heart, is a delicate operation that requires care. In this recipe, pig’s heart is first cooked in ginger slices and cooking wine to remove impurities and to add a gentle sweetness that is complementary to the herbs in this delicious, calming soup. Indications for Zhu xin are restlessness, ruminative thoughts and agitation associated with Heart Blood deficiency. It is sweet, salty and neutral in temperature, and complements all of the wonderful herbs to calm the Spirit.

Three herbs from the Calm Spirit category; Bai zi ren, Yuan zhi, and Suan zao ren, are often used together to strongly quiet the Spirit and treat Heart Blood deficiency that may be causing sleep disturbances or a sensation of the heart beating too quickly. Yuan zhi is bitter and slightly warm, and is extremely helpful for excessive brooding and a lack of communication between the Heart and Kidneys.

Dang shen and Huang qi nourish the middle Jiao and strengthen the Yang Qi of the Spleen and Stomach, while Long yan rou and Gou qi zi support the Blood and Yin aspect. Sheng di huang is added to cool the Heart Fire and Wu wei zi calms the Heart Qi and quiets the Spirit.

Finally, Fu shen, a fungus growing around the roots of Pine trees and includes embedded pieces of the roots when used, strengthens the Spleen, quiets the Heart and calms the Shen. It is often referred to as “Poria Spirit” to differentiate it from Fu ling, or Poria cocos, which is the same fungus growing away from the Pine roots and used differently.

For those curious about the flavor of pig’s heart, it tastes very much like beef tongue and beef shank (texturally similar as well) with just a hint of liver. Its health benefits and taste make it a favorite ingredient in Chinese home cooking. Join the “nose to tail” eating movement and take care of yourself with our wonderfully calming and nutritive soup!


  • 23 g Bai zi ren / Platycladus orientalis seed
  • 19 g Dang shen / Codonopsis pilosula root
  • 12 g Suan zao ren / Ziziphus jujuba seed
  • 12 g Huang qi / Astragalus membranaceus root
  • 12 g Yuan zhi / Polygala tenuifolia root
  • 12 g Fu shen / Poria cocos pararadicis sclerotium
  • 12 g Sheng di huang / Rehmannia glutinosa root
  • 8 g Long yan rou / Arillus longana fruit
  • 6 g Wu wei zi / Schisandra chinensis fruit
  • 6 g Gou qi zi / Lycium barbarum fruit
  • ½ Zhu Xin / Pig’s heart
  • 4 pc Sheng Jiang / Fresh ginger slices
  • 2 Tbs. Chinese cooking wine
  • Salt

Cooking Instructions

  1. Rinse all herbal ingredients. Set aside.
  2. *Clean and cut pig’s heart into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add ginger slices, cooking wine, and 1 Tbs salt. Boil heart pieces for about 5 minutes, drain and rinse.
  4. Place all ingredients except Gou qi zi into pot, cover with water.
  5. Bring to boil, then simmer for 2 hours.
  6. 10 minutes before soup is finished, add Gou qi zi.
  7. Salt to taste and serve.
*There are a few youtube videos in English about cleaning/cooking hearts, but this one seems the most straightforward:
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