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Chinese Herbs and Chicken Soup

Originally published December 12, 2020

"Give 'em some Chicken Soup!" (with Chinese Herbs)

The days are getting shorter, colder and wet. Today is a perfect day for having a warm bowl of chicken soup. Mothers and grandmothers all over the world recommend, “Give ‘em some chicken soup!” Chicken soup with Chinese herbs is particularly warming and nourishing. Here’s a traditional recipe and demo of how to create this wonderful dish for your entire family.

This recipe makes enough soup for four servings; each serving provides 36 grams of herbs.

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cooking time: 1 hour


  • Huang Qi / Astragalus membranaceus root 20 grams
  • Hei mu er / Auricularia auricula fungus: 10 grams
  • Dang Shen / Codonopsis pilosula root: 20 grams
  • Shan Yao / Dioscorea opposita rhizome: 20 grams
  • Da Zao (Hong) / Ziziphus jujuba fruit (red): 24 grams
  • Long Yan Rou / Dimocarpus longan fruit: 15 grams
  • Lian Zi / Nelumbo nucifera (lotus) seed: 15 grams
  • Gou Qi Zi / Lycium barbarum fruit: 15 grams
  • Huang Jing / Polygonatum sibiricum rhizome: 20 grams
  • Kun Bu / Laminaria japonica herb: 10 grams

Soup Ingredients

  • whole chicken ~3.5 to 4 pounds- skinned
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 carrots - sliced
  • 2 celery stalks - sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 ginger slices
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (optional)
  • 145 grams Chinese herbs (see list above)
  • 8-10 cups water


  1. Cut the chicken apart and reserve the breast meat. Remove the skin and discard.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Add enough water to cover.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil. (Any residue that floats to the surface may be skimmed.)
  4. Add in the whole herbs (place the astragalus and codonopsis in a sachet or cheesecloth), four cloves of crushed or grated garlic, three thin slices of fresh ginger, and a teaspoon of salt.
  5. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
  7. Add sliced fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery) at this time and simmer for 15 minutes to soften them.
  8. Add the soy sauce, the sesame oil, and the optional red wine. Cover and remove from heat.
  9. Remove the astragalus and codonopsis sachet. All the remaining herbs are quite edible.
  10. Clean the chicken meat from the bones. Add the meat back to the soup and discard the bones.

Bio: Skye Sturgeon, DAOM, L.Ac.

Skye is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.
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