Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

Growing up in a Chinese household, food was central to our lives. Food was not just to fill our tummies but to heal, lift our spirits and give reason to bring friends and family together.

Traditional Chinese families put their soup in the center of their table. It is given this prominent position because it is the most nourishing course or dish of every meal. There is a soup for every ailment of the body. Many Chinese soups are very difficult to recreate due to availability of quality ingredients and lack of patience.

Every culture has its take on Chicken soup. As a Chinese person married to a Jewish man, our family gets two takes on the healing properties of a chicken soup. I am certain mine is better than his! If you felt under the weather, this soup would be like a bowl of golden sunshine.

Within our busy lifestyles, letting something simmer on the stove for at least half a day is a difficult feat. All my soups are cooked in clay or ceramic pots. Yes, this conjures up images of large belly cauldrons. Yet, magic happens in the brew.


  • Large Chicken with skin on
  • Handful of Goji berries
  • 4 slices of dry abalone
  • Quarter pound of ham hock
  • Two slices of ginger
  • Salt to taste


  • Large soup pot
  • Soup spoon


  1. Bring half a pot of water to boil
  2. Put the chicken in to boil and bring to boil for 10 minutes
  3. Discard water and wash chicken thoroughly (again)
  4. Put all the ingredients in the pot and cover with fresh water
  5. Bring the entire pot to boil and simmer for alteast 4 hours. DO NOT let soup boil or it will become cloudy
  6. Use soup spoon to skim off fat and discard
  7. Add salt to taste

What you should know

Pre-boiling the chicken improves the clarity of the broth and a must with Chinese soups. You should look for gentle soft bubbles during the simmering process. In my family, every cook worth her broth is judged by whether she can produce a soup with complimenting layers of flavor. One’s lips should ever so slightly sticky at the end of the meal. Then you know the ingredients have rendered all of its goodness.

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

This soup looks delicious. I would like to try and make it next Sunday which is when we prepare meals for the week. Can you tell me what Goji berries are? Will they have this in most supermarkets?

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

Goji berries are available at Asian markets and, in the US, from Whole Foods (and you can read lots about them at Wikipedia). Known sometimes as Wolfberrys, they are considered to have wonderful healing properties in Chinese culture.

By the way, you can also add a small handful of dried shitake mushrooms for another layer of flavor.

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

Golden sunshine indeed! Who knew that soup could be so good — and delicious. This is a perfect Sunday afternoon kind of recipe as it is the essence of simplicity requiring little more than patience and time. I have tried this soup and it is wonderful.

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

Great soup recipe. Thanks. So simple yet so good. I have never made a soup this tasty and I have made many soups in my day.

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

As the aforementioned husband, while I can give her soup a run for its money with my own, I confess to preferring hers. Sure, sometimes a little shmaltz can be a wondrous thing, but the juxtaposition of the clarity against the layer-upon-layer of subtle flavor in this Chinese Chicken Soup is a thing to behold.

I also think it is worth pointing out that she has left out one key ingredient: love. I know it sounds weird, but I would consider this a critical element. The Chinese speak of wok chi as a crucial component of their frying… a version of it is required here. The love you put in to this soup is returned in spades.

It may seem scandalous, but occasionally I use the broth to boil vegetables for our 4 year-old daughter (making sure she drinks the soup of course). She always tells me “the broccoli tastes especially good today, daddy”.

I wonder why? ;-)

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

Thanks for sharing the healing Chinese chicken soup, we may need to try to alter some of the ingredients as they’re not readily available in our place.

Re: Healing Chinese Chicken Soup