Ginseng Chicken Soup

Chinese love soup. Soup enriches by dried herbs, slowly steamed or simmered with low heat for hours, is one of the staple in home meals. Our soup is usually cooked with ginseng and chicken, steamed till all the goodness of all ingredients can be sipped in a bowl.

A good bowl of soup needs to have four types of ingredients, and each one balances the others out, which is one of the most important traditional Chinese cooking principles. Animal protein, that can be simmered for a long period of time slowly to get the juices out, is usually a choice of whole chicken or pork ribs. Sweet dried herbs that gives the soup that sweetness, these are dried fruit, such as longan or lychee. Bitter herbs are normally variety of roots. Choices of bitter roots are ginseng, angelica roots, or other type of roots. The last type of ingredients is the neutral ones, these could be wolfberries (or gojiberries), dried mushrooms or lotus seeds.

This recipe is what we love to cook at home. The ingredients are very easy to find in any Chinese herbal shops.

Herbs we used are dried longan, dried lychee and dried wolfberries. The roots are American ginseng, angelica root and red sage roots. Crack dried fruits with back of knife. Use the soft fruit part only. Run all ingredients under cold water to wash dust away.

Mother has this double bottom pot, with a small hole on the side for filling water. Something like a very practical bain-au-marie. If you don’t have this, use a double steamer pot or just a normal stock pot would do.

There’s a screw that close up the opening for water. That way the cooking dish is not directly heated. Soup is heated by boiling water underneath it instead. Fill pot with water. Let boil.

Wash chicken thoroughly. Cut into smaller pieces. Get rid of the visible chicken fat, if you wish. We never do it, we just cook everything.

When the water boils, add roots into the pot.

Dried fruits.

Wolfberries. Let cook over low heat for 2,5 hours. If using normal stock pot, halve the cooking time.

Add chicken pieces into the soup. Cook over medium heat for 1.5 hours. When using normal stockpot, let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

The soup is ready to be served. Season with salt, if desired. Serve warm with steamed rice, or just by itself.

The roots can’t be eaten. The dried fruits are edible. Beautiful bowl of soup, with a lot of goodness in it.


Chinese Chicken Ginseng Soup

Makes 4-6 servings


2 liters water
15 g Korean / American ginseng
2 (15 g) Chinese red sage root, dan shen
1 (10 g) Chinese angelica root, dong quai/danggui
6 dried lychees, fruit part only
2 dried longan, fruit part only
25 g dried wolfberries
1 whole chicken, about 500 g, cut into 6 pieces
Salt, for seasoning


Boil water with a double steamer pot.
Combine ginseng, red sage root, angelica root, fruit of dried lychees and fruit of dried longan, as well as dried wolfberries into boiling water.
Simmer for 2.5 hours over low heat.
Add chicken into the pot. Increase heat and simmer for 1,5 hour.
Season with salt, if desired.
Serve warm with rice.

If using normal cooking stockpot, halve the cooking time.

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5 Responses to “Ginseng Chicken Soup”

  1. 1

    maureen — July 24, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    very delicious looking bowl of soup! we always had this in singapore, except that we replaced the white chicken with black chicken!

    love ur photos! :)

  2. 2

    bblossom — July 24, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    I like the double bottom pot that you used to make this soup. Would a double boiler be a good substitute for this pot? Would a clay pot be a good substitute as well? This soup looks really nutritious.

    • Jun replied: — July 24th, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

      Any pot that would cook soup indirectly over heat is a great substitute. Clay pot is a great vessel too. When we use clay pot, we put it in a big stock pot and let the clay pot simmered in there.

  3. 3

    Pierre — July 25, 2011 @ 12:10 am

    Hi Jun,
    Great recipe. I always wanted to know the Chinese version of Ginseng Chicken. You keep posting out awesome awesome classics! You must be a walking culinary dictionary.

  4. 4

    Chinese Corn and Cabbage Soup — August 24, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    [...] Ginseng Chicken Soup from Indochine Kitchen [...]

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