Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chinese Herbal Soups: Chicken soup with Red Dates

I mentioned I'd been getting over a cold lately right? Consequently, I'd been making a lot of soup. I'd been curious about Chinese herbal soups ever since I bought a soup pack for an herbal pork soup. I never actually made it, but it at least planted the idea. 

Another thing that came to my mind was a very simple pork soup that my grandma made when I was young. The broth was clear and slightly sweet. She said it was because she added dates. I always thought she meant those middle eastern dates, but I'm beginning to think she meant jujubes (red dates). When I learned that they were used to make herbal soups, I was on a mission. 

Here is the base recipe I used: Chicken Soup with Red Dates

There were some things that confused me, like what does "prepare the chicken" mean? Here's what I do.


2 chicken leg quarters cut into legs and thighs (4 pieces total)
5-8 red dates cut in half
1/3 - 1/2 a cup of wolfberries (goji berries) - washed, but not soaked. 
2-3 medium to large carrots (chopped into 2" x 0.5" chunks) 
chopped daikon (optional - I had some I needed to use)
2.5 qts water
salt - to taste at the end, in your own bowl

1. Cut the chicken leg quarters at the joints to separate the legs from the thighs. Trim excess skin and fat off the thighs. 

2. Wash the chicken pieces and place into a pot with 2.5 qts of water. Bring to a simmer (light boil, not roaring) and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. After that time has elapsed, clean the scum that floats to the top. Allow the pot to keep simmering and add the dates.  

3. After about 15 - 20 minutes has elapsed, add the rest of the ingredients and allow the pot to simmer/boil on a medium-low heat for 1 hour. Remove scum as needed.

Let people adjust their own salt preferences on their own servings. The dates make the soup sweet but it's subtle. Since saltiness counteracts sweetness, I'd rather not make that decision for a full pot of soup. I usually don't add any salt. 

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