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For the non-asian: Have you ever tried/heard of Chinese Herbal Soup?

This topic is for the non-asian out there.

I am looking for some basic research on the popularity level of Chinese herbal soup among North Americans.

Have you ever tried or heard of chinese herbal soup and their benefits? These soups have been in the chinese cuisine and culture for thousands of years and have proven (scientifically as well) that it is part of a healthy diet.

Soups such as chicken with red dates, Ginseng and other herbal ingredients.

Have you ever heard of or tried it? If yes, would you want to try making it at your own home?

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  1. Grace Young, in her first cookbook, has recipes for healing soups. http://www.graceyoung.com/cookbooks/c...

    1. Yes, I've tried it, and I regularly make 四物湯 at home. I don't particularly believe the health claims associated with them, but I like the tastes. I am North American, but I live in Taiwan, so I may not be a good sample.

      I will say that these are generally an acquired taste if you haven't grown up with it - the flavours of many of them are *very* foreign to western taste, and I think would be a hard sell generally, sort of like trying to push stinky cheese in Taiwan.

      1. Have I heard of it? yes. Have I had it? also yes. Would I like to try making it at home? I probably will eventually.

        I'm a Canadian who's lived in Sri Lanka 10 years and Singapore 1 year, so I'm not exactly typical North American.

        1. I watched a show where the new mom was given a special soup by her Chinese mom to help shrink her uterus and help with milk flow. The new mom did not enjoy it but ate it.

          1. I've never heard of these referred to as herbal soups. If you said "medicinal soups" or something that referred to their associations with traditional Chinese medicine I'd know exactly what you're talking about.

            FWIW I'm Asian.

            1. well you're going to get a very biased sample on this site compared to the "general public".

              Heard of - yes

              Tried - no

              1. I'm wondering why this healthy traditional soup (which is part of chinese's diet for thousands of years), is not known in north america?

                Is it because we lack the knowledge of it, or because the taste bud is totally different that it couldn't sustain any interest in it?


                4 Replies
                1. re: nissin67

                  I think it's a "sourcing" issue.
                  When I think of any "New Mother's Soup"-- Chinese or Korean-- I think of ingredients that haven't been common in the US/NA, such as:
                  Black chicken
                  ginseng [yes, I know there's US 'sang]
                  Chinese Angelica, (当归)
                  dried P. odoratum (玉竹)
                  red dates (红枣)
                  wolfberries (枸杞)
                  dried longan (桂圆/龙眼干)
                  Chinese garlic

                  Certainly ALLLL of those aren't necessarily in the same soup.

                  Caucasian, Southern-US raised. 10 years in Asia.
                  Loved the soups at first slurp.

                  Also, read through the comments section here:

                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    Well you've heard about it because you lived in Asia for ten years.

                    I am assuming a lot north americans haven't even heard about it or its benefits. It is such a healthy diet I'm surprised not too many people heard about it.

                    So if you can buy it at grocery stores you would probably want to try making it your own too? I want to cook this myself and sourcing is the problem as well.

                    1. re: nissin67

                      I am Asian by ethnicity, so I should be answering this, but I think the reason is that most North Americans do not believe in herbal teas whatever their origin may be -- Asian or Middle Eastern or African.

                      <I want to cook this myself and sourcing is the problem as well.>

                      You can may some Chinese herbal teas in Asian supermarkets, and you can buy them in different stages. Some are already made, and all you need to do is to pour hot water. Some are in their raw states, and you need a lot of works. Many are in between.


                  2. re: nissin67

                    I'm not Asian, nor have I lived in Asia, and I've tried several versions, all here in North America. Presumably the availability is dependent on whether there's a local population that will support traditional dishes and whether the restaurant makes it available to non-Chinese patrons. As we've discussed ad nauseum, many Chinese restaurants do not put dishes they think Americans won't like on the English-language menu -- they'll either be in a Chinese-only menu or entirely off menu and available on request.

                    As for whether I like them, it depends. I had one that was too bitter for me to eat; I've had others where the flavors didn't appeal to me (again, to bitter/medicinal) and some that were quite enjoyable.

                  3. I have not heard of "Chinese Herbal Soup," but I would certainly try it. I'm non-Asian but absolutely love Korean and Vietnamese food. If I knew where to get the ingredients I would be open to try making it at home. I doubt my husband would be interested, so small-batch recipes would be ideal for me.

                    1. Never heard of them, but would be interested in learning more.

                      1. I've heard of it, never had it, but would try it. I'm American (Irish/German descent) and have never lived in an Asian country.

                        1. If there's more education on it, would you think the taste would be bearable? I assume the herbs would be too strong for most North Americans.

                          Soups like ginseng chicken is very tasty to many Chinese (the more bitter the better!). But I can see how it might be too much for a majority of North Americans.

                          Probably the younger generation would be more acceptable to try.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: nissin67

                            Are all of these soups extremely bitter?

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              No not really... But North Americans might find it a little bitter than the usual diets.

                              The soups are more watery than the thick creamy soups accustomed to North Americans.

                              The purpose is to simmer and boil all the goodness out of the ingredients (including chicken and pork within the soup), and drink the healthy liquid soup.

                              It actually taste very good in my opinion, especially ones with chicken and carrot with a bunch of flavourful herbs such as longhan and red dates ... Yum!

                          2. Hmm- never heard them called "herbal soups" but have had many a "healing soup". My Aunt dabbled in chinese medicine back in the '70's and often made soups with ginseng, ginger and various herbs. I still make her chicken based ginger soup when I am not feeling well.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Interesting! As far as I know, chinese people have it almost everyday as their daily diet. Although it will be used for healing sometimes (some soups are particularly for healing because of particular herbs), but most of them are for boosting immune system and just for overall daily nuitrition and sickness prevention.

                              I love to make chicken mushroom soup with white fungus! So delicious!

                              1. re: nissin67

                                Hey it was my crazy Aunt in the '70's. I wouldn't call her an expert, for all I know she made up the term "healing soup", LOL. She was a big believer in ginseng and ginger as well as acupuncture, chiropractic care and weekly colonics.

                                But the soup sure soothes a cold, flu or sore belly.

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  Haha... I know Chinese people use ginger and cook and boil it for sore throat...

                                  Don't know how effective is the sugar in coke for sore throat, probably it boils down the sugar level?

                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    The less said about colonics and soup in the same post, the better!