As spring approaches, the temperatures outside are always fluctuating. Today it’s in the 60s and I’m sweating out a hot flash (I know it’s not just me!), and tomorrow, the 40 degree-weather will have me reaching for puffy vests and scarves. I personally feel that my body is being put to the test with all these weather-induced aches and pains. Am I the only one feeling under the weather?
Well, regardless of whether or not anyone’s with me, I’ll risk sounding like a crazy hippie lady and say that it’s a good time to nourish the body with some healthy foods! This Chinese Chicken Mushroom Soup is definitely up to the task—and it’s a quick remedy to boot!
Unlike my chicken stock recipe, the goal of which is to extract all the chicken essence from the bird (rendering the actual meat dry, tasteless and generally discarded—something that I realize was controversial, but is, nonetheless, very traditional), the goal of this chicken mushroom soup recipe is to ensure the best of both worlds: delicious soup and juicy chicken that you can definitely serve up as a complete meal.
Health Benefits According to TCM!
In order to appreciate the health benefits of this Chicken Mushroom soup, I listed out the health benefits of each ingredient according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM” for those in the know). I hope this soup will help chase away the last of your winter blues, too!
- Goji berries promote a healthy flow of Qi through the body
- Chinese dates contribute to the health of the blood
- Ginger helps to expel “dampness” in the body
- Shiitake mushrooms help the immune system
A few tips to share as you’re making the soup:
- It’s best to buy a whole, young chicken from an Asian supermarket. If not, a small organic chicken works well.
- With this soup–really any soup–the chicken breast can quickly turn very dry. Even though I did not do it for this recipe, I do suggest that you trim them off and keep them for another dish like Kung Pao Chicken, Spicy Chicken Stir Fry, or Moo Goo Gai Pan for optimal enjoyment.
- It’s best to use dried Shiitake mushrooms, as they are more flavorful than fresh–similar to how it’s sometimes better to use dried over fresh herbs.
- Add salt right before serving so as not to dry out the chicken meat.
- Try not to deviate from the recipe by adding more goji berries and dates. While they are very healthy, too many will make the soup sweet.
Chinese Chicken Mushroom Soup: Recipe Instructions
First, wash the dried shiitake mushrooms a couple of times and rinse thoroughly. Then soak them in 8 cups of water in the soup pot for 6 hours or overnight. Trim away the stems (after soaking) before cooking and add the mushrooms back to the pot of water.
Prepare the chicken while that’s simmering. Wash the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Trim and set aside the chicken breasts for another dish. Cut the rest of the chicken into large pieces. Set aside.
Once the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, heat a wok over medium high heat until it starts to smoke slightly. Turn the heat down to medium, and add the oil and the ginger slices. Cook for a minute or two.
Spread the oil around the wok to coat. Then spread the chicken out in a single layer, and lightly brown the chicken before stirring. Once the majority of each piece has been cooked through, turn off the heat.
Add the chicken to the soup pot. Deglaze the wok with ½ cup water, and add it to the soup pot as well.
Finally, add the Shaoxing wine and cover.
Simmer for another 30 minutes over medium heat. Add salt to taste and sprinkle with chopped scallions right before serving.
This Chinese chicken mushroom soup ca be served as a meal with rice on the side!