My Rift on TCM
(Traditional Chinese Medicine) Herbal Broth
Makes about 2 litres of soup
This soup is on the go constantly in a slow cooker at my place all Winter long. It is a rift on what my mum made when I was younger partly because it is something you can put in a slow cooker for long periods and forget about and also because it is very nourishing and can be bulked up into a meal. She used to say to me- and I’m sure she said this as her mother used to tell her- ‘drink this in place of water’. Now I find myself repeating the same phrase to my kids who do in fact have it for breakfast bulked up with cooked sprouted grains, or for lunch with pasta thrown into it and for dinner as a side.
1kg of chicken feet (we buy chooks that are Humane Choice raised) or carcasses, cleaned
1 large handful dried Chinese yams (Huai shan-dioscorea opposita), rinsed
1 large handful dang shen (Codonopsis root), rinsed
1 large handful astragalus, rinsed
1 large handful dried Solomons seal root, rinsed
1 large handful dried apricot kernels (Xing ren) rinsed
5 dried Jujubes (Chinese red dates), rinsed
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 whole head garlic, outer layer peeled but can be left as a whole head with skin on
1 large handful coriander root, cleaned of all soil
1 head of ginger, cleaned and sliced
Celtic sea salt & Braggs Aminos to taste
1 large handful of goji berries, rinsed for serving
I rinse the dried herbs to get rid it of any impurities and residue.
In a slow cooker (I use a 4.8L Purple Clay slow cooker from Tiger) or large stock pot place all ingredients except for salt, aminos and goji berries, then fill with filtered water leaving a 5-10cm space to the brim. The reason being when the cooker/pot is at a boil there may be overflow so prevent this by allowing room in the pot.
If using a slow cooker put it on the lowest setting. If on the stove top, keep it on a low boil. Make sure to skim the broth as it is boiling to get rid of any foamy scum that might come from the bones. Expect it to cook for at least 3-4 hours.
I know it is ready when the liquid has approximately reduced to half what it was when I first started. Also because the whole house smells like a Chinese herb shop. At this point, I season to taste. Start with a tsp of Celtic sea salt and a tsp of Braggs, taste and then season again until you feel it is balanced. The sweetness will vary depending on the quality of your ingredients.
I start off light with the seasoning because I actually keep the slow cooker going and the soup gets saltier and sweeter. After one serve I sometimes add more water and leave it again until the next meal. I usually don’t do this more than once as, like any herbal tea, the first draw is always the most potent.
When you are serving, add your goji berries into each person’s bowl individually rather than throwing it in the pot. The nutritional benefits of the goji is best extracted without being given too much heat. This way, the heat of the soup will soften the berries almost immediately and unlike when you try to eat raw goji berries it won’t be gummy and stick in your molars! The first bowl we have of a new batch is almost always drunk straight up.
All the herbs I suggested can be purchased at a good TCM Herbal Purveyor, ask your Asian friends where their parents buy theirs from. I know this is a stereotype but I can almost 100% guarantee you, they’ll have a source because almost all the Asian’s I know have a variation of this soup going at their place during the Winter. Truth.
Palisa Anderson is Director of the Chat Thai group of restaurants in Sydney, the original restaurant was started by her mum Amy Chanta in 1989. You can follow Palisa on Instagram @palisaanderson and the restaurants @chatthailife and @boon_cafe