TCM (Traditional chinese medicine) herbal broth by Palisa Anderson (Chat Thai)


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

Beetroot & fennel seed soup by Thomasina Miers (Wahaca)

Photography by Tara Fisher

Photography by Tara Fisher

Serves 4-6

I'll never forget a dinner we had for a huge gaggle of our Wahaca staff at Hartwood, a smart beach-side restaurant in Tulum Mexico. They served giant whole beets they'd roasted in their wood-fired oven, sitting on beautifully seasoned labneh; our team couldn't believe how good they were. This soup is my take on borscht, with fennel seeds and chilli adding wonderful accents of flavour.

For the soup
6 medium beetroots
3-4 floury potatoes (about 500g)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1tsp fennel seeds
A few pinches of chilli flakes
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.4 litres of chicken, beef or vegetable stock

For the creme fraiche
Large thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled
250ml creme fraiche
Finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 1/2 lime

Top and tail the beetroot, rinse the top stalks and any leaves in cold water, roughly chop and set aside. Scrub the beets and potatoes clean with a coarse scourer and roughly dice the beets. Peel the potatoes and dice into the same size as the beets.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onions, fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat for about 8 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the garlic and vegetables. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring them to coat in the spices. Season generously with salt and pepper, pour in the stock to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. When the vegetables are completely soft, blitz with a stick blender.

Grate the ginger into the creme fraiche. Add the lime zest and juice and a pinch of salt to season. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and saute the beet tops for a few minutes until soft and hot. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a dollop of the creme fraiche and a sprinkling of the tops. 

Thomasina is the chef and co-founder of the Wahaca group of restaurants in the UK. You can follow her on Instagram @thomasinamiers This recipe and image are from her latest cookbook Home Cook (Guardian Faber, £25) 

Mushroom & barley soup by Jane Lawson

Jane second crop.png

Serves 4-6

210 g pearl barley
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
400 g field mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a few slices of dried porcini (cep) mushroom, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig, leaves finely chopped
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 whole pickled herring (about 100 g), soaked in cold water for 1 hour, or 2 anchovies, very finely chopped
2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) veal or chicken stock
1 large floury potato, finely diced

Pickled mushroom cream
100 g button mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
125 g (½ cup) sour cream
a small handful of dill, chopped
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Thoroughly rinse the barley, then soak in water overnight. Drain well.

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Add the field mushrooms and garlic, stir to combine, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have wilted. Add the crumbled dried mushroom, bay leaf, thyme, allspice, white pepper and herring and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook for 30 minutes, then add the barley and potato. Bring to the boil again, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, to make the pickled mushroom cream, combine the chopped mushrooms, vinegar, garlic, white pepper and a couple of large pinches of salt. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop. Combine the mushroom mixture with the sour cream and herbs and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve the hot soup with a dollop of mushroom cream.

Jane Lawson is a cookbook author, publishing consultant and runs regular cuisine and culture tour in Japan, you can follow her on Instagram @janelawsonfood
Image and recipe from Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.95