Broth Broth Broth Broth.. sick of hearing about it already? Thought you learnt all there is to know about it, starting to think it could be a diet fad to rival green smoothies? Should kale and quinoa get nervous? Things may be blowing up in the media and people touting all sorts of claims, but really, but it’s a very normal part of diets occurring across the globe . It is especially present in cultures where they need to utilise as much as they can from their produce and livestock in an effort to have enough to nourish and strengthen the tribe.
Not only that, it’s easy to make, nutrient dense, easily absorbable by the body, warming and welcome in the colder months and suitable for all ages.
More specifically, adding medicinals to your soup stock is way old grandmothers medicine in China. The synergistic effect of combining both food and medicine in Chinese culture has been understood and utilised for a long time. It has a beneficial effect on vitality, energy, immunity and fertility.
So, if you’re looking for recipes to make a great stock or broth, there are plenty out there for you to google to find one that suits you. What I’m not hearing much about and what can really take your broth to the next level, are some common Chinese medicinal herbs for soup that can really boost the health enhancing qualities of your broth or stock.
As you start to utilise food as medicine, you can find recipes to target particular aspects of health. Books like Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford or Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon are amazing resources in the field.
If you shop in areas of high asian population, such as China Town or Victoria St, Richmond in Melbourne, you may start to see some little bags of goodies ( aka a bag of herbs ready to pop in your cooking) showing up in the grocery stores and the herbalists, such as these underneath. I urge you to step inside and ask the staff about them and how to use them as they can offer some helpful information and occasionally family recipes.
So what are these herbs?
There are some common herbs/foods such as :
RED / BLACK DATES (Da Zao) These sweet dates are packed full of vitamins and have anti-cancer properties. They help ‘build blood’
GOJI BERRIES (Go Qi Zi) A long time staple of the Chinese kitchen. Great for eye and liver health , are rich in anti-oxidants and improve circulation and ‘build blood’
FRESH GINGER (Sheng Jiang) Assists in regulating the immune system, benefits the digestion and warms the body.
and .. it’s about to get more Chinesey.. and often you may need to request them from a herbalist, or from me
GUI ZHI (Cinnamon Twig) It helps stabilise the immune system when attacked by a pathogen , it’s great for pain and warms the body.
HUANG QI (Astragalas) This herb is a powerhouse for ‘tonifying the Qi’ It helps with fatigue, strengthens the lungs, stops diarrhea and stabilizes the immune system.
DANG SHEN (Codonopis) Also known as the ‘poor mans ginseng’ this herb is similar to Huang Qi in that it strengthens the lungs, helps cough, stops diarrhea and ‘tonifies the Qi’
DANG GUI– (Angelica) This herb ‘builds blood’ and improves the circulation, really beneficial for womb stuff, stops pain, moves your bowels, heals trauma.
There are other herbs you can use also such as Chinese Yam, Ginseng, Lily Bulb, the above are just my personal favourites for their potency, flavour, availability and cost.
So once you’ve got them, how to use them?
You don’t need much, generally they will come mixed together and at the dosage for one large pot. If you don’t want to, you don’t need to use them all. These herbs add flavour to your soup/broth. Just like any cooking adjust them for your personal preference and taste. Rinse your herbs before you cook them and add them once you have added your water to your broth. Before serving, I recommend removing them as they can be quite tough and chewy except for the berries dates and ginger.
Flavour– Adding the dates and /or Goji berries will add a sweetness and it’s best to use them conservatively so as to not overpower a savoury dish. I’m sure your all familiar with the spicy and warming taste of ginger or cinnamon. Huang Qi, Dang Shen and Dang Gui are the ones that will probably be newish to many a palette and not all people will like them. Huang Qi is has a slighty sweet flavour, is a bit woody but quite mild in taste. Dang Shen is again quite mild and woody. Dang Gui is bitter, so some may not like it’s flavour, especially at first. It is also sweet and best not to go to overboard with this one, especially first go.
Dosage-This is really dependant on your quantity. A general rule of thumb would be for one large pot
- 2-3 dates
- 10-20 goji berries
- 3 slices of fresh ginger
- 2-3 pieces of Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica) up to 10gm
- 4-5 sticks of Dang Shen (Codonopis) up to 10 gm
- 2-4 pieces of Huang Qi (Astragalas)
These are the main guns when it comes to medicinal broth, I however, love to add
- 10-15 pieces of Gui Zhi, up to 10gm (Cinnamon Twig) for flavour, warmth and it’s immune effect.
How Often Should I Take it/Make it? 1-2 x month in the cooler/cold months is ideal. For woman-to have after a menstrual cycle is especially beneficial.
Just be careful if you have a flu/cold in full swing as these nourishing and strengthening herbs can sometimes ‘strengthen and nourish the pathogen’ best to take it often and as a preventative.
For Autumn/Winter Cloud Gate Therapeutics is selling pre-made packs of the above herbs for you for $7 a pack. Please contact us if you require some.