We like to drink soup. Westerners like creamy soup, Asians like herbal soup. Singaporeans like both creamy soup e.g. Cream of mushroom and herbal soup e.g. Ginseng Chicken soup. In Singapore, it is easy to find stores or even top-notch Chinese restaurant selling good tonic soup. However, it’s still the best to boil your homemade one! More economical, and more ingredients put in the soup, agree?
Some of my friends told me that they do not have time to boil herbal soup as it takes hours to extract the essence of the herbs. I suggested them using a slow cooker. Some said they heard that the soup cooked from slow cooker does not taste nice. That’s not true! I used slow cooker to boil some herbal/ tonic soups and Bak Kut Teh (Meaty pork bone herbal soup) even. Just put water, meat, and herbs or herbs packet in the pot, set slow cooker to Auto mode to slow boil in the morning before going to work. By the time, we reached home in the evening, the aroma of ginseng soup filled the house…. Add in salt to taste, just about 5 min before served.
No worries as soup would never dry up no matter how long it’s boiled since set mode to Auto, soup taste was so full, and the meat became so juicy and tender after boiling for more than half a day. It is as good as boiling with fire for hours. In fact, steaming (炖) method will be a better choice.
Anyway, it’s also fine not to use slow cooker. Some herbal/ tonic soups do not require long hour boiling, for instances, Chicken with Ginseng Beard Soup (洋参须鸡汤). Stove boiling method is fine, still.
Chicken with ginseng soup is healthy and economical (depends on the grade and quality of ginseng) to cook. Most commonly comsumed is the Korean Ginseng and Chicken Soup. However, I like American Ginseng. If cooking with whole ginseng root, it’s taste might be too strong for some people. So, use ginseng beard or slices is also good. I used ginseng beard most of the time.
Some people like to cook it with whole black chicken as they claimed that black chicken is better for health, but I prefer to use white meat, chicken drumstick part for soup. Ginsengs are also segregated into use of different parts of it, different classifications/ types from various origin countries, and with the differences in “heaty” and “cooling” effects. Frankly speaking, I’m yet to explore more on Ginseng types. In the meantime, I can only tell you that the ginseng (I called it American ginseng) that I used, is for “cooling” effect. It is not costly type, I bought a packet for only $8 (which can be used up to 2 portions each serves 3 – 4 person).
Soup is the best food for dieting, only if the soup is not too oily! To boil good healthy and low calorie tonic soup, I suggest using chicken breast. Drumstick is also good, only if without skin! So, cut away the skin before putting into the soup pot. As for my cooking style, I cut away all the fat and skin, but leave a little skin at the lower part of the bone. I like to have a little bit of chicken oil to add taste to my soup (chuckling)… Calories of a big bowl of chicken ginseng soup counts about 150 kcal. Soup with chicken can be served as 1-dish meal. Enjoy it with a bowl of rice! Yummy, but don’t forget the rice will add another 180 kcal.
Try my recipe, very easy and hassle-free. Need not to use slow cooker or boil for hours, unless you wish to. Make it right away, the soup with chicken will be served in 1 hr time.
4 chicken drumsticks, skinned (medium – large size)
Handful of ginseng beard (about 50 – 80g)
1 tablespoon of dried Chinese Wolfberries (Lycium chinense, 枸杞)
1 chicken stock cube
Sprinkles of salt to taste
1000ml of water (about 5 cups)
1. Boil a pot of water over medium-high fire. Add stock cube.
2. Put in chicken drumsticks, ginseng and wolfberries, when cube dissolved. Bring all ingredients to a boil again. Reduce heat, simmer for 40 min. Covered with lid. Stir in salt.
3. Serve hot as 1-dish meal, or drink before/ during dinner.
Tips:I like to add chicken stock cube to cook the soup. Add it at the beginning of cooking, when water boiled. It makes the soup tastier and more fragrant. Choose chicken stock cube without MSG added. Optional.
*Taste the soup before adding salt to it. Skip salt, if added stock cube, depends on your liking.