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December 24, 2020 – 1:14 pm | 3,857 views

Soup Name:  Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

Traditional Chinese Name: 清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

Introduction: This is the base Chinese Chicken Soup stock that …

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Home » 4-star, Chicken, Confinement Soups, Herbal

Worm Grass and Chicken Soup

Submitted by on June 2, 2009 – 9:05 pm9 Comments | 38,048 views

Soup Name: Worm Grass and Chicken Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 冬虫夏草雞湯 (dong chong xia cao jī tāng)

This soup was created as a tonic to help a family member recover from a recent medical health issue.    In particular, the worm grass, a very expensive ingredient (definitely one of the most expensive we’ve encountered to date), is considered an excellent ingredient to aid in the general recovery of the body.   The various other herbs such as angelica root and codonopsis pilosula root are also widely used in tonics to aid in recovery.

Although this soup does not require very advanced techniques to create it requires a double-boiler and a variety of herbal ingredients, putting this soup at a 4-star level of difficulty.   However, if you have the ingredients and a double-boiler on hand, it is relatively simple to create.

What Ingredients are required?

1 whole chicken or chicken feet or pieces
1 codonopsis pilasula root (dang shen)
1 angelica root
10 pieces of worm grass 
5 slices of astragalus root
various dates and/or figs (add to taste as sweeteners)

(if your double-boiler is too small, you may halve the ingredients)

How do I prepare it?

  1. Prepare the chicken.
  2. Thoroughly rinse all dried ingredients in cool water.
  3. Soak the dang shen, angelica root, worm grass, and astragalus root in cool water for 30 minutes
  4. Start boiling water inside a large pot.
  5. Put all ingredients together inside the double-boiler.   The water should completely cover all ingredients.   Put the lid(s) on your double-boiler (some double-boilers come with two lids).
  6. Steam the double-boiler inside the large pot for at least 2 hours (the double-boiler should not touch the water or the bottom of the large pot).  Do not open the double-boiler during the initial 2-hours of the cooking process.

Here is the a photo of our double-boiler inside the larger pot, ready for cooking.


And here is the photo of the soup fully cooked.   As you can see, it has become a clear broth with a deep. rich color.  At this point, all I need to do is remove the excess oil and particles from the surface of the soup, serve, and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • This soup is excellent to aid in the general recovery of the body (i.e. after surgery or illness)
  • This is a very neutral soup in terms of heatiness.
  • For more benefits, see the benefits of each individual ingredient
  • It is ideal extremely ideal as a confinement soup (we’ve drank it during confinement even while breastfeeding)

Any precautions?

  • With its high herb content, we do not recommend this soup for children
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  • Ling says:


    The ‘worm grass’ is actually known as cordyceps. Cordyceps are not plants at all. It is a combination of a parasitic fungus which used to prey on a particular type of caterpillar.

  • Dawn says:


    Can I know if this soup is suitable for those who undergo cataract surgery?

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Dawn, in general this soup is for overall healing of the body. It is quite potent in healing and in Chinese, we call it “BO”. This means it is quite heaty and makes your body warm (almost to the point where if you drink too much, you’ll get a nose bleed). Everyone’s body reacts different to these types of heaty soups because of how your “base” condition is. Ie: People who tend to be more heaty, should drink less and vice versa. Hope this helps and all the best to a speedy recovery! Lisa

  • Joanne says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    I am 3 months pregnant, my mom lives far away so i dont get all the herbal soups anymore. What other soups can i drink throughout my pregnancy that is good for me and the baby? And can I still drink the warm grass chicken soup?

    Thank you!

  • Alice says:

    While i found all of your resources with confinement and childrens soups to be useful, i question the safety of posting a recipe for all your herbal soups. If these soups do indded have chemical reactions inside the human body, especially for someone who is ill and likely on western medicines, never mind pregnant, its dangerous to present the existence of this herbal tonic as a recipe for some one to attempt without consulting an herbalist who has the training to bundle a safe dose with tailor made instructions on how to prepare the herbs for a specific patient. Also, these herbs might react dangerously with western medicine. Western medicine, as you probably know, bases a lot of its products with ingredients found in nature, only distilled or compounded for max potency. I am not saying remove all your recipes, but perhaps you could revise all the four star difficult herbal recipes into articles explaining the background and use of an herbal concoction, and recommendations to consult an herbalist or chinese medicine doctor before ingesting. Your mother must be very skilled but if you asked her about the concerns i listed above, perhaps she would agree that the art of medicine is not for everyone. If you still want to present this as a recipe, please consider asking your mom about weight ranges for these herbs. Not all cordeycep caterpillar is uniform nor a root the same length. Thank you for reading. Hopefully, you are not offended.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Alice,

    Thank you for your advice and suggestions. We will go back and add exact weight for the herbs. You’re right – we’re not practitioners, nor are we doctors. We have stated this in our privacy statement and readmes and we highlight it all the time. As with all things on the internet, take with caution, in moderation and judgment. These recipes are merely a journey of our soup experience – by no means is it prescriptive or directive instructions as any cure. Lisa

  • Joanna says:

    Hi Lisa, I have learned a lot from you already and hope you will solve my dilemma. I want to learn to make soups using “double boiler” technique – I do not really want to use expensive ingredients (bird nest, shark fin) for that, just maybe black chicken with some herbs and so on. It is difficult to find English instructions on double boiling. I see you clearly state the water should not touch the boiler, while in some other sources I saw the boiler covered in water to half or even 3/4 of its height. Does it matter very much? And with your method – will the water in the outside pot be enough to boil for several hours? Also I have a question about the size of the pot. I want to cook soups for two people and prefer to have no leftovers. What size of the pot do you suggest? And the final question. If I am not really into cooking expensive foods – wouldn’t I better use just a normal metal pot for my soups? What do you think?

  • YLK says:

    “This is a very neutral soup in terms of heatiness.”

    How are some of the heaty/warm by nature ingredients neutralized?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear YLK, ginger is one of the most common “cooling” neutralizers. For example, if you’re making a watercress soup, drop in 3-4 slices of ginger to reduce the coolness of the soup. The opposite to remove heatiness from a soup is much harder than the other way around. You can consider adding water chestnuts, watercress, dried bak choy, and snow pears. This will depend on whether the cooling ingredient matches the rest of the soup. Hope this helps!

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