4 herbal soups for the wet and damp weather

Meals were a largely predictable affair in my household, and it was a good thing.

When the dark clouds loomed overhead, it meant that soup would be served to keep the family warm.

My mother would whip up a piping hot bowl of chicken soup with cordyceps and golden mushrooms whenever the mercury dipped.

I grew up associating a good bowl of soup with family warmth, and it was comforting, especially when I started my career in the Navy and the chef on board my ship would cook a large pot of soup for the crew.

It reminded us of home when we were sailing for long deployments thousand of miles away from Singapore.

Perhaps it's nostalgia, but that bowl of soup was magical when the weather turned chilly, marking the onset of the flu season when immune systems took a toll.

Raw herbs like cordyceps and ginseng, which are commonly used to boost energy levels and the immune system, can also be added to soups.

Here are 4 nourishing herbal soup recipes perfect for those rainy and under-the-weather days:

Chicken soup with cordyceps

The benefits of cordyceps read like an elixir with its numerous health benefits: It is used in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to fortify the lungs and kidneys while strengthening the immune system.

The herb was thrown into the spotlight during the 1993 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Germany, when a group of Chinese athletes broke nine world records.

Their secret wasn't steroids, but cordyceps tonics brewed by their coach Ma Zu Ren.

This herb is also commonly used to treat effects from lung disorders (pulmonary heart disease) like chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.

While the highly prized herb is frequently prescribed by TCM practitioners for its harmonious balance of yin and yang, cordyceps has a slightly warm nature, making it an excellent addition to your soup when the weather turns chilly.

All you need is 10g of cordyceps added to your soup to enhance its flavour with a sweet tinge.

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this soup:

-1 chicken, about 1kg
-10g of cordyceps
-20g of Chinese yam
-30g of fragrant Solomon's seal rhizome
-6 to 8 pieces of dried longans
-1 tbs of Chinese wolfberries, heaped
-1 litre of water
-2 tsp of salt

Get the full recipe here.

Cordyceps pork soup with fish maw and yam

Cordyceps is commonly added to chicken soup, but it goes well with other ingredients too.

Online site Chinese Herbal Recipes has an excellent repository of herbal soups, and here is their recipe for cordyceps pork soup with fish maw and yam:

-100g of dried cod maw, or any other fish maw, rinsed
-3 litres (12 cups) of water
-500g of lean pork, rinsed and scalded with boiling water
-40g of wild yam, rinsed
-10 pieces of Chinese cordyceps, rinsed
-1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Get the recipe here.

Lotus and ginseng with black-boned chicken soup

Chewing a slice of ginseng before the onslaught of exams and countless hours of studying was a ritual. It would boost energy levels and help with concentration, my grandmother would say.

In TCM, ginseng can help stave off lethargy. It is widely prescribed to help boost energy levels and restore qi (vital life force) levels in the body.

This wholesome soup also has lotus seeds, which help to soothe the heart and promote sleep.

If you are still not convinced of this soup's nourishing properties, chicken soup is also exalted in the West as a remedy against the flu.

The gelatinous soup protects and heals the lining of the digestive tract and aids in nutrient absorption.

You can also add wolfberries to this rich broth which promotes youthful-looking skin and good vision.

To make this soup, all you need is:

-10g of American ginseng
-15g of cistanche root
-20g of Chinese yam
-20g of lotus seeds
-15g of Chinese wolfberry
-1 of black-boned chicken (skinned)
-25g of dried scallop
-2 slices of fresh ginger
-2 strips of green onions(sliced thinly)
-1 tablespoon of ginger liquer
-A little white pepper powder

Get the full recipe here.

Savoury double-boiled bird's nest soup

Bird's nest, which is the solidified saliva of swiftlets, is classified as a tonic in TCM, so it's better to be consumed on an empty stomach to absorb its nutrients, rather than as a dessert.

What better way to drink it as a savoury dish?

Women also swear on bird's nest as a beauty food.This dish is rich in glycoprotein, proteins, amino acids and minerals which is good for the immune system and helps with the development of children.

Scientific studies have shown that bird's nest is rich in epidermal growth factor (EGF), which is responsible for skin and tissue repair.

Its healing properties against chronic dry coughs and fatigue also make it a favourite among the elderly.

When taken with black chicken, ginseng, red dates and wolfberries, this soup makes it extremely wholesome and nourishing, especially when it rains.

To make this dish, you will need:

-20g of bird's nest
-800g of black chicken
-50g of American ginseng
-8 pieces of almonds
-8 pieces of red dates
-20 pieces of wolfberries
-20g of chestnut
-8 pieces of dumpling skin
-1500ml of mineral water
-A pinch of salt
-A handful of chopped coriander

Get the full recipe here.

Why buy Eu Yan Sang raw cordyceps?

There are many varieties of cordyceps in the market, so do ensure that it comes from reliable and reputable sources.

Top-grade raw cordyceps from Eu Yan Sang are certified by government authorities, and are harvested yearly from the highlands in Tibet and Qinghai.

This article was sponsored by Eu Yan Sang.