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Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

5 from 1 vote
The cooking time varies depending on the cooking method you use. It can take up to 10 hours if cooking in a slow cooker.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 to 6
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 1.5 to 2 kilograms (3 to 4 pounds) bone-in skin-on thigh (or whole chicken) (*Footnote)
  • 1 thumb ginger , sliced
  • 4 green onions

Herbal Mix

  • 1/4 cup goji berries Gou Qi Zi
  • 10 dried longan Long Yan Rou
  • 10 pieces Chinese wild yam Huai Shan
  • 5 dried dates Hong Zhao
  • 5 pieces codonopsis Dang shen
  • 4 pieces astragalus Huang Qi


  • Chopped cilantro or green onion for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooked noodles for noodle soup (Optional)
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetables such as baby spinach, broccoli, and / or mushrooms (Optional)



  • Add chicken into a medium size pot. Add 6 to 8 cups water, until just covering the chicken. Bringing the water to a simmer over medium-high heat and turn to medium-low heat immediately. Simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off the brown foam from top of the soup and discard.
  • Add ginger and green onion. Rinse the herbal mix under tap water and add to the soup. Simmer for at least 1 hour for a milder soup, or up to 3 hours for a darker and richer soup.

Slow cooker

  • Add chicken, ginger, green onion, and herbal mix into a slow cooker and 6 cups water to cover. Cook on low for 6 to 10 hours or on high for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the richness of the herbal flavors you prefer.

Pressure cooker

  • Add chicken, ginger, green onion, herbal mix and 6 cups water in a pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. If using an Instant Pot, choose manual, and set timer to 30 minutes. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook over medium high heat until high pressure is reached. Turn to medium low heat. Continue to cook 30 minutes.


  • Skim chicken fat from top of the soup and discard. Filter the soup with a fine mesh to remove the herbs. From the herb mix, the red dates, goji berries, and Chinese yam are all edible. You can either serve them with the soup or discard them with the rest of the herbs.
  • At the end of cooking, remove chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate to cool, so you can begin to shred it.
  • (Optional) Add vegetables into the soup and simmer until the vegetables are just cooked through.
  • (Optional) You can add cooked noodles to make the dish more substantial.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onion and serve hot.
  • Check this post to learn more ways to cook with leftover chicken.


  1. Always use bone-in dark meat (leg and / or thigh) to allow this soup to develop a rich flavor.
  2. Alternatively you can use the chicken back and neck with a longer cooking time (3 to 4 hours on stove top or 8 to 10 hours in slow cooker). Please note, the longer cooking time also means a darker and more herby soup.
  3. If you like like white meat, add chicken breast at the beginning and take it out once its just cooked through. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes simmering on the stove top and about 3 hours in the slow cooker (on low). The weight of chicken breast should not be included to make this soup.