Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

I admit it, chicken soup with Chinese Wild Yam isn’t your normal chicken soup. But it is delicious, and healthy. The colder days have arrived in Hong Kong and soup is pure comfort food. I usually put loads of vegetables in my chicken soup, like onion, celery, garlic, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, (sometimes,) green onions and parsley. This time when I made it, instead of adding potatoes, I added Chinese Wild Yam. It’s a starchy vegetable with it’s own unique taste.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

Chinese Wild Yam

Let me tell you about Chinese Wild Yam.Chinese Wild Yam is a super-vegetable in the Orient. The Chinese name, shan yao, means “medicine of the mountain.” As such, it’s a very important herb in Chinese medicine. One of it’s uses is to remove excess water from the body, like when your legs are full of fluid, it can help to remove it over time and repeated use.

I can buy it in the local wet market, but you might need to seek out an Asian supermarket to find this vegetable. It’s sold as a long, dirty, hairy tap root, or you can buy it in the Chinese herbal medicine shop, chopped and dried. I always use the fresh root. It’s usually about 1 to 1 1/2 feet long. I understand why they leave the dirt on it, because when it’s exposed to light, the flesh underneath the skin will turn green, just like in potatoes. Keep it in a dark place.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild YAm

You will need to wash it and pare it and slice it before cooking. As you pare the skin away, you’ll notice that it’s very slimy, and it’ll become increasingly difficult to hang onto it. . You might want to use gloves when handling this vegetable, because it may cause a skin irritation if you have sensitive skinI do this job under running water. Then I lay it on a cutting board and slice it in 1/2 inch coins, quartering them, before tossing into a dish of water to cover them until I put them in the soup. I drain off the water before adding the Chinese Wild Yam to the pot.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

The problem with many of my recipes, especially soups, is that I don’t use precise measurements. I usually eye-ball the size of the vegetable and decide the amounts by how much will fit in the pot. And I go by taste when it comes to fine tuning the flavor. I will do my best to give you some measurements to guide you.

The Ingredient List:

Ginger, a large knob, peeled and roughly cut

1 whole chicken, cut in half, skin removed

2 chicken feet (Ha-ha! They came in the package with the chicken, so I put them in the pot too. You can omit them.)

Water to cover the chicken in the pot.

1 onion, finely chopped

3 or 4 ribs of celery, chopped

2 medium size carrots

2 sweet potatoes

1/2 a Chinese Wild Yam, sliced and quartered

1 chicken boullion cube, (I used Massel brand)

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

The Method:

First of all, clean the chicken with cold running water and add to a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Add the peeled, chopped ginger to the pot and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken begins to fall away from the bone.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

When the broth is finished, take the chicken and chicken feet out of the pot and skim the fat off the top. If you’re using a Chinese chicken, there’ll be lots of fat. Set the chicken aside to cool. Toss the chicken feet, unless you’re a chicken feet fan. I’m told they taste quite good, but I’ll never know!

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

While the broth has been cooking, prepare the vegetables for the soup. I take into account that some vegetables cook more quickly than others, so I cut them up accordingly, carrots smaller than the potatoes, for example, because carrots take longer to cook, then I add them all to the pot at the same time. Chinese Wild Yam will have a slightly crunchy texture when cooked. I usually slice and quarter the Chinese Wild Yam, but the rest I cut up into cubes. It is so slimy, I try to handle it as little as possible. It will disintegrate if cooked too long.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

Once the chicken is removed, I add all the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and continue cooking until the vegetables are done. While the vegetables are cooking, I take the chicken off the bones and chop it roughly. Once the vegetables are cooked, I add the chicken to the soup.

I add the chicken boullion at this point. Stir it into the soup until it dissolves. Then I add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

Lastly, as a finishing touch, I add the parsley and green onions.

Chicken Soup with Chinese Wild Yam

Then, it’s done.

It’s as simple as that. You can season it as you wish. I sometimes add a teaspoon of dried Herbs de Provence for extra flavor.

Irish Wheaten Bread makes a wonderful accompaniment to this easy chicken soup.

Do you have a favorite soup recipe?

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