Wei Chi Soup
Several years back during my herbal apprenticeship at Goldthread Herbs, an incredibly talented William Siff taught me about wei chi soup.
In case you’re wondering, wei chi soup is a magical concoction from the far lands of East Asia. It brings a promise of boosting your immune system and enhancing your health.
His packet had all the herbs nicely combined together. The recipe encouraged to cook with chicken, throwing in your favorite vegetables. I remember carefully studying the packet that recommended to repeat this ‘treatment’ several times a month during the winter. I bought one to experiment with.
Right now, as I am writing these words, I am looking at the label I cut out and saved in my herbal diary. I initially pulled the package apart, separating the ingredients in my effort to understand just how much of each ingredient makes this amazing elixir. It was super exciting to make this soup, but something didn’t turn out well for me.
If you read my article on mushrooms, you might remember that Reishi is quite bitter in taste. As much as I tried, I couldn’t force myself to fall in love with this soup.
Fast forward another year, I was experimenting with some recipes from the lovely Rosalee de la Foret. Rosalee’s Tom Kha soup was absolutely delicious. Perfect for a cold day, versatile enough to use chicken or salmon, and delivering a unique and fabulous flavor. (If you like Asian food, give it a try.)
The recipe asked for bone broth as one of the main ingredients, prompting me to explore it for the first time. It was right after Thanksgiving, we made a beautiful turkey and had tons of bones left. I embraced this opportunity!
Everything I read sounded wonderful – bone broth (also called liquid gold) is a way to deliver more collagen making you look younger, it’s there to help to curb cravings. Bone broth is also packed with nutrients and minerals. Glycine in it helps to re-energize your cells. Glucosamine/chondroitin and hyaluronic acid keep your joints flexible. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in bone broth are more bioavailable to your body.
I was excited about incorporating bone broth into my daily routine, but have to admit, I failed again.
Bone broth always looked so wonderful on the pictures I saw, and I previously liked using it as a base for my soups and stews. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it more appealing as my daily drink.
During the summer when I drink smoothies, substituting bone broth for some of the other liquids was a good place to start. Other ingredients masked the flavor easily. But as temperatures got lower outside and my body didn’t crave berry-rich liquid breakfast I had to explore new ways.
Hybridizing the Two
After cooking bone broth several times, I looked back at the recipe of wei chi soup. The combination of bones and herbs made it a perfect hybrid in my mind – I was making a medicine in a pot.
- Bones – chicken, turkey, beef, lamb – you can even make it with the whole chicken
- Apple cider vinegar (a splash)
- Roots – astragalus (few tablespoonfuls) and ginger (few inches long)
- Mushrooms – shiitake, chaga (use sometimes – it turns broth and meat very dark)
- Berries – goji (few tablespoonfuls)
- Veggies – carrots, onions, celery, celery root (a combination of any of these to taste)
- Spices – thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage (a combination of any of these, often I just use thyme alone)
I’d like to encourage you to get to know your local meat farmer. I get my bones form Stillman Quality Meats farm. I’m happy to know they come from primarily grass-fed animals.
Any of the herbs I mention could be purchased through Mountain Rose Herbs or other herbal distributors. Things like like ginger and mushrooms, you can find in your local stores.
- Combine the first 6 ingredients in your slow cooker, cook for 24-36 hours
- Add spices after turning the heat off – I leave them for 15-30 minutes to infuse
- Strain solids, leave the liquid to cool in refrigerator
- Skim the fat to discard
- Pour broth into ice trays, freeze in cubes – you are done!
A friend of mine suggested to freeze the broth in ice trays, and I love this strategy. I know I always have the broth on hand in my freezer. And I’m not worried about the shelf life of bone broth any longer (compared to when it was stored in the refrigerator).
4 great ways to use
- Use broth cubes as a base for your soup or stew – these are some great recipes of soups to try
- Mix 3-4 cubes with hot water and a splash of apple or organge juice/switchel to enhance the flavor of your daily dose of bone broth
- Add to miso paste like South River Miso and hot water for a great cup of miso soup
- Use cubes in your smoothies
Questions: Have you ever tried making bone broth or wei chi soup? What was your experience like?
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