Many of us have heard of many famous Chinese soups like Bird’s Nest soup and hot and sour soup as well as the intriguing Buddha jumps over the wall soup. Do you know that the Chinese use soup for medicinal as well as food purposes? The Chinese believe in the balancing of the yin and yang or hot and cold forces of nature and this is the basis of the ingredients used in Chinese soups.
Aside from the nutritional value of the food itself, the Chinese use medicinal properties of the ingredients in the soup to maintain good health or to speed along recovery of sick individuals with these ingredients. Ideally, fresh ingredients are used and where possible, the best quality is also used. An example of soup valued for its healing properties is the Bird’s Nest soup. In Mandarin, this is called the yan wo or literally Swallow’s Nest.
These are edible nests of the swift or swallow. When mixed with water, the nests which are whitish become jelly like and believed to have many health benefits. Among the benefits include improving the immune system, and speeding up the rebirth of cells. The bird’s nest could cost hundreds of dollars but when regularly consumed, it is believed to improve resistance to diseases in children by boosting the immune system, strengthen lungs and kidneys of men as well as improve the skin of women. Others believe it can help people suffering from asthma.
Meanwhile there are soups that are believed to relieve colds and bring down fevers. When one has a fever, the Chinese believe that drinking soup that has more yin will bring down the fever and when one has a cold, he will be given soup that had more yang to balance out the lack of yang forces in the body. Examples of these soups include the winter melon soup which is used to cool down the body and usually taken during the hot summer months. Chrysanthemum is also incorporated in foods to achieve the same purpose. For the cold months, ginseng and ginger could be used to warm the body that may be lacking in yang energy. The hot and sour soup is also said to be good for colds.
Many Chinese soups use herbs and plants with medicinal properties as ingredients. It is these ingredients as well as the balancing of the nutrients in the other ingredients that bring us a lot of benefits. It is all in the balancing of the different elements in nature as the Chinese believe. And if you feel out of sorts, why not take in some Chinese soup to balance out what’s bothering you?