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Black Chicken Soup

Black Chicken Soup

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Black chicken soup is a common Chinese 'healing' dish, used to treat a wide range of ailments. You may have to search a bit to find the chicken, but it's worth it! (Photo: ~MVI~, Flickr)MORE+LESS-


black chicken (also called 'Silkie', found in Asian markets)


teaspoon dried goji berries

Hide Images

  • 1

    Wash the black chicken and cut into smaller, soup friendly pieces.

  • 2

    Boil the chicken in water for 5 minutes and trim away any excess or visible fats.

  • 3

    Place the black chicken, dried goji berries and red dates into a slow cooker.

  • 4

    Boil the water and pour into the slow cooker.

  • 5

    Using the low setting, gently simmer for 25 minutes.

  • 6

    Add a pinch of salt to the soup before serving, or more to taste.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

Black Chicken Soup

Taste of this tonic soup was pleasant. It was fragrant, flavoursome with natural sweetness in the palate. Adding some Hua Diao wine is important to enhance the taste of the soup. This soup is healthy and beneficial for all in the family. The silky chicken is fairly small compared to a normal chicken. It does not necessarily have black feathers. In fact, its plummage is more furry than feathers and many have snowy white plummage. It is called black chicken because its beak, bones, flesh, skin and even internal organs are black or dark blue in colour. It doesn't look very appealing because of the dark colour and the meat is fairly dry (in my opinion) but it is valued for its curative effects. Modern scientific research has discovered that the silky chicken's level of protein, vitamin B, 18 amino acids and minerals are much higher than normal chicken while cholesterol and saturated fats are much lower. It is almost always prepared in tonics or herbal soups together with chinese herbs


  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks or thighs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces smoked Mexican or Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 8 scallions, finely sliced, greens and whites reserved separately
  • 2 Serrano peppers, 1 finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons), the other thinly sliced for garnish
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely minced, plus 1 tablespoon sauce from can
  • 1 1/2 quarts low sodium store-bough or homemade chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sliced avocado, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Sour cream or Mexican-style crema, for serving
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Silkie Chicken Soup (乌鸡汤)

The silkie chicken soup is a healthy, nutrient-rich savory soup with a touch of sweetness ideal for cooler weather or when you’re under the weather!

unusual-looking bird that has black skin and fluffy white feathers. The Chinese name of the chicken Wu Ji can be directed translated as “dark chicken”, referring to its unique skin color. This breed of chicken originally came from Jiangxi Province and has been around for thousands of years. The bird might look different from the typical chicken you’re familiar with, but it has tons of benefits and makes the most delicious soup.

Revered throughout China for its health benefits, this soup is something women eat after giving birth. Parents also make this simple, nutritious soup for their children during exam season because they believe it to keep them in the best health. Speaking of health, like chicken soup in America, silkie chicken soup is used to help boost immunity and maintain one’s wellness.

You can find silkie chicken at an Asian market or purchase online at Pasture Bird.

In addition to the great benefits of the silkie chicken, this soup has other ingredients in it that are ideal for good health. Ginger is one of them. A known anti-inflammatory, ginger is good for keeping illnesses away and adding that perfect flavor. I also include jujubes in my recipe. Jujubes are great for your digestive system, help regulate blood pressure, provide lots of vitamin C, and are very calming for the mind.

Before cold and flu season gets here, make this soup to keep you and your family healthy. You can also freeze the excess for when someone starts feeling ill to help get them well again.

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Nutritious Black Herbal Chicken Soup

Revitalize your energy level this week with our home cook, Anne Leong's nutritious Black Herbal Chicken Soup.

"A nourishing soup for the whole family" - Anne Leong

Research suggests that black chicken may offer higher levels of iron and nutrients, compared to regular chicken in addition to a lower fat content. Also, the black chicken is rich in antioxidant. These antioxidant are also known as Carnosine. Sufficient intake of Carnosine is beneficial to us as it fortify the immunity, strengthen the muscles and stabilizes the nervous system! So for all you gym junkies out there, this is a perfect meal packed with all kinds of gains!

For those who have tried this dish, I'm sure you're familiar with the taste - fragrant and flavoursome with tinge of sweetness. So what's the secret to the sweetness of the soup? Dried longan and honey dates! These are the 2 ingredients that gives a natural sweetness to the soup. All in all, this soup is extremely healthy and beneficial for all in the family.

Chinese Herbal Silkie Chicken Soup Recipe

Why It Works

  • Removing the cooked meat from the chicken and returning it to the broth later ensures it doesn't overcook during the long simmer of the carcass.
  • An assortment of dried roots and other aromatics adds depth and complexity to the warming broth.
  • A long gentle simmer yields a clearer broth, while a more energetic light boil produces a creamier one.

Moving to New York City as a 19-year-old was the loneliest experience I’ve ever had. I only had one friend (my new roommate), so without a safety net of family and friends, I turned to cooking as both a path to (semi-forced) social interaction and a way to carve out a new identity. In particular, I learned how to be comfortable being alone: to sit quietly in my little bedroom and enjoy chicken and rice from the famous halal cart, way before they existed as a chain to hum to myself as I meandered through the greenmarket looking for root vegetables, or along the sidewalks of Chinatown searching for fresh fruit. And when things were extra hard, like when I saw photos of college friends gathered for a group reunion and I realized I was solidly out of their lives, or my roommate informed me she decided to move back to Texas, I made myself herbal silkie soup.

I ate my fair share of traditional Chinese medicine (T.C.M.) tonics, soups, and remedies growing up, but rarely ever this one. Silkie chickens, with their higher price and lower yield, didn’t make sense to feed the three generations in my household. But on my own, with only my hunger to worry about, I was tempted by the little packages in the meat aisle. Buying one was a novelty, an act that made even the gloomiest, coldest day in the city a reason for an individual celebration. The process was a fast one—if done in the pressure cooker given to me by my mother, just 30 minutes with all the ingredients at high pressure—and I was curled up in my duvet with a bowl of soup and Law and Order: SVU playing on repeat in the background.

Food is healing, and not just emotionally. Silkie herbal chicken soup, or 乌鸡汤 (wū jī tāng), as Zoey Gong, a T.C.M. chef and founder of Five Seasons TCM, tells me, is specifically considered medicinal in the realm of T.C.M. because of its purported effects on the body: nourishing the kidney, benefiting your overall qi, which the Chinese consider the essence of life (yi qi), and replenishing blood and yin energy (zi yin). In the T.C.M. world, silkies and other breeds of chicken are categorized as ‘sweet’ in flavor (there are five flavors in total: sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty) and ‘neutral’ in effect as they don't warm or cool the body (for context, a food like watermelon is considered cooling while cinnamon is considered warming), making it an ideal base for soup.

It’s unclear where these blue-grey–skinned, poofy white-feathered chickens first originated beyond being native to South China, but those raised in Taihe County, in Jiangxi Province, are considered the best in class now. Gong tells me they reached peak fame in the Qing dynasty, where silkies were used as a tribute for the emperor (they later also appeared in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915). One thing that's certain is the intensely concentrated flavor of a silkie delivers one of the best ratios of chicken size to flavor.

There are endless variations on silkie herbal soup, changing with the seasons (what you eat is meant to be in balance with the weather outside), the ailments of the intended recipient, and the region. The most famous is one that follows T.C.M.'s practices for women’s health, consisting of jujube (which governs digestion and helps the spleen and stomach), donkey hide gelatin (an ingredient meant to replenish blood that's been linked with a serious decline in the world's donkey population), mulberry (to counteract declining kidney function related to menopause), and longan fruit (which has a calming effect, and is sweet and warming).

However, Gong has plenty of other suggestions. “If it’s summer and hot outside, you want cooling herbs to remove dampness in the body. Pearl barley is good for that,” she tells me, “while in the winter, add more warmth with ginger and warming spices like star anise and black cardamom.”

Each region in China offers its own individual take as well: “Sichuan, which is known for its high humidity, is known to add dry and numbing chiles to combat the moist, heavy air,” says Tiffany Ran, food writer and chef of Babalio Taiwanese Pop Up in Seattle. “In Dongbei, there is an abundance of large, sweet Napa cabbage. In Yunnan, fragrant mushrooms and the region's most famous cured ham will make it into this soup.”

Silkie herbal soup embodies the idea of giving and nurturing, so it’s unsurprising that it's most commonly prepared for new mothers and sick family members. As silkies are almost always sold with head and feet attached, the resulting broth is particularly creamy and full of nutritious collagen. In fact, it’s become so popular as an antidote for poor health that there are even pills made from dehydrated, ground silkies with a medley of herbs. It can also be served at celebrations and used to greet important guests, given the expense of its ingredients.

Personally, I find my version of the soup, published below, to be the most comforting, with its generous addition of date-like jujubes sweet goji berries (which are said to be good for the eyes and support the liver and kidneys) ginger shiitake (while not a T.C.M. herb, mushrooms are generally regarded as nourishing for the yin) and angelica root, a warming, aromatic, and sweet dried supplement that looks somewhat like thinly peeled and dehydrated sunchokes. “I’m glad you like this herb,” Gong says with a laugh when I tell her about this during our interview. “It’s definitely an herb meant for women, as it makes your blood alive (‘huo xue’) and harmonizes it with your body.”

Much like the soup itself, preparing and cooking silkie herbal soup is a soothing process. Fei shui, as Ran explains, is the practice of removing blood and impurities from proteins before starting the full cooking process. For delicate silkie soup, one way to do this is to par-cook the chicken and “let it sit in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes [so] any extraneous coagulated blood will surface and can be easily washed off and disposed.”

After that, it’s all about long, slow cooking—“almost sous vide,” as Gong describes it—where the chicken is gently stewed with the herbs until “even the bones are soft.” In my recipe, I add the cheffy step of separating the tender meat from the carcass as soon as it's cooked through before returning the carcass to the broth for the long simmer this helps prevent the meat from drying out while also ensuring a rich broth. The soup's final flavor is subtle yet mesmerizing the aim is for it to be “pure,” as Gong says, by extracting nutrients over a very lengthy period.

Over and over again, I’ll find myself reaching for silkie soup in times of need. It’s lasted me well beyond the windowless bedroom of that first NYC apartment, as comforting today as I cook a batch for my husband and me while we grieve for our dog, who just passed from cancer, as it was when I was all alone. Eating a spoonful is the reminder we need that we are loved and worthy of something this special.

Update Note: This article has been updated to clarify some aspects of T.C.M. philosophy and to include information about the harm of using products made from donkey hide.

Editor's Note: This article discusses the ingredients of this soup within their cultural context, which includes its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. It is not making any health claims one way or the other beyond explaining the philosophy that underpins the ingredient selection in the soup.

Black Bean Chicken Enchilada Soup


1 T. avocado oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
1 lb chicken, cut into chunks or shredded
1 clove garlic, diced
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
1 can chicken broth (or bouillon cube with water)
1 tsp cumin
1 can black or kidney beans (depending on preference, or make your own)
1/2 bag frozen corn

Optional add ins: Sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado, diced tomatoes, tortilla chips, crumbled bacon, green onions

There really is SO much you can do with this soup to make it your own! The spices, measurements and directions are just a jumping off point for you to get started.


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned.
  2. Add minced garlic, enchilada sauce, water, chicken broth and cumin.
  3. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot.
  4. Add frozen corn last when soup is just about to boil. Bring back to boil.
  5. Mix in sour cream if desired and add any additional toppings.

If you don’t have a good stockpot in your kitchen, now is the time! Fairly inexpensive but invaluable when you are cooking soups and stews. Great for doubling or tripling recipes to put in the freezer or to take to new parents or someone who just had surgery. This Cook N Home 20-quart Stainless Steel Stockpot gets great reviews on Amazon and is less than $40!

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One of the things I have come to appreciate the most about Traditional Chinese medicine is the recognition of how individuals are different. Each remedy, no matter how nutritious, isn&rsquot suitable for every person and situation.

Remember that I am using Asian ginseng in this ginseng chicken soup? This remedy is not suitable for those who have too much energy, fire and heat, of high blood pressure, or with liver and gallbladder diseases. You also shouldn&rsquot be eating ginseng chicken soup during a flu, fever or infection. Watch for signs that ginseng chicken soup may not agree with you, such as dry mouth and throat, nose bleed, headaches and insomnia. The effect of the remedy may be too stimulating and aggressive, at such times we need to back off or reduce the consumption.

Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

This Chinese herbal chicken soup recipe never fail to perk me up whenever I feel tired or under the weather. For centuries, Chinese herbs have been used in cooking to promote general well-being, boost energy and strength and treat various body ailments. Used correctly, they not only enhance the flavor of a dish but herbs with specific curative properties may help in healing and maintaining good health.

Note: This article was first posted in Nov 2015, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.

The Herbs

These are the Chinese herbs that I used for this Herbal Chicken Soup. They can be purchased from any TCM shop or even online.

Clockwise from top left: Soloman’s Seal (Yù Zhú), Rhizoma Ligustici (Chuan Xiong), Wolfberry Seeds (Gǒu Qǐ Zǐ), Astragalus Root (Běi Qí), Dried Chinese Yam (Huái Shān), Codonopsis Root (Dǎng Shēn) and Chinese Angelica Root (Dāng Guī)

Basic herbs like goji berries (wolfberries), dried Chinese yam (Huái Shān), solomon’s seal (Yù Zhú) and dried red dates are mild and can be taken by the whole family. I prefer a stronger herbal taste in my soup so I added the rest of the other herbs and used the amount required according to a pre-packed herbal soup that I tried.

From left: Dried figs, Dried red dates

The Health Benefits of Chinese Herbs

Below is a brief description of some of the Chinese herbs used in this soup and its curative properties.

1. Dried Chinese Yam – Huái Shān (淮山)
Chinese yam strengthens the spleen and stomach to aid digestion, nourishes kidney, lowers blood sugar, promotes longevity, treats loss of appetite, body fatigue, diarrhea and other diseases

2. Wolfberries – Gǒu Qǐ Zǐ (枸杞子)
Wolfberries have many nutritional values. Among them, it improves immune function, increases energy and has anti-fatigue effect, anti-cancer, improves eyesight, improves brain function and enhances learning and memory capabilities.

3. Soloman’s Seal – Yù Zhú (玉竹)
These slivers of curly herb are yellowish in colour and is believed to treat ailments related to the lungs and throat. It helps with dry cough, sore throat and thirst.

4. Astragalus Root – Běi Qí (北芪)
Astragalus is said to prevent and treat common colds and upper respiratory infections, and it’s usually combined with other herbs that also help support and strengthen the immune system, such as ginseng, angelica and licorice.

5. Codonopsis Root – Dǎng shēn (当参)
Main Codonopsis uses and indications include deficiency in lung and spleen, shortness of breath and heart palpitations, reduced appetite, loose stools, deficient asthma and cough, and heat diabetes.

6. Dried Red Dates – Hóng Zǎo ( 红枣)
Dried red dates balances qi and nourishes the blood. It also helps to improve insomnia, reduces cholesterol and protect the liver.

If you don’t have these herbs at home or don’t cook herbal soups often, buying pre-packed Chinese herbal soups will be more practical and convenient. For me, it is much more economical to buy my own Chinese herbs as I cook herbal soups from time to time. Storing them in the refrigerator will help to preserve their freshness.

The Best Soup Pot for Chinese Herbal Soups

Some Chinese herbs will react to metal so it is not advisable to cook herbal soups in metal pots. If metal pots are your only option, use stainless steel and avoid those made with aluminium, cast iron and copper. A pot with a lid is a must.

Stoneware Chinese Cooking Pot, Black, 4-Quart from Amazon

The ideal soup pots for cooking Chinese herbal soups include:

The smell that fills my entire kitchen when I boil this soup is simply amazing! I just love the herbal aroma.

Since young, I’ve been told that wolfberry seeds are good for my eyesight so I try to include them in my cooking whenever I can. One of the dishes is this steamed chicken with black fungus dish.

If you don’t already know, it is standard practice to avoid taking white radish in any form within 24 hours after consuming a herbal brew or any traditional Chinese medicine. Radish have strong detoxification properties thus it will weaken and reduce the effectiveness of any herbs.

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  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 (15-oz.) can unsalted black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 315
  • Fat 8g
  • Satfat 2g
  • Unsatfat 4g
  • Protein 35g
  • Carbohydrate 29g
  • Fiber 7g
  • Sugars 7g
  • Added sugars 0g
  • Sodium 615mg
  • Calcium 11% DV
  • Potassium 11% DV


October 29, 2013 at 12:42 am

Mmmm. yummy. I really like the soup..

October 29, 2013 at 04:25 am

Thanks Dewi. Me and my family love the soup too :)

January 6, 2014 at 08:21 am

I love the taste of the Chinese herbal soup. Is it safe to eat the boiled roots, fruits, and ginseng in the soup?

January 6, 2014 at 06:01 pm

Most are perfectly safe to be eaten EdP. For this particular soup, the two herbs that I don't eat are the astragalus root and codonopsis root, mainly because they are too fibrous and tough. The rest can be safely eaten.

My mom made a very similar soup for postpartum and my recovery after childbirth was speedy. I ate the soup for about 5 days straight and will have it about every other day. I feel much stronger.

For post delivery recovery, our family usually serve the new mom chicken in ginger and rice wine for 1 month straight :)


  1. Brooke

    Oh, how I liked it! :)

  2. Honorato

    I don't like it.

  3. Fida

    Thank you for the help in this matter. At you the remarkable forum.

  4. Levi

    Thank you for your assistance in this matter, now I know.

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