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Toronto, ON M5T 1P2

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Change of Season Soup!

October 1, 2016 by headtotoe


Ancient traditional Chinese medical practitioners were paid to keep clients well instead of helping them get better once they were ill.  To them, it didn’t make sense to begin digging a well when you are already thirsty or foraging for weapons after engaging in battle. 

This traditional Chinese medicine soup is used to strengthen and cleanse the body and build immune defences to prevent illnesses as the seasons change – a time when many of us are particularly susceptible to colds & flu’s.  This soup is meant to improve your immune system for the coming winter months, not to remedy a current cold.  Those who have a cold should wait until the cold has passed to utilize these immune boosting herbs.

The herbs for Change of Season Soup can be purchased individually or pre-packaged together at traditional Chinese medicine stores, herbal dispensaries and some health food stores.



Astragalus membranosus (Huang Qi) – 4 sticks, 15cm long each

  • A root that supports and balances the immune system and improves energy and resilience to life’s stressors.  It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Codonopsis pilosula (Dang Shen) – 4 sticks, 10cm long each

  • A root that helps strengthen Qi energy, improves immune defences and nourishes the body.

Discorea opposita (Chinese wild Yam)

  • Anti-inflammatory, soothes digestion.  Strengthens the lungs and kidneys.

Lyciium barbarum (Goji berries) – 3 tbsp

  • Goji berries help to strengthen the liver and the kidneys.  Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, nutritive (high in calcium and vitamin C).


This soup can be made with the above ingredients alone, simmered for 2-4 hours in a covered pot with 4-6L of water.  These herbs can also be used as a base for a nutritious (and delicious) bone or vegetable soup.  I’ve usually kept it pretty simple and just added organic vegetable bouillon, celery, carrots and an onion but below are some additional tasty options:

  • 1 whole chicken carcass or beef bones
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic (5-10 for some serious anti-microbial activity)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • Your choice of fresh fall produce: carrots, celery, mushrooms, squash, beets, swiss chard, kale, beet greens, etc.
  • salt and/or bouillon as desired



  • Bring a 4-6L pot of water to a boil.  Add all the ingredients to the pot (except leafy greens). Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 2-4 hours until chicken and vegetables are well cooked. Remove herbs and bones, add leafy greens, and continue cooking until greens are wilted. Serve!
  • Tips for the Herbs:
    • The herbs are not meant to be eaten.  You can place the herbs in a tea sock or cheesecloth bag for easy removal otherwise they can be strained out.  That said, if the herbs are left in the soup they tend to sink to the bottom and can be quite easily avoided while scooping the soup out.

Drink 1 cup or bowl every day for 2 weeks. This soup is also safe for children but the amount needs to be adjusted for weight.

Bon Appétit!