This change of season soup is used as an immune system tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) during times of change or when you’re rundown. One of the best times to use this is immune booster is during those season changes where so many of us get sick  (winter to spring is a biggie with all the blustry wind and temperature fluctuations!). This herbal formula is also thought to improve resistance to colds and flu as well as help people adapt to stress and boost energy.

Those who are in the midst of a cold or flu should not drink the soup until after they have recovered, but it’s great for anyone wanting to prevent a cold or flu or who are just feeling a little run down and need that extra boost! I tend to have a pot of this simmering throughout the cold and flu seasons and find it to be a wonderful, nourishing addition to my daily routine.

The soup can have a slightly bitter taste on it’s own. To improve the taste, use it as a base for a hearty chicken soup made with a whole organic chicken and shiitake mushrooms, onions, leeks, carrots, yam, beets, turnip, kale and other local harvest vegetables.


To make change of season soup, you will need equal parts (2-3 oz each) of the following herbs. Chinese herbal shops sometimes sell the herbs pre-packaged for convenience or try the following suggestions:

You can use equal parts of each herb (eg. 4 sticks of herbs 1,2, and 3, and a large handful of goji berries)

1)Astragalus/Huang Qi – 4 sticks, 15 cm long. This herb is an adaptogen, helping the body to better manage stress. It also stimulates the immune system and it tonifies the body overall.

2) Codonopsis pilosula / Dang Shen– 3 sticks, 10 cm long This herb is important in tonifying Qi energy (according to TCM principles). It detoxifies blood. It increases blood and the production of other immunity-important fluids. It is an adoptogen, helping the body to better manage stress

3) Chinese wild yam (Dioscorea sinensis/Shan Yao) – 2 sticks, 5 cm long.This herb relaxes the smooth muscles along the digestive tract. It is also great for the liver and is anti-inflammatory.

4) Chinese wolfberries or Goji berries (Lyciium barbarum/Gou Qi Zi) – 3 tbsp.These berries strengthen the liver and the kidneys. They also work to improve the immune system.


1. Fill a large stock-pot with water. Add the above herbs to the pot and place the lid on. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 6 hours. If the water level boils down, add water to refill if necessary. To add extra ‘juice to this broth, simmer with organic chicken or beef bones to make a super charged bone broth.

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the herbs from the pot and allow the soup to cool. This recipe makes about 4 liters of soup.

If you’re making a more hearty soup

1. Sauté onions, leek, ginger and garlic on medium heat until soft

2. Add celery and carrot for a few minutes then add chicken and ample water including the Chinese herbs

3. Bring the water to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1.5 hours or until the chicken is cooked.  (If you are making the soup without chicken simmer for only 1 hour).

4. Remove the AstragalusCodonopsis and Chinese wild yam from the pot with a slotted spoon then add any other vegetables and spices you enjoy in soup and continue simmering for about 20-30 more minutes.

You can also make the herbal broth separately and add it to your soup in place of straight water.

I regularly make a big batch of the herbal blend with the bone broth or add it into a chicken soup and store it in the freezer, so any time I’m feeling slightly run down I can have it ready in a flash.

Bon appetite and I hope you enjoy a healthy season!