Dec 152011

[photo - moisturizing asian pear herbal soup with dried figs]

As we are in the midst of the dry cold season, I was reminded of a delicious moisturizing soup that my family enjoys during this time of year.  This soup, made with ya li Asian pears, dried figs, and a few simple Chinese herbs, is a gentle nourishing tonic that moistens the lungs and skin from the inside out.

And if you have a dry cough or dry throat, this soup is especially suitable for you.  That is because this soup uses several Chinese herbs that work synergistically to moisturize.  Namely, the dried lily bulb, yu zhu, and lady bell (adenophora) root.  These herbs moisturize and have a slight cooling effect to balance the 燥火 (dry fire or yang) energy according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.  This recipe, along with many others on this site, exemplifies the way in which the Cantonese have utilized Chinese Food Therapy for thousands of years to create a harmonious balanced energy in the inner body to maintain good health.

[photo-moisturizing asian ya li pear herbal soup with dried figs]

Moisturizing Asian Pear Herbal Soup with Dried Figs

A vegetarian version of this soup can be made also by simply omitting the pork from the recipe.  In place of the meat, you can add more figs and even honey to sweeten the soup.  If you choose to use honey, add it at the end after the soup has been cooked so you can preserve more of the nutrients in the honey.
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Recipe: Moisturizing Asian Pears Herbal Soup with Dried Figs
Recipe type: Soup, Herbal Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
This is a moisturizing soup that nourishes the lungs and relieves dry coughs and dry throat. It is a perfect drink for the cold or hot summer seasons. A vegetarian version of this soup can also be made by omitting the pork from this recipe. Use instead 1 or 2 more dried figs, and/or add honey after cooking to sweeten this soup.
  1. Boil a small pot of water to blanch the meat. In the meanwhile, cut the pork to 2 inch chunks. When the water boils, add the pork in. Blanch, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a separate large clay pot**, boil 10 cups of water.
  3. Rinse and soak all ingredients for 5 minutes except for the pears, dried figs, and Chinese yam. Cut the softened white fungus to ½ inch pieces.
  4. When the soup water boils, add the blanched pork and all ingredients except for the pears. Cover and cook on high heat until the liquid bubbles. Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash, core, and cut the pears to quarters.

    After the 30 minutes, add the pear quarters in. Cover and simmer for another 2 hours. When done, turn off the heat, season with salt (or honey if making vegetarian version) as desired. Serve hot.
* Ya Li Pear is the variety traditionally used with this soup. If you cannot find this pear, other types of Asian pears can be used although the sweetness and flavor may be slightly different. ** Always use clay or stoneware to cook herbs. Metal will react with some herbs.


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  13 Responses to “Moisturizing Asian Pears Herbal Soup with Dried Figs”

  1. This is beautiful! I love Asian pears and the broth sounds so soothing (and yes, my throat is still sore!). I need to get myself to the Asian market and look for these ingredients. :)

  2. It looks very soothing for someone having a scratchy throat. I like the fruity ingredients that you have like pears and dried figs. Thank you, Sharon! :)

  3. I’ve never had Asian pear in soup – it must be such a subtle flavor. Sounds delicious and healthy.

  4. Especially dry skin this time of year! Though not here…too warm here. Those pears look so beautiful!

  5. This lovely soup looks like the perfect remedy for the cold and dryness of winter! It sounds very tasty too, with the pears, figs, and ginger.

  6. Yup, this is very soothing for dry throat and cough.. have made this soup a few times.. but what about chesty cough? staying in tropical countries always tend to get chesty cough, mine has been on and off for 3 weeks now..

  7. I am so happy to discover your blog! The Chinese soup theme is an extraordinary idea! This soup looks very unusual and more exotic than any Chinese dish I have ever seen.
    It reminds me how much I love white mushrooms and strangely never buy them. Thank you for visiting my blog and giving me the opportunity to discover yours!

  8. Your Chinese herbs look so fresh and lovely. Even here in HK it is difficult to find good herbs even in the proper Chinese medicine stores that have not been affected by the dampness. This sounds like the perfect soup for the sore throat with the cooling pears and the balance of the heat of the ginger. Sounds lovely. Take Care

  9. I’m not sure I could find all the ingredients around here, but it is definitely an inviting and beautiful soup!

  10. Hi Liz, some of the herbal ingredients may be a little hard to find unless you live in California or NY. But I am glad that I could at least expose people to this long soup tradition in the Chinese culture. Maybe over time, more of these herbs can be more widely available. Amazon sells some, but not a lot of selections to choose from still.

  11. What an incredibly wonderful soup! I would love to try a vegetarian version of this…beautiful!

  12. Happy New Year!!!
    What a magnificent soup!

  13. oh I love your blog! I have started to be interested in Asian soups :)

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