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.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.
- 2 ya li pears*
- 4 dried figs
- ½ bunch of lady bell (adenophora) roots (about 1.25 oz)
- 0.75 oz of yu zhu
- ⅓ cup of dried lily bulbs
- 1 white fungus, soaked overnight
- 4 slices of Chinese yam
- 1 flat tbsp each of bitter and sweet almond
- 1.5 lb of lean pork, marinated with some salt
- 2 slices of ginger
- 10 cups of water
- 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.
- In a separate large clay pot**, boil 10 cups of water.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.