Chicken Soup with Pearl Barleys and Ginkgo Seeds

When the weather gets cold, I am always automatically set to soup mode.  And my kitchen is always filled with aroma from all kinds of soups.  I cannot go through long cold Michigan winter without a bowl of hot soup, just like we cannot tolerate the whole summer without ice cream.   How boring would life be without these seasonal delights!

I bought an organic free range hen from Chinese grocery store, and I intend to make a pot of good chicken soup with it.


1 organic free range hen
1 piece of ginger, crushed
12 ginkgo seeds
1/4 cup pearl barleys
10 lotus seeds
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste


Rinse the hen and dice it into 2 by 2 inches pieces.  Soak them in a large pot of cold water for 30 to 60 minutes.  Change the water twice in between.  Drain well. 

Add diced hen, ginger and rice cooking wine to a medium cast iron pot.  Add enough water to the pot, about 3 to 4 inches above the chicken.

Heat over high heat; when the soup boils, keep it boiling over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes.  Use a spoon to get rid of any impurities coming to the top.

Cover with lid; reduce the heat to simmer for 1 hour.

Add lotus seeds, pearl barleys and ginkgo seeds, and crank up the heat to medium high.  When the soup boils again, reduce to simmer for another hour or so. 

10 minutes before serve the soup, add sugar, white ground pepper and salt to taste.  Boil the soup over medium high for 10 minutes.

Serve immediately. 

It is like liquid gold on top the chicken soup.  All the aroma and fragrance come from that thin layer of golden chicken fat. That tells you this is a pot of good chicken soup.  And it is exactly the chicken soup I had when I was growing up in southern China.