soups for baby and me

Growing up in a cantonese family,
clear chinese homecooked soups are a daily staple and not just something that I crave during this pregnancy but also I find it helps alleviate some of my discomforts and helps me get the nutrients I need.
During pregnancy, it’s strongly advised against consuming anything too potent, too heaty or cooling, especially in the first trimester. throughout this whole pregnancy, I’ve avoided taking any soups with more extreme herbal additives such as ginseng or dang sheng or du zhong, but keep with simple ingredients. Most of the time, we make soups like lotus root, or ABC soup , or chicken and mushroom, but on days I really want something a little more “herbal”, here’s a recipe I’d like to share with you.
One is the six combination soup (Lok Mei Soup/ Liu Wei Tang) another is a family tradition my dad made for my mom during her pregnancy, chicken essence.


Lok Mei Soup
This soup has namely 6 neutral herbs that help nourish and moisturize the body, especially the throat and lungs and warms the body without having a heaty effect.
Personally, I found this very appetising especially when I don’t feel like eating or can’t stomach much food.

4 pieces of dried chinese yam (huai shan)
20 pieces yok chok (solomon’s seal rhizome)
20g lotus seed
20g dried longans
20g fox nuts (qian shi)
20g lily bulbs
8 cups water
230g lean pork ribs
salt to taste

1. Rinse and soak dry ingredients for 15 mins.
2. Add pork ribs to boiling water for 15 mins and skim off the scum
3. Drain the herbs
4. Add drained herbs into the boiling water, and when it comes back to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 2-2 1/2 hours.
5. Add salt to taste after about 2 hours
6. Serve warm


Chicken Essence
In Asian cultures, drinking chicken essence has been a traditional remedy and tonic for fatigue and building up strength and immunity. My dad started this family tradition when my mom was pregnant, as they were working 24/7 15-16 hours a day standing up cutting hair, and often no time to eat regular meals. And because we are a family of firm believers of homecooked food and for me, I’d gag at the smell and taste of certain bottled chicken essence, my dad passed on this tradition to Roy.
And it’s good for the daddies-to-be to show us mummies with some love and care.
Chicken essence is highly beneficial because of its concentrated amount of protein, amino acids and peptides, all crucial in energy boosting and building blocks of cells, muscles and tissues. Which helps baby’s growth and repairing mummy’s tired bodies and stretched out skins.
It also helps in lactation!
A study by the World Health Organization did a study with post delivery mummies and found that chicken essence helps promote early milk secretion and increase in milk production.
And I strongly believe that we are what we eat, consuming good nutrients not only gets passed onto our babies but also a reflection of how we feel and our outlook physically.

This soup is prepared without water!
Yeaps! you heard me right, it’s purely from the bones and the meat of the chicken and 1 kampong chicken produces about 1 small bowl of chicken essence.

1 whole chicken
1 huge pot
1 steaming wire plate placed at the bottom of the pot
1 metal dish/plate placed on top of the wire plate
1 huge rice bowl placed upside down on top of the metal dish

1. Smash/flatten    the whole chicken to release the essence
such that chicken is flat and fanned out
2. Place the flatten fanned out chicken onto the rice bowl
3. cover the lid of the pot for 3 hours
4. Once ready, let it cool for about 10 mins before removing lid
5. Remove chicken from the rice bowl and gently lift the rice bowl, the pressure will cause the chicken essence soup to splash out
6. Skim fat and oil off
7. Salt to taste if necessary

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  1. Hi cheryl! Thanks for the recipe! But I don’t quite understand it haha.

    Can i check with you if there is another step between 3 and 4? Like am i suppose to steam over big fire or something?

    For step 5, where is the essence supposed to splash out from?

    Grateful if you have time to reply! Congrats on your pregnancy!

    1. hello Jenn 🙂 pardon me if I wasn’t so clear in the instructions, nope there’s no extra steps but boil it over medium heat and let the essence slowly drip into the bowl.
      in the pics with the chicken on top of the white bowl and on top of the metal dish, the essence will drip into the metal dish underneath the white bowl, hence after you remove the chicken, slowly remove the white bowl because of the pressure you wouldn’t want the water to splash all over and also cos the white bowl will be hot. hope this helps and give it shot 🙂 have a lovely week ahead and thank you!!

    1. I started drinking chicken essence around the second trimester about 1-2 times a week and now in the third trimester about 2-3 times a week. I’ve consulted a few people about frequency of chicken essence and all said that 3-4 times a week is ok too and no hard and fast rule since these are food. as for the other soups I drink like lok mei soup or ABC soup or lotus, I drink Cantonese soups almost everyday and sometimes at lunch and dinner, and you can drink it as often as long as it’s homemade. As the sodium content served outside might be too much.

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