This medicinal soup can give you an energizing lift and immunity boost. Ginseng has numerous health benefits and this soup is the “Korean penicillin”.


  • 4 cups (2 litres) boiling water

  • 10 packets (3 grams/0.1 ounces each) Korean red ginseng tea

  • 2 baby chickens (poussin) or Cornish hens, about 2 pounds each

  • 4 large cloves garlic

  • 3 jujube dates, or 15 gogi berries

  • 3 dried pieces of dried Korean red ginseng (optional)

  • 2 cooked chestnuts, peeled (optional)

  • 1 cup (200 grams) uncooked sweet rice

  • Garnish

  • 2 pinches of dried chili threads

  • Handful fresh pea shoots

  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

  • Sea salt or kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Note

  • You can use fresh ginseng in this soup - it is much cheaper and readily available opposed to steamed aged dried red ginseng. The process of steaming and aging creates new nutrients in the ginseng that are believed to prevent cancer and obesity.

  • Korean ginseng is also known as Panax ginseng, and renown throughout the world as being the most nutritious globally. It is of the highest quality and boasts the most saponins which makes it the healthiest of any ginseng grown in any other country.


  • 1.

    Brew the ginseng tea by mixing together the boiling water and the ginseng sachets until dissolved. Set aside.

  • 2.

    Rinse the chickens with cold water. Place two garlic cloves, one date, one piece of ginseng, a chestnut, and 2 tablespoons of rice into the cavity of each bird. Skewer each closed with a toothpick. 

  • 3.

    Place the remaining rice in a double layer piece of muslin or cheesecloth with of the remaining ginseng and date. Tie the cloth closed tightly but leave a little bit of extra space for the rice to expand. Place chickens and rice bag into a large wide heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with the tea, and top off with water to cover, if necessary. Bring to a boil over high heat. 

  • 4.

    Reduce the heat and simmer, occasionally skimming away any fat that comes to the surface, until cooked through, about 2 hours. When done the chickens should be very soft and fall apart easily when tugged at.

  • 5.

    Carefully transfer the chickens to two bowls and divide the broth between them. Top the chickens with chili threads, garnish with pea shoots, and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Drizzle with sesame oil.

  • 6.

    Unwrap the rice package in a separate bowl and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, if you like. Serve with salt and pepper on the side.

  • Note:

  • 1.

    Find and save the wishbone when eating this soup and make your soup extra magical by making a wish!


Copyright, 2014, Judy Joo, All rights reserved

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