food 4 tots

Chicken and cordyceps militaris soup (虫草花煲鸡汤)



It was only in recent years that cordyceps militaris/ chong cao hua (虫草花), a Chinese medicinal herb became increasingly popular among Chinese traditional medicine practitioners, nutritionist, chef, and even homemakers. I was first introduced to it by my mother-in-law recently.


Translated literally into English, it means “worm grass flower”. But it is neither flower nor grass, nor does it resemble a worm. In fact, it is a cultured fungus and has similar medicinal value and chemical composition as cordyceps sinensis (冬虫夏草). However, it may not be of comparable strength to the latter. But then, you only need to pay a fraction of the price for cordyceps sinensis. This is indeed a good news to consumers who can’t afford the expensive cordyceps sinensis.


Cordyceps militaris are neutral in nature (平性) and suitable for everybody in general. It has anti-inflammation (抗炎症)and anti-aging (抗衰老) properties. Apart from that, it can bring relieve for insomnia, strengthen one’s lungs (保肺) and benefit the kidneys (益肾) (N1).




I did a google search and found this simple and healthy soup recipe which uses cordyceps militaris.  The recipe also includes “dang shen” (党参) which can help to reinforce qi (补中益气), invigorate and improve blood circulation (养血) (N2).


I had tried it out and found it to be very delicious. It has a delectable clear taste, with a slight tinge of ginseng feeling on one’s taste buds. But just like any clear-based Chinese chicken herbal soups, it is packed with natural sweetness. My mother-in-law experienced better quality sleeps after consuming it couple of times.


Since the H1N1 flu is still pervasive in the world, it would be great to get some natural immunity booster for the entire family. Thus, I strongly recommend this nutritious yet affordable soup to everyone.


If you want to know more about cordyceps militaris, read this article.

N1: Soups for expelling dampness and heat by Chiu Sang
N2: The World of Nourishing & Fine Soups by Kenny Chen


Adapted and modified: 百度知道

Serve: 4-5


1 whole chicken (about 1 kg) (I used free range chicken/ 甘榜鸡)
12g cordyceps militaris/ chong cao hua (虫草花)
5 sticks dang shen (党参)
2 tbsp wolfberries (杞子)
2 slices of ginger (姜)
12-15 red dates (红枣)
1200-1500 ml water (adjust accordingly)

Salt to taste


  1. Remove the chicken skin. Trim the excess fat. Wash and rinse the chicken. Cut into large chunks. Blanch over boiling water. Rinse again and set aside.
  2. Rinse dang shen and cut into 2 portions for each stick. Wash and rinse cordyceps militaris. Wash and removed seeds for red dates. Cut ginger into slices. Set aside.
  3. Bring water to a boil. Put all ingredients (except for wolfberries) into the pot and bring it to the boil again. Reduce to medium heat for 10 minutes. Then simmer for another 2 hours. Add wolfberries just 5 minutes before the end of the cooking.
  4. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and serve.



Weekend Herb BloggingI am submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging #196, which is housed by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and hosted this week by Anh of Food Lover’s Journey.

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  1. tigerfish says:

    Long time since I have seen codycerps in chicken soup. I guess there are too many ways to make chicken soup and people have forgotten this. Thanks for bringing it back!

  2. Little Inbox says:

    I never try this cordyceps militaris before. Another nutritious ingredient. 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    I’ve always heard that chicken soup has some sort of medicinal elements to it and perfect for when you’re sick.

    This recipe would have come in handy last week when my 3Y0 had a nasty bug, but I will hold onto it for next time. And as a mother of two, I know there will be a next time!

    • food-4tots says:

      Amy: The medicinal elements mainly come from the Chinese herbs and you can always replace chicken with pork. Chicken soup is not advisable for people with flu because it is greasy and may affect one’s digestive system. Yes, you can give it a try when your 3YO is fully recovered. 😉

  4. Wow, thanks for the info and recipe!!! Now I can make some for my daughter, she has a weak lung. A traditional herbal shop introduced the sinensis to me before and it will cost me a bomb to cook a bowl of this soup which I can’t afford. Glad that there is an alternative for it which is now affordable!!!!

  5. Ching says:

    Wow, I loved this! I didn’t know there is a cheaper version of cordyceps sinensis (冬虫夏草) out there. Hope I can find it here, if not will have to buy some when I go back to M’sia. As you know, I loved chicken herbal soup.

  6. This reminds me of home. My mum always cook this for me whenever I go back.

  7. cordyceps is good for pregnant woman, cuz, taking cordyceps is to build the infant’s lungs.

    • food-4tots says:

      NKOTB: I dun recommend cordyceps to pregnant woman because there are a lot of imitation Chinese herbs available in the market. It is better to seek advices from the gynae before consuming any Chinese herbs. Just my personal opinions. 😉

  8. cariso says:

    I like your soup recipe. Always attracted to it!

  9. Alice says:

    Mmmmm… delicious and nourishes soup! Do you know when can I find 虫草花 in M’sia? It is indeed a good source for the flu pandemic now. Thanks for sharing!

  10. mycookinghut says:

    You know what, my dad is familiar with Chinese medicine and this reminds me of the times when I helped him in the shop, chinese customers came in with a list of chinese herbs that they needed to make soup. My dad then would take all the ingredients, measured, and wrapped in a brown paper.. very much like olden days that we usually see in the movies!! hehehe.

    Anyway, this kind of soup is packed with good stuff which I have really missed! 🙁

  11. Your soup looks delicious! I’ll have to look for cordycep militaris; I’d love to try it.

  12. I love this soup, my friends are raving about this herbal soup! delicious!

  13. My gal loves cordyceps soup very much. I use the cordyceps all the time but have not try using cordyceps military. It is good to go with kampung chicken. Delicious! ^-^

    • food-4tots says:

      FoOd PaRaDiSe: You must have put a lot of “investments” in boiling nutritious soups for your gal. Cordyceps sinensi is really as expensive as “gold”! 😉

  14. noobcook says:

    I love your comforting and nourishing soup. Really boosts the immunity system and delicious as well!

  15. Dora says:

    Very nutritious! The 虫草花 look like 鱿鱼 strips. 😀

  16. Ellena says:

    Oh!!! I have read about this “虫草花” in soupbook but i have never see the real things in photot.. so when i saw your post i was so excited about it.. i will sure try out this recipe becos i am a soup feak! 🙂

  17. homeladychef says:

    Wow, so good! Now i can buy this and mix with normal 虫草 to drink to save money, hehe….

  18. Pam says:

    The soup looks wonderful. Excellent photos!

  19. delia says:

    My colleague gave me some of this herb when she came back from China and I’ve found your recipe just at the right moment. Cooked this soup last Monday and every one commented it’s very delicious. Not enough for my kids who are soup freaks!

  20. […] a common soup herbs. But my view changed when I chance upon a soup recipe from FOOD 4 TOTS called Chicken & Cordyceps Militaris Soup. Thank LK, for sharing this herbs and a wonder soup […]

  21. Julie says:

    Hi, I was looking for different ways of using cordyceps flowers and found your website. I usually make my soup with lean pork leg/shank and the cordyceps flowers – that is all. It’s allergy season again for us and when I make this soup for her, her allergies are basically gone and she can breath fine and does not have a plugged nose. By the way, great site, I will try some of your recipes as my little girl is a picky eater.

    • food-4tots says:

      Julie: Thanks for dropping by, generous sharing of using cordyceps militaris and also your wonderful comment. Hope my recipes suits your little girl’s palate. 😉

  22. Ranna says:

    Hi I will like to know if replace chicken with pork, will pork rib or lean pork be more suitable? Also at which stage do we add the gou qi?

    Thanks in advance!

    • food-4tots says:

      Ranna: Yes, you can replace with pork. As compared to lean pork, pork rib will make the soup tastier but more oily. Lean pork will be a healthier choice though. Add the wolfberries 5 minutes before the end of the cooking. Sorry that I had omitted this step in the recipe. Thanks for pointing out. 😉

      • Ranna says:

        Thank you so much for sharing! I will try out your soup recipe soon.

        I am very inspired by your blog and I highly recommend it to all my friends who are mommies. 😀

  23. Joymin says:

    Hi,I cooked this soup for dinner just now. Its a very tasty soup. Thanks for the recipe! My kids enjoyed it very much. I saw that the chicken turned orangy. Is it normal?

    • food-4tots says:

      Joymin: Thank you for your kind feedback and glad that your kids love it! The orange colour comes from cordyceps militaris. It should be fine if you bought them from a reliable shop. 🙂

  24. Joymin says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing the recipe! I cooked it for dinner just now. My 2 kids love it!! However, I saw that the chicken turned orangy. Is this normal?

  25. GinaTan says:

    Hi. I would love to try out this recipe. May I know what’s the purpose of putting the ginger? Is it okay to omit? If I add in the ginger, will the soup have the ginger taste?

    • food-4tots says:

      Gina Tan:From my personal understanding, ginger is used to remove the stench(去腥味). By adding a small piece of ginger will not affect much the taste of the soup. 🙂

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