Ching Po Leung (清補涼), also known as Qing Bu Liang, is commonly served in cantonese or southern Chinese cuisine. Ching means "to clear or cleanse", bo means "to tonify and put nutrients back into the body", and leung means "to cool" in the Cantonese dialect. The herbal ingredients in this wholesome and nutritious soup all combine to nourish the body's blood and other essential fluids to promote good health. Operating also as cleansing and cooling tonic, this herbal combination is perfect for the upcoming hot season and is a long-time staple within the Chinese household during long summer months.
The versatility and ease of incorporating this herbal decoction into everyday Chinese cooking is what makes it largely popular. In fact, so popular that the combined herbs are widely available in most Asian markets and come prepacked. You will find that some prepackaged soup mixes will vary in ingredients, with fewer or added ingredients. For what we are most familiar with, Ching Po Leung will often have this combination of herbs that are the essence of the soup:
- fox nut/euryale seed (qiàn shí, 芡实)
- chinese yam (huái shān, 淮山 or shān yào, 山药)
- dried lotus seeds (lián zǐ, 莲子)
- chinese pearl barley (dà mài, 大麦 or yì mǐ, 薏米 or yì rén, 薏仁)
- polygonatum odoratum (yù zhú, 玉竹)
dried longan (guì yuán ròu, 桂圆肉)
- dried goji berries (gōu qǐ, 枸杞)
- chinese candied dates (dà mìzǎo, 大蜜枣)
Soup Recipe Instructions
The herbs being the most important ingredients to the soup, we'll also be needing:
- Salt to taste
- 1 to 1-1/2 lbs of pork bones
- 3 or 4 slices of fresh ginger
- 3 quarts of cold water
Like many other Cantonese soups out there, Ching Po Leung is cooked with pork bone, giving it its clean taste and rich broth. Before cooking the pork bone, we'll need to make sure we rid of the excess impurities and blood in the pork bones by soaking them in cold water for an hour. This helps to keep the soup looking and tasting clear afterwards. Rinse the pork bones well and drain.
Combine pork bones, cold water, ginger, and all herbs together in a large pot. Turn on high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the fire and let the soup simmer for 3 hours. Along the way, if you spot any excess skum or fat forming at the top layer of the soup or migrating to the sides, use a spoon or soup net to scoop and skim the impurities. Remove from fire and salt to your taste.
Along with the nutrients extracted from the pork bone and dried herbs simmering for long hours, you can also enjoy the the tender meat on the pork bone, which is equally delicious and extremely fragrant. While some may consume only the soup stock, the dried herbs are completely edible. Eating them will only add to your health benefit!
If you're vegetarian, it's best to go for the cold version of Ching Po Leung. Instead, you could make a Ching Po Leung gruel/congee by adding rock sugar to taste. It would make a delicious summer treat!
Add 3 quarts of water and herbs to a slow cooker. Cover and allow to cook overnight, then add granulated sugar to taste when finished. If you'd like for a more rich yet delicious sweetness to it, add in black/red sugar, rock sugar, or slab sugar overnight to allow it to meld in with the congee and herbs. Over stove top, add in herbs and bring to a bowl. Let simmer for 2-2.5 hours. Throw in sweetner of your choice when about done.