I have fond memories of my mother in the kitchen making herbal soup for the family. She would make soup a few times a week. The type of soup would change with the seasons or with the ailments affecting the family. Coming home and getting off the elevator, I would be greeted by the wonderful smells of soups that were being made, not just by my family but our neighbors as well. The ingredients were fresh and the soup would simmer in a clay pot for hours, carefully watched by my mother.
It wasn't just vegetables or meat that would go into the soup but herbs as well. Herbs that were used in traditional chinese medicine, tested for thousands of years and passed on from one generation to the next. My paternal grandmother was illiterate but she had a recipe for every ailment, which she remembered by heart. Need something for a winter cough or dry skin, she had it. Need something to increase a babies appetite or help with lactation, she had that too.
The tonics would only work if the herbs were of good quality. So when I started to make soups for myself I asked around for a supplier I could trust. Sure enough a colleague's mom had gone to a place in Chinatown for years. One look at the herbs by my mom and it met her approval. I keep a host of herbs in my pantry like the ones shown in the picture. I have items to nourish the appetite (my kids), to lower cholesterol (my husband), to ward off heat (myself) and to improve health (whole family). I hope to pass on this knowledge to my kids.