Six Combination Soup (Lok Mei Soup) – 六味汤 liu wei tang

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As the weather continues to cool down, I find myself cooking soup almost everyday. It is wonderful to start a meal with a sip of soup as it warms up the body and whets the appetite. These soups are usually clear meat broths to go with our rice based meals. Vegetables like lotus root and herbs may be added for a range of flavors. They are very easy to prepare requiring few ingredients and little prep work.

Chinese herbal soups are simple with clarity of flavors and low oil content. Nothing is ever fried. They are usually simmered very gently or double-boiled. The gentle cooking produces a clear and nutritious broth. Often, only the broth is consumed and the solid ingredients discarded. I like to eat the ingredients dipped in a little soy sauce.

This Six Combination Soup popularly known as “lok mei thong” or “luck bee th’ng” has six Chinese dried herbs in it. The combination of herbs may vary slightly and sometimes one or two more herbs are added. When I was growing up, Mom often cook this soup. The herbs can be easily purchased at the Chinese herbal shops in the neighborhood. I enjoyed going to the “medicine” shop with mom. I love to sit on the high stool at the long huge counter watching the “Ah Pek” slicing, weighing, and packing those strange looking roots and herbs. It was fascinating to watch him weigh the herbs with his tiny Chinese weighing scales. Those are now antiques and have been replaced by electronic scales.

Now, a little bit about the herbs. Wei san or Chinese yam are chalk white slivers of root believed to be an effective tonic for the kidneys and lungs. Solomon’s seal rhizome or yok chok are slivers of yellowish root with moisturizing properties excellent for alleviating throat and lung ailments. Lotus seeds are the hard, cream colored seeds that are used in a variety of sweet dishes. Lily bulbs are the scales of the bulbs of the tiger lily flower. They are cream colored and look like flower petals. Fox nuts are the hard brown seeds that look like barley grains. They boil open into little “popcorns”. Dried longans are prized for their warming properties.

4 pieces Chinese yam, wei san 淮山 (huai shan)
20 pieces Solomon’s seal rhizome, yok chok 玉竹 (yu zhu)
¼ cup (20g) lotus seeds 莲子(lian zi )
¼ cup (20g) lily bulbs 百合 (bai he)
¼ cup (20g) fox nuts 芡实 (qian shi)
¼ cup (20g) dried longan 龙眼肉(long yan rou)

Six Combination Soup (Lok Mei Soup) – Liu Wei Tang
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 4 pieces Chinese yam, wei san (huai shan)
  • 20 pieces Solomon’s seal rhizome, yok chok (yu zhu)
  • ¼ cup (20g) lotus seeds (lian zi )
  • ¼ cup (20g) lily bulbs (bai he)
  • ¼ cup (20g) fox nuts (qian shi)
  • ¼ cup (20g) dried longan (long yan rou)
  • 8 oz (225g) lean pork ribs, cut into pieces
  • 6 cups (1500 ml) water
  • Salt
  1. Rinse and soak dried herbs for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Bring water to a boil. Add pork ribs and allow it to boil gently over medium heat for 15 minutes. Skim off scum rising to the surface. Add drained herbs. When it comes back up to a boil, add salt. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting so that soup will simmer very gently for 1½ to 2 hours. A gentle simmer will produce a clear soup.
  3. Turn off heat and serve warm.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8-)

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31 Responses

  1. This is so interesting, where do you get your Chinese herbs now living in the US? I am curious about how they taste. Funny I made a soup today…still hot here but it was raining today.

    • Biren says:

      I can buy these herbs individually at the regular Chinese grocery store I go to. This store carries a lot more Chinese herbs because they are Chinese and not Vietnamese.

      This soup is just a little sweet in a good way. Children have no problems drinking this soup as it is not too medicial.

  2. Mom would definitely approve – would have to go to one of those herbalists…hmm….

  3. tigerfish says:

    Yes…more soups for the cooler days and nights. But temperatures here are still hovering at the 80s…:O

  4. Patty says:

    Hi Biren!
    Good to see you posting such an interesting soup using Chinese herbs! I’m feeling healthy just reading about it and looking at the pictures;-) Today is soup day for me too but nothing too interesting, just hopefully delicious;-)

  5. mmm…had this soup before..a healthy and nutritious tonic.

  6. Please don’t tell my mother in law. Our last visit in Taiwan, my MIL gave me a pack of Chinese herbs that I can recognize similar ingredients in your list. She taught me how, but I was so lazy to make it…and it’s been sitting in my fridge since November. Are they still okay? It’s almost a year…. She didn’t have “recipe” and I just don’t know how to cook without precise instruction. =P

    • Biren says:

      Dried Chinese herbs stored in the fridge can last for quite a while. I think yours should be fine. Herbal soups are pretty easy to prepare. The one thing it does require is some TLC in the simmering. :)

  7. anncoo says:

    My family loves this soup as it is very healthy and nutritious even suitable for hot weather :)

    • Biren says:

      This soup is good for most weather. I like to cook herbal soups here in the winter as it’s warming properties help keep the chill away. :)

  8. I also love love love soup. This is beautiful! I always want to buy ingredients like this when I am home in New York in Chinatown but have never known what to do with them. Now I do!

    • Biren says:

      I hope you can find some Chinese herbs where you live and try out some herbal soups. Do check back as I hope to post a few more herbal recipes.

  9. DongXing says:

    I love this soup but no one else does in my family – my kids love it when my mother makes it but they say mine somehow taste different… such annoying tastebuds! When I do make it, my husband would say I am making “witches brew”…ha ha ha. This kind of soup is perfect for autumnal evenings, I like mine with a bowl of warm rice….

    • Biren says:

      This soup is so simple yet delicious! It is hard to predict what children will and will not eat. I am fortunate my boys will try most things.

  10. Glad you are able to find all these Chinese herbs in where you live now. Eventhough i can easily buy these, but i seldom cook herbs soup as kids don’t really appreciate herbs soup. Yours look simple and nice.

    • Biren says:

      Yes, I am glad too as I do love herbal soups. The Chinese herbs I can find here are limited and so I do stock up when I go visit my parents.

  11. wok with ray says:

    Hi Biren! I’ve heard of this soup before but I’ve never tried it. We have a large Chinese supermarket here in LA, I should be able to find the herbs easily. Thanks, Biren!

  12. Pam says:

    Soup is wonderful and this sounds great! Perfect for these chilly days now.

  13. What beautiful ingredients! I can just imagine how delightfully aromatic this must be….wonderful :)

  14. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Always love yo drop i here for some very authentic recipes from you, Biren! Love all your creations.

  15. Jay says:

    wow…lipsmacking gooooooood..:P
    Tasty Appetite

  16. Adora's Box says:

    I love clear broths and have them as often as I can. I love Chinese herbal soups. I like the taste as well as the benefits they give to the body. My mom-in-law taught me a few simple ones and i cook them whenever I can. Your soup looks so comforting and it would be lovely to have now that the weather has changed.

  17. Everything in that soup sounds new to me (except for the pork ribs)…but I must say that it looks so filling and comforting!

  18. Lyn says:

    One of my fave soup and I’d eat the ingredients too! Esp Huai Shan, I just love it same as my elder gal. ;)
    Have a great week! :D

  19. A delicious and comforting soup, Biren. Love the step-by-step directions for someone like me, who has never made this!
    Thanks for sharing:DDD

  20. Peggy says:

    I know this is late, but I just found your blog and very glad that I did! I love all your recipes and plan on making them very soon. I’m interested in knowing what type of pot I should cook the soup in? My husband is Chinese and I would love to make these healthy soups to be incorporated to our diet. I love how you give us the names of the herbs and what they are. My in laws also make soup but its hard to get recipes from them because of the language barrier. Do you think I can make these soups in a slow cooker? I remember going to Hong Kong and saw a family member have a huge soup making device… And soup was served before a meal and after! Oh my-! ;) thank you again for a great blog!

    • Biren says:

      Welcome Peggy! I am glad you found my blog and love the recipes. :) I have simplified many of the recipes here so that they can be easily prepared by anyone who wants a tasty and healthy home cooked meal.

      You can use any kind of pot for this soup. A clay pot would be ideal but as you can see in the pictures above, I made this in a stainless steel pot. You can most definitely use a slow cooker. Chinese herbal soups cooked in a slow cooker yield clear soup because of the slow cooking. I use the slow cooker when I am not in a hurry. :)

      Please do visit again soon. I hope to post more herbal soups as the weather cools down.

  21. Nadiah says:

    Hi i am wondering of this soup is high in mom adds lean chicken into the soup.i love this soup.

  1. October 10, 2011

    […] shelves for specialty ingredients. In my last trip there I was able to get Chinese herbs for the Six Combination Soup. Always a joy to find ingredients to prepare some of dishes I miss from the old country. This time […]

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