Chicken Soup with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Chicken soup doesn’t need to take hours to make. This is a simple, light chicken soup that is richly flavored with shiitake mushrooms, and brightened with fresh ginger and soy sauce.

The stock is very light, and comes just from the cooking of the ingredients for less than half an hour. But the combination of the ginger, chicken, mushrooms, soy sauce and a touch of salt and sugar is just lovely, and I highly recommend trying this soup.

Chicken Soup Ginger Shiitake

The recipe is an adaptation of one I discovered in a most curious cookbook, The Cultural Revolution Cookbook by Sasha Gong and Scott Seligman.

One doesn’t usually think of this rather painful period of Chinese history, when millions of Chinese urban youth, children of “intellectuals,” were forced into the countryside to work as farmers, for its culinary legacy. But during this period, people learned to make do, and to create nourishing, satisfying food from simple, local ingredients.

The original recipe, upon which this one is based, is for “Steamed Ginger and Mushroom Chicken”. The recipe required a bamboo steamer and wok, neither of which we had, so we decided to make our own version. Same ingredients, somewhat different method.

After the heaviness of holiday food, this one is especially refreshing. Enjoy!

Chicken Soup with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4

Typically for this recipe one would use bone-in chicken thighs hacked into big pieces with a cleaver, or with poultry shears. The bones help create flavor and richness for the stock. You can use boneless chicken thighs if you prefer. Or use bone-in, and then remove the bones after the chicken has cooked, before serving.


  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (dried is much preferable to fresh in this recipe)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, preferably bone-in, cut into chunks
  • A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch


1 Soak dried mushrooms: Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 20 minutes. Use a bowl or a smaller pot to keep the mushrooms submerged in the water.

2 Marinate chicken: While the mushrooms are soaking, mix the soy, sugar, salt and corn starch in a large bowl. Make sure there are no corn starch lumps. Add the chicken and ginger to the bowl, toss to coat with the marinade, and set aside.

3 Slice mushrooms, add to chicken: When the mushrooms have softened, remove from the water (saving the soaking liquid) and slice thin. Add the mushrooms into the bowl with the chicken. If the soaking water has grit in it, pour the soaking water though a fine-meshed sieve lined with a paper towel into another bowl.

4 Cook chicken, mushrooms with mushroom soaking water: Put the chicken mushroom mixture, and the mushroom soaking liquid into a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, cover the pot and cook gently for 25 minutes. Serve hot.

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Adapted from "Steamed Ginger and Mushroom Chicken" in The Cultural Revolution Cookbook by Sasha Gong and Scott Seligman.


Cream of Mushroom Soup here on Simply Recipes

Healthy Chinese Chicken Soup - from Steamy Kitchen

Sichuan Style Chicken Noodle Soup - from Appetite for China

The Cultural Revolution Cookbook website

Wikipedia on the Cultural Revolution

Showing 4 of 34 Comments

  • AE

    I made this the first time for my boyfriend when he got sick last week since it has good-4-u ginger, shittake, and bone broth in it. Now, he kindly passed his illness to me and I’m making it again but for myself. Lol. So good and easy but this time, I had to buy fresh shittake since they stopped carrying dried. Hoping I can get a good result! We will see!

  • Rogue

    My wife’s top favorite soup, she asks me to make it quite often. Thank you!!

  • spaceman spiff

    Try adding 2tsp of fish sauce. adds to it. put raw fine diced celery in at the end so still crunchy.

  • Jane

    Excellent recipe. My family did it a bit differently. We first cooked the chicken (with water) in a pressure cooker. After it was done, we added shiitake mushroom, fish sauce, sugar and salt and brought to a boil. The cooking time was reduced in half.

  • Jeroen de Haan

    Easy and lovely! Just added a pinch of pepper to spice it up a bit. Good tip from Pille to add some scallions, I missed some green in it.

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