Recipe: Chinese Restorative Blood Nourishing Stew

Astragalus membranaceus--??/??

Astragalus membranaceus–??/?? (Photo credit: jennyhsu47)

This nutrient rich restorative stew comes from the tradition of making therapeutic medicinal soups and stews with Chinese Tonic herbs. This stew is particularly rich in blood building herbs and foods. Included are Astragalus (Huang Qi) a potent Qi or Vitality Tonic traditionally used in many anti cancer formulas. Huang Qi  (Astragalus root) promotes the production of White Blood Cells, part of the army of the immune system and is known as a Qi (Vitality) Tonic.  Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) is a rich root traditionally used to nourish blood. Dang Gui is found in many women’s formulas, but is not for the exclusive use of women by any means. The combination of Huang Qi and Dang Gui form a traditional Chinese Herbal Formula called Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang. (Dang Gui Tonify Blood Decoction) This stew is good for the depletion associated with blood loss due to with heavy bleeding or surgery or damage to the bone marrow as in chemotherapy side effects leading to low levels of blood cells. The addition of Shitake Mushrooms rich in polysaccarides increases the immune modulating benefits.

Although this is traditionally prepared with meat, a vegetarian option is also offered.


4 Tablespoons organic olive oil or walnut oil
1 small onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 pound organic hormone free grass fed lamb, beef or bison
(Vegetarian Alternative; Omit the meat and use 2 cups of cooked blood nourishing legumes such as aduki beans, lentils, or black beans)
1 ounce or 30 grams of  dried Astragalus root  (or 2 teaspoons of Astragalus Root extract)
1/4 ounce (5-7 grams) dang gui root (or 1/2 teaspoon Dang Gui Root extract)
2 fresh (thinly sliced) or 4-6 dried shitake mushrooms (broken up into pieces)
1 1 inch piece fresh ginger root (with peel) sliced very thin
4 cups water or organic vegetable broth
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 pound dark leafy greens such as kale, chard, beet greens or spinach
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons gluten free traditional soy sauce or tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Chili oil or cayenne pepper to taste (optional)


Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive or walnut oil in a skillet, add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Transfer to a large soup pot
Add 2 more Tablespoons olive or walnut oil to the skillet, add lamb, beef  or bison, cook over medium high heat until lightly browned on all sides (about 5 minutes)
Skip this step if you are making a vegetarian stew. Instead, prepare 2 cups of  cooked lentils, black beans or aduki beans or use precooked organic beans (preferably in cartons, not in cans which are typically lined with BPA, a chemical associated with toxicity)
Place the astragalus root, dang gui and giner in a piece of cheese cloth and tie loosely (dental floss works well for this) into a bag for easy removal.  (I usually just throw all the herbs into the stew and fish them out later. Either method is fine)
Add the herbs to the stew pot with meat, onions and garlic.  Add the filtered water or organic vegetable broth and salt. Shitake Mushrooms. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down the heat to simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the parsley and leafy greens and simmer until lightly cooked (5 -15 minute only)
Remove the herbs.
Add soy sauce, tamari or Braggs Liquid Aminos
Add Chili Oil or Cayenne powder to taste if desired.
This Recipe is modified from Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing and Long Life, by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir, and Mika Ono