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A delicious bowl of my Happy Soup.

Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushroom, Ginger Root “Happy Soup”: Recipe To Build Qi, The Immune System, And Improve Digestion

Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed the delicious, tangy taste of various Asian soups. One of them included baby bok choy, mushrooms, and ginger. I’ve made many soups in the past, but, for whatever reason, I’ve only ventured into making this one when I saw the recipe on MindBodyGreen.

Frankly, I was rather nervous to cook it. Because, even though I’ve cooked numerous yummy dishes in the past, I’d never cooked this particular soup before. This Chinese-inspired dish also harkened to my part-Chinese ancestry. Surely, if I messed up on this commonly made dish, my ancestors would be rolling in their graves!

But, I made it nonetheless, curious to see what would happen (and, also a part of me wanted to dispel my apprehension and release my fears.)

And, wouldn’t you know it, it was absolutely delicious! I think it’s become my favorite soup, in fact. A loved one, who’d shared this virginal batch of bok choy soup, remarked, “This is a happy soup. It makes me happy.” Indeed, I was happy eating it, too!

So, let me share the makings of the “Happy Soup” with you.

Here are some major health benefits of some of the simple ingredients:

Bok choy (Chinese cabbage):

  • IMG_3082A staple in Chinese cooking, this cruciferous vegetable has vitamins C, A, and K, and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron.
  • A single cup of bok choy contains the entire RDA of beta carotene, which has been shown to prevent night blindness and possibly reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration, makes it highly recommended by the Macular Degeneration Association.
  • It helps recovery of breast cancer survivors. Science Daily states, “A study by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention investigators reveals that breast cancer survivors who eat more cruciferous vegetables may have improved survival… Commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in China include turnips, Chinese cabbage/bok choy and greens, while broccoli and Brussels sprouts are the more commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in the United States and other Western countries.”
  • In Chinese Medicine, bok choy is used to quench thirst, relieve constipation, improve digestive health, and treat diabetes. It is also considered to be a cooling food that helps cool off those of us with heat signs (such as red or flushed face and lips, desire for cold drinks, red tongue, and may even include constipation, dryness, or irritability.)

Rice noodles (rice sticks/vermicelli noodles):

  • The great thing about rice noodles is that they are gluten-free, which is a great benefit to those of us who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease.

Shiitake mushrooms (Dong Gu in Chinese):

  • Beneficial to the stomach.
  • According to Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, by Paul Pitchford, “[It is] said to be a natural source of interferon, a protein which appears to induce an autoimmune response against cancer and viral diseases. Used in the treatment of cancer, especially cancers of the stomach and cervix.” (p. 542)
  • Decreases both fat and cholesterol in the blood, as well as helps discharge the excess residues of accumulated animal protein.
  • They are a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhances immunity.
  • In Chinese Medicine, it helps remedy upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and boosts Qi/life energy.

Garlic (Da Suan in Chinese):

  • The benefits are numerous! But among them, garlic is powerful against infectious diseases like colds and flu. You can find my recipe on making a garlic honey elixir here.
  • It is also a potent antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agent.
  • Medical News Today states, “According to the National Library of Medicine, part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), USA, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension. Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.”
  • May be effective against drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Reduces risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Helps normalize your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Protects against cancer, including brain, lung, and prostate cancer.
  • Reduces risk of osteoarthritis.

Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang in Chinese):

  • Boosts the immune system, helps us combat oncoming colds, and relieves congestion.
  • Strongly relieves nausea and vomiting. In a study published in the 2007 issue of the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, researchers found ginger to be more effective than vitamin B-6 in relieving nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.
  • Ginger root has a very high level of antioxidants, higher than many berries, which makes it an excellent defender against cell damage and associated disease caused by free radicals.
  • Is anti-inflammatory. It has been reported to be effective at reducing pain and swelling in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis and general muscle discomfort.
  • In Chinese Medicine, its warm nature warms the lungs and stops coughing, warms and heals the digestive tract (to help with nausea and indigestion), builds the Wei Qi (the defensive Qi that helps us combat oncoming colds), and can even help reduce toxicity of food poisoning, especially from shellfish.

Sun dried tomatoes:

  • Very high in fiber and Vitamin C.
  • It is also abundant in Vitamin K, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Lemon juice:

  • Has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and is used as a weight loss aid because it is a digestive aid and liver cleanser.
  • It clears toxins, which is why I often recommend drinking warm lemon water in the morning to help flush out toxins.
  • It is alkalizing for the body, which restores balance to your body’s pH.
  • Helps neutralize free radicals, which are linked to aging and most types of disease.
  • It contains citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene.
  • It helps heal acne, oily skin, and can be used in natural cleansers for the face and body.

Red pepper flakes:

  • Are an excellent source of beta-carotene.
  • Red peppers are a good source for capsaicin – a natural inflammation fighter.
  • It may also prevent colds by boosting immunity due to its high vitamin A content.


Because I absolutely love soup, I doubled this recipe when preparing and cooking it, and loosely followed the instructions. I’ve made some notes of my preferred ingredients in the recipe, below.

This recipe was adapted from, “Soup In 15 Minutes: Bok Choy, Ginger & Shiitake (Vegan & Gluten Free)”.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 lb. of baby bok choy, washed and separated (cut any large leaves in half vertically) (the grocery was all out of baby bok choy, so I got 2 large bok choy bunches, and cute them in half, horizontally and vertically)
  • 4 ounces of vermicelli rice noodles (1 large package seemed to work perfectly)
  • 3 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I used a whole package)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped (I put in 4 cloves to up the immune boosting capabilities, and because I love garlic!)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped (I used 2 medium sized nodes)
  • 4 slices of sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth (I like the Better Than Bouillon vegetable stock)
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon (I used bottled organic lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (I used a blend of extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, the coconut oil is sourced from the Philippines and benefits local farmers)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Season with salt and pepper



  1. Place a large (12 – 14″) deep sauté pan over medium/high heat.
  2. Add oil and heat until hot but not smoking.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes, or just until they begin to color.
  4. Add bok choy and cook just until they begin to wilt.
  5. Add chopped garlic, ginger and pepper flakes and cook until the garlic begins to color (a minute or less).
  6. Add the broth, the lemon and the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes more until fragrant and the broth begins to bubble.
  7. Add the rice noodles and cook until soft but still a bit firm.
  8. Season and serve.



Do you have a favorite Happy Soup?
If so, feel free to share your recipes in the comments, below!

Happy souping,







Copyright © 2014 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.


  1. Jonah Ewell L.Ac
    April 8, 2014

    Reblogged this on Kang Dao Acupuncture Health Center and commented:
    Take a look at this delicious soup my colleague Margarita Alcantara made. She explains the medicinal value of the ingredients as well. I may try this one…

  2. Allya Moore
    April 13, 2016

    This soup sounds delicious! I just made a veggie soup with all but the bok choy. I almost grabbed some but had enough greens with green cabbage, cilantro parsley and fresh basil. Any ideas on what to use for a reiki soup using all of chakra colors? I cannot think of the pink and blue, but figured purple cabbage will work for my next batch!
    Thanks, Allya (pronounced uh-leah)

    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      April 13, 2016

      Hi Allya,

      The green cabbage, cilantro, parsley, and fresh basil sound delicious! For a chakra soup, you could include foods that run the gamut of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (or white)! The possibilities are endless. Purple cabbage sounds like a great start. If you are a Reiki practitioner, a true Reiki soup would get “Reiki-ed” for full impact!



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