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Chinese Six Herbs Pork Rib Soup

Learn how to prepare Chinese six herb/six flavor soup (六味汤), also known as ching po leung (清补涼). Choose between pork ribs soup and dessert soup version.

Traditional Chinese soups rely on dried Chinese herbs. There are many Chinese soups where almost everything is made up of dried ingredients and only one type of meat is used like chicken or pork.

Take this 六味汤/lak bi theng/six herbs/six flavors soup for example, the soup is cook with pork and a set of six dried herbs. As you can imagine, as long as you have a stash of Chinese dried ingredients stashed in your pantry, you can very easily prepare a pot of delicious Chinese soup. ♥

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors soup.

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors soup.

Which Chinese dried ingredients do I need to prepare 六味汤/six flavors soup?

There is a set of Chinese herbs that make up a typical six flavors soup. You will need:

  • Chinese yam (怀(淮)山 - huai shan), if you are familiar with Japanese nagaimo, this is basically the dried version of the same yam.
  • lotus seed (莲子 - lian zi)
  • lily bulb (百合 - bai he)
  • fox nut (芡实 - qian shi)
  • Solomon’s seal rhizome (玉竹 - yu zhu), and
  • dried longan (桂圓/龙眼 - gui yuan/long yan)

Optional add-on ingredients

Aside from the stated six ingredients above, some people love adding even more ingredients to create their own signature herbal mix. If you wish, you can add some of the followings into your soup:

  • job’s tear barley (薏米/薏仁 - yi mi/yi ren), also known as hato mugi in Japanese.
  • apricot kernels (南北杏 - nan bei xing), 南/south is the sweet version, and 北/north is the bitter version. I prefer the south version.
  • ginkgo nuts (白果 - bai guo)
  • goji berries (枸杞 - gou qi)
  • red dates/jujubes (红枣 - hong zao)
  • honey dates (蜜枣 - mi zao)
  • ginger slices

How to prepare the dried ingredients?

Prior to using most Chinese dried ingredients, it is best if you can wash each of the ingredients separately to remove dirt, and then soak each ingredient in separate bowls.

I usually soak the ingredients the night before I plan to cook the soup, but if you forget to do so, even a one hour soak is much better than no soaking time.

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Six herbs soup (六味汤) = ching po leung (清补涼)

Recently I paid a visit to my neighborhood Chinese grocery store. It is a rather big store and its Chinese herb section is rather complete. As I was trying to replenish my supplies for this soup, I spotted a prepackaged soup called 清补涼- ching po leung, which has almost exactly the same ingredients as my Mom’s typical six herbs soup!

The package is rather small, and it comes with everything I use in my six flavors soup except for dried longan. Instead of dried longan, it has job’s tear barley. When I reached home, I did a bit of research and found out that indeed, ching po leung is another name for six herbs/flavors soup.

So, if you don’t plan to prepare this soup often, or if it’s too much of a hassle to hunt down individual ingredients for this soup, feel free to buy the prepackaged version. You can even buy prepackaged ching po leung soup online.

Ready to be cooked 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Ready to be cooked 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Sweet version: Six herbs sweet soup (六味糖水)

You can make the sweet version of 六味汤. Basically you will use the exact same set of six dried ingredients, plus your choice of sweeteners (e.g. rock sugar), and any add-ons that you wish. Here is how to do it:

  1. Use the same amount of dried igredients and water as per this recipe.
  2. Boil water and dried ingredients, then cover the pot and simmer until everything is soft and tender. About 2 hours.
  3. Add rock sugar, or other sweetener of your choice. I usually use 100 gram or rock sugar, but do add as much as you need.

The sweet version of this soup can be served hot, at room temperature, or even cold. So this is a nice dessert soup to make year round.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Other Chinese soups you may want to try

If you love classic Chinese soups like this, you may want to try some of my recipes on traditional Chinese soups.

If you prefer Chinese sweet/dessert soups, you may want to try some of these instead:

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Chinese Six Herbs Pork Rib Soup

5.0 from 8 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 2 hours 30 mins

Total Time: 2 hours 45 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • Chinese dried ingredients
  • 4 pieces (20 gram) Chinese yam (Chinese: 怀(淮)山 - huai shan)
  • 4 tablespoon (35 gram) lotus seeds (Chinese: 莲子 - lian zi)
  • 4 tablespoon (25 gram) lily bulbs (Chinese: 百合 - bai he)
  • 4 tablespoon (40 gram) fox nuts (Chinese: 芡实 - qian shi)
  • 4 tablespoon (15 gram) Solomon seal rhizome (Chinese: 玉竹 - yu zhu)
  • 4 tablespoon (30 gram) dried longan (Chinese: 桂圓/龙眼 - gui yuan/long yan)
  • Option 1: Six herbs pork ribs soup (savory version)
  • 450 gram (1 lb.) pork ribs, cut into bite sizes
  • 1 1/2 liter (6 cup) water
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • Option 2: Six herbs sweet soup (sweet/dessert version)
  • 1 1/2 liter (6 cup) water
  • 75-100 gram rock sugar, or to taste


  1. Rinse and drain all the dried herbs to remove dust and dirt. Soak each ingredient in separate bowls for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  2. Option 1 (savory soup): Boil a pot of water and blanch pork ribs for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the pork ribs with cold running water. This step is optional, but if you do this, your soup will have a clear broth.
  3. Place all ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, with the lid on. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
  4. Option 2 (sweet soup): Boil together all the dried ingredients and water. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, with the lid on.
  5. Once the dried ingredients are soft and tender to your liking, add rock sugar and stir until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat. The sweet soup version can be served hot, at room temperature, or chilled.
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Indonesian Kitchen


  • Dedy@Dentist Chef Dedy@Dentist Chef says:

    Since it's called six herbs, could i use another herbs like jujube, wolfberry or red dates instead the herbs above??? or it alrealy fixed within those herbs???

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Dedy, the soup needs to use the 6 herbs in the recipe to qualify as a lak bi theng (six herbs soup). Cheers :)

  • Helen Helen says:

    Instead of rock sugar you can use dried dates or plums

    • Anita Anita says:

      Certainly, Helen. Dried dates are sweet, so it is possible to skip the sugar if the sweetness is already to your liking.

  • emily emily says:

    Hi, I am very interested to try this but having difficulties trying to get the ingredients. Are there any online stores in US that you would recommend? I live in midwest, so there's no close chinatown that I can go.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Emily, I usually buy the individual ingredients from a Chinese supermarket. But you can buy the prepackaged version from Amazon if that's the easiest. Or pay a visit to your Chinese market and see if they have it. The prepackaged version is usually called ching po leung (清补涼).

  • Lily Cheam Lily Cheam says:

    Can I boil dried wai shan with rice and black beans? Then puree, add sugar and chill. Can it be served as cold dessert?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hm... I have never tried pairing wai shain with rice aand black beans, but it sounds doable and should turn out into a pretty nice porridge. Sure, you can serve this dessert cold :)

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    This sounds super comforting. Definitely one to make at the weekend.

  • Danielle Wolter Danielle Wolter says:

    Sounds delicious! Love that you can buy the soup ingredients online because I imagine they would be very hard to find in the grocery store.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Indeed. It is super helpful that now it is so much easier to buy prepackaged herbs like this online. It used to be that I need to make a special trip to Chinatown and buy nothing but herbs. :D

  • veena Azmanov veena Azmanov says:

    Something unique and something different. This soup is surely a Chines speciality. Have to definitely check this recipe out. Hope I get all the ingredients too.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Veena, if you have easy access to a Chinese market, definitely better to select the herbs personally. If that is too much of a hassle, I also have a link to buy the prepackaged herbs online from Amazon. :)

  • Jo Jo says:

    Such a deliciously sounding and authentic soup! Love the clear broth and all the garnishes too.

    • Anita Anita says:

      To get the clear broth requires one additional step, but I think it is so worth it in the end. :)

  • Deanne Deanne says:

    I love all the herbs in this pork rib soup! This would be a great way to mix up our dinner routine!

  • A A says:

    For these optional herbs, can you suggest the amounts in grams? Thanks!

    • Anita Anita says:

      If you want to add everything, you can try 1 tablespoon job’s tear barley, 1 tablespoon apricot kernels, 1/4 cup ginkgo nuts, 1 tablespoon goji berries, and 6-8 red dates/jujubes, 1 honey date, and about 1" ginger cut into thin slices.

  • Agnes Goodchild Agnes Goodchild says:

    We just had it yesterday as a dinner. Very satisfying even though it is 'just' a soup. Has some diuretic and body-heat cooling effect ( my experience). My question is how frequently can you eat it, as actually it is a herb soup? Or you can eat it daily if you want?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Agnes, I think this soup is not herbal heavy compared to say, Chinese chicken herbal soup. Personally, I don't worry when serving this for my family for several days in a row. :)

  • Milky Milky says:

    I bought a pre-made 5 oz, packet of the ching po leung herbs and just used this recipe to guide the rest of the cooking process. I didn't do the math to adjust the servings, but I also don't have a specific memory of this soup to try and replicate anyway. I added a few dates and some goji berries since I had them on hand. It was tasty, and the meat was so tender on the ribs. I really love medicinal foods, so I hope I can collect some of the ingredients on their own to get a stronger brew :P

  • Christiaan Christiaan says:

    Hi, why do you soak each ingredient separately?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Christiaan, you can soak all the dried ingredients in one bowl. I soaked them separately to make it easier for my readers to identify each ingredient. :)

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