Silky Black Skinned Chicken Soup

Nationality: Chinese/Vietnamese
Primary Language: English
Other language(s): Mandarin, Cheo Chow (Chinese Dialect)
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: LA, California
Performance Date: 3/12/2024


My informant, AC, is a friend of mine from my freshman year at USC from Los Angeles, California. I talked with her about food one day in second semester freshman year after getting some soup for myself while out at lunch. On that topic of food, we touched on soup, as this is what I was planning to eat. As we discussed soup at this point, all different types of it, she mentioned that at home, she would have this chicken soup with the skin of the cooked chicken still in it, but the skin was burnt black. I questioned her further about this and she said it was a natural homemade remedy and all around good soup that was apparently, as discussed with her parents, supposed to cure her asthma and other illnesses, as a sort of magic.


“So basically, this soup would help me feel better whenever I was sick or whenever I had asthma attacks or problems. I could never figure it out, but whenever I had it, my sicknesses would just seemingly disappear the next day. And with asthma, if I ever had wheezed or anything worse, I would have this soup and then my breathing issues would just dissipate. But, I don’t know how it works, though I know it does. Again, it’s pretty strange, magical almost.”


Well I did a bunch of research on this topic and ended up finding out that black skin chicken soup, also known as Black Bone Soup, is a popular Chinese dish which is said to have exceptional medicinal properties. Based on my research, apparently, dark meat of black chicken breeds like the Kadaknath or cooked black skin chicken provides a rich source of carnosine, which is a protein-building compound that has antioxidant properties. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this black chicken soup recipe tonifies (balances, stabilizes, or unblocks) qi (chi)/energy in the body. It is also believed to strengthen the liver and kidneys, nourish the blood, and improve immunity and overall energy. So, in turn black chicken soup can indeed somewhat help stabilize breathing issues due to asthma and act as an aid to sickness symptoms. Apparently, black chicken has been known since the 7th century, and it is believed that eating these chickens, known in China as gu chi, ‘chicken with black bones,’ has a beneficial effect on human health. This has been a recurring theme in Chinese culture for centuries, and based on multiple human health articles I’ve read so far, its benefits are seemingly scientifically accurate. It’s extremely interesting for me to see this form of folk medicine and near magic to be used and be historically proven to work as well. I’ve dealt with my fair share of folk medicine personally, but this one, not only have I never heard of it, it blows my mind to see how beneficial it is in the field of science when dealing with its positive effects on the human immune system.