The name literally translates as "meat bone tea", and, at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours.
Treating a cold or fever with soup is an ancient and time honored tradition. If nothing else, a bowl of soup, lovingly prepared, can make us think we feel better - even if it doesn't really help cure our illness. However, in addition to its ability to comfort, the Chinese believe certain soups have healing powers.
A large part of Chinese medicine is based on the concept of yin (EMPRESS SOUP) and yang (CHINESE HERBAL/SPICES SOUP), the two forces that rule the universe. Depending on the context, yin (EMPRESS SOUP) refers to the feminine, darker, cooling forces, while yang (CHINESE HERBAL/SPICES SOUP) represents the masculine, lighter, hot forces. Although sometimes depicted as being in opposition, in reality they are meant to complement one another.
So what does a philosophical belief have to do with medicinal soups? The Chinese believe illness is a signal that the two forces are out of balance. For example, if you have a cold it is because there is too much yin (EMPRESS SOUP) in your body. A Chinese herbalist might prescribe a soup designed to restore the yang (CHINESE HERBAL/SPICES SOUP) forces. Similarly, a fever might be treated with a yin (EMPRESS SOUP) soup.
Over time, medical experts and herbalists have developed a classification system, in which foods are categorized as having either yin (EMPRESS SOUP) or yang (CHINESE HERBAL/SPICES SOUP) properties. Chinese Physicians often use of these classifications when deciding on a course of treatment. So, lets cook a pot of LIM WAH THAI good soup to your own good health.