When I would get sick or have a cough as a kid, my mom would make this lightly sweet snow fungus soup for me to drink. I never questioned it (because it tasted good), but as an adult, I learned about the reason this soup is so popular for coughs or respiratory sickness:
Almost every ingredient in this snow fungus soup is believed to be beneficial and nourishing for the lungs!
Ingredients like snow fungus, lotus seeds, lily bulbs, Chinese almonds, and goji berries are all packed with nutrition, making this not only a delicious dessert soup, but an incredibly nutritious one.
The recipe below is a basic recipe for my mom's snow fungus dessert soup! There are several variations out there that can include other ingredients like papaya, jujubes (which we sometimes add), and dried longan.
What is snow fungus?
Snow fungus, also known as white fungus (or snow ear, white wood ear, and white jelly mushroom among other names), is an edible mushroom that's commonly used in traditional Chinese cuisine and medicine for its believed anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-aging health benefits.
It has a translucent, off-white color, and has a jelly-like texture. Judging by its looks, it seems like an organism that should be underwater and has a similar texture to some types of seaweed!
Snow fungus has a neutral taste. It doesn't taste like much but has its distinct gelatinous texture. The most common way I've eaten it growing up is in a dessert soup like today's recipe!
What ingredients do you need to make snow fungus soup?
These are the ingredients you need to make this version of snow fungus soup with pears:
dried snow fungus (aka white fungus)
The most essential ingredient for this soup! These are most commonly found dried, and in the dried goods aisle of an Asian supermarket (near where you find other Chinese dried ingredients and herbs). They look like a dried sponge or loofah, and when rehydrated, can grow to 3-4 times its size!
Asian pears are bigger and rounder than the typical Bartlett pear you'd find at an American supermarket. They're juicy, have a crisp texture, and add a subtle sweetness to this soup.
dried lotus seeds
Dried lotus seeds, the same ones we use to make homemade lotus paste for mooncakes, are often used in Chinese soups! They're typically sold dried, and need to be rehydrated in water before using. Once rehydrated, the sprout in the middle of the seed needs to be removed, as it can taste bitter.
dried lily bulbs
Often used in conjunction with dried lotus seeds, dried lily bulbs are also often used in soups in our household. They look like dried white petals, and are found in the same dried goods aisle in an Asian grocery store.
Chinese dried north and south almonds (aka apricot kernels)
These two types of Chinese almonds, north and south, are essential for this soup. They look identical, so use the packaging labels to identify which they are!
The north almonds are bitter, and it's crucial that only several pieces are used in the recipe as they can be mildly toxic when consumed in larger amounts.
The south almonds are sweet, rich in protein, plant fat, and nourishment for the lungs, and contain no toxicity, so they're used in larger amounts. According to my mom and how these are commonly used in Chinese cuisine and medicine, both are needed to get the combined health benefits!
dried goji berries
These add color, sweetness, and nutrition to this soup. You can also find these in the dried good aisle of an Asian supermarket, though they've become more popular in mainstream grocery stores and can sometimes be found there as well!
yellow rock sugar
Because this is a dessert soup, we'll need sugar. Yellow rock sugar's mild, honey-like sweetness is less sweet when compared to white sugar, and is the preferred sugar my family uses for this soup. If you're substituting white sugar in this recipe, make sure to use less and taste as you go!
These are the ingredients to make a pretty basic snow fungus soup, but there are many variations and some that include more ingredients! Some others are papaya, jujubes, and dried longan.
You may also like these other soups:
If you enjoyed this snow fungus soup recipe...
I'd be so grateful if you left me a review below!
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Snow Fungus Soup (with Pears)
- 1 Asian pear
- 1 oz dried snow fungus aka white fungus
- ⅓ cup dried lotus seed
- ⅓ cup dried lily bulbs
- 1 tablespoon dried south almonds aka apricot kernel
- 5 pieces dried north almonds aka apricot kernel
- 1-2 tablespoon dried goji berry
- 3-4 oz rock sugar (sub with less white sugar)
- 8 cups water
Prepare the ingredients
- Rinse the dried lotus seeds, dried lily bulbs, dried south almonds, and dried north almonds (be sure to look at the measurements for each of the almonds!). Add them all into a bowl with 1 cup of hot water. Cover and let rehydrate for about an hour or until lotus seeds are easily split apart.⅓ cup dried lotus seed, ⅓ cup dried lily bulbs, 1 tablespoon dried south almonds, 5 pieces dried north almonds
- In a separate, large bowl, add the dried snow fungus and submerge in cold or room temp water to rehydrate. This should only take 5 minutes. Once rehydrated, drain the water.1 oz dried snow fungus
- On the underside of the snow fungus, there’s a tough, round end. Carefully use a scissor to cut around and remove this part, as it’s inedible.
- With your hands or a knife, split the snow fungus into smaller, bite-sized pieces, about the size of a broccoli floret.
- Once the lotus seed is mostly rehydrated, it should be easy to split. Split all the seeds in half and remove any sprouts you find in the middle, as these can be bitter. Make sure to keep the water that the seeds were rehydrating in, we’ll use it for the soup!
- Peel the Asian pear. Cut out the tough middle core, then slice into 1 inch chunks.1 Asian pear
Make the soup
- To a large soup pot, add the rehydrated lotus seeds, lily bulbs, north and south almonds, and the water they were rehydrating in. Add the chunks of Asian pear.
- Add 8 cups of water to the pot. Bring everything up to a boil.8 cups water
- Once it’s boiling, lower it to a simmer, then cover and let simmer for about 45 mins. You don’t need to simmer it this long, but my mom prefers to to extract out the flavors more. As long as the lotus seeds, lily bulbs, and almonds are softened enough to eat, you can move onto the next step!
- If a lot of water was lost during cooking, you can add more water to the pot.
- Lastly, add the snow fungus, goji berries, and sugar to taste. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes and it’s ready to enjoy! We also love to eat this soup cold, so it’s great as leftovers.1-2 tablespoon dried goji berry, 3-4 oz rock sugar