Friday, December 16, 2011

Nourishing Warming Soup

As we move toward the Winter Solstice and a New Year, I am feeling a need to add as many healing and strengthening ingredients to our recipes. Cracking open my favorite books on Herbs, Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics ignites a spark of creativity as I find myself in my pantry gathering the ingredients for this Nourishing Soup! 

By making a Broth of Nettle Tea, Burdock, Dried Shitake Mushrooms and Wakame Seaweed we are supporting the organ pair associated with Winter which is Kidney/Bladder. 
In traditional Chinese medicine the element associated with winter is water, which has a floating energy. Water energy goes deep inside the earth; it is the root and basis of life. This is the time of hibernation and inward self-reflection, when the energy is still on the surface, yet active underneath. 
Winter is a time of conservation and storage. Because the kidney, along with the urinary bladder, is predominant in this season, winter is the time to build, conserve, and store kidney chi through rest and self-reflection. The time of day that the Urinary Bladder peaks is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and the Kidney from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. 
Foods with floating water energy go deep into the body and strengthen the kidney, urinary bladder, and reproductive organs. 
The most beneficial foods for this time of year are burdock, buckwheat, black soybeans, and black sesame seeds. Dried foods, like Shitake Mushroom, also contain concentrated energy to build inner strength. 
The taste associated with winter and the water element is Salty. Winter cooking includes warming soups, more oil, rich bean dishes and sea vegetables which are all strengthening to the kidney.

4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms Soaked (save soaking water) 
3 Tbl Finely sliced Burdock Root
1 Onion diced
1 Clove Garlic minced
2 Stalks Celery diced
1 Carrot diced
1 Cup of Cabbage minced
3 Tbl Dried Nettle Leaf Tea 
2 Strips of Wakame Seaweed
1 tsp peeled and grated Ginger 
4 tsp White Miso diluted in 2 Tbl water
7 Cups Filtered or Spring Water (includes Shitake soaking water)
4 Scallions Sliced on a Diagonal 

Shiitake Mushrooms provide high levels of protein (18%), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and are used nutritionally to fight viruses, lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Lentinan, an immunostimulant derived from shiitakes, has been used to treat cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, and other conditions with impressive results.
Burdock Root is a great source of many non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage...etc that help act as good laxative. In addition, inulin acts as prebiotic helps reduce blood sugar level, weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Burdock root contains a good amounts of electrolyte potassium (308 mg or 6.5% of daily required levels per 100 g root) and low in sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
It also contains some valuable minerals such as iron, manganese, magnesium; and small amounts of zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.

Mineral- and vitamin-rich Nettle is a naturally nutritious way to help maintain a healthy urinary tract and flush toxins from your system. It is said to uplift a weary body, reduce fatigue and also improve thyroid, kidney and bladder functions. Nettle is also considered an age-old remedy for allergies and respiratory problems, as well as an old-time women's herb that helps to regulate menses and stimulate lactation in nursing mothers.

Wakame Seaweed is a good source of Vitamin A, C, E and K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and supports healthy Thyroid function.

 In a sauce pan bring Water, Shitake, Burdock, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Carrot, Cabbage and Wakame to a boil
Turn down and simmer covered for 15 minutes
Add Nettle Tea to the pot and simmer an additional 10 minutes
Pour through fine mesh strainer
Set aside Shitake Mushrooms and remove stems
Place Saucepan with Broth, Wakame and Shitake on burner and bring up to a simmer
Turn off, add  grated Ginger and Miso
Place a Shitake in each serving bowls and add Broth
Garnish with Scallions 

Share this Nourishing Warming Soup with family and friends and "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" to quote Hippocrates!