One of the pleasures of winter is enjoying warming food and on the top of my list is homemade soup – it is easy to make, relatively quick and can double as a hearty dinner and leftovers make a good lunch.
All cultures have some type of soup within their cuisine – the variations are numerous and the possibility for creation limitless. Macrobiotic cooking sees soups as strengthening the body’s fluids as well as balancing for meat-centered diets. This is because the water of the soup helps to dilute and predigest proteins and fats in meat.
Soups can be adapted to the season by changing the texture and cooking method. Hearty winter soups are rich, creamy and thick – cooked longer to generate heat in the colder months. Summer broths are the opposite – light, cooling and cooked quickly.
Soups are fortifying and are good for people who are convalescing – offering easily absorbable nutrients. Also, medicinal vegetables and herbs can be added to help restore health.
The physiology of warming foods When warming foods are eaten, the energy and blood are directed up to the surface of the body. The hottest foods, such as cayenne peppers, cause an extreme heat reaction, while warming foods such as ginger, oats, parsnips, butter and anchovies provide more enduring warmth.
- Plants that take longer to grow (carrot, parsnip and cabbage) are more warming than those that grow quickly (lettuce, radish and cucumber)
- Chemically fertilized plant foods, which are stimulated to grow quickly, are often more cooling. This includes most commercial fruits and vegetables
- Raw food is more cooling than cooked food
- Food eaten cold is more cooling
- Foods that are red, orange or yellow is more warming
- Chewing food more thoroughly creates warmth. Digestion of carbohydrates already starts in the mouth. It is very important to chew your food properly for good health – between 20 – 30 times a mouthful.
The successful formula to making soups There are four soup recipes in our Recipe section, but it is important to remember that soups can be created from anything (nearly) and offers the perfect platform to play in the kitchen using up every scratch of leftovers. Even when the cupboards are bare you can often find something to make into soup. Just follow these easy steps:
Flavour – Onion and garlic sauté – a good place to start
Choose your main ingredient(s) – Vegetables (Pumpkin, Broccoli, Carrot, Parsnip, Leek), Grains, Beans etc.
Place ingredients in a pot adding water (or stock) – amount dependent on how watery you want it. I love to use homemade Chicken stock for extra flavor.
Decide if you want the soup chunky or smooth – use handhold blender if you decide to make it smooth.
Tip – allow it to cool just a little so not to melt blender!
If you need to make it thicker – pureed vegetables will make it thicker, but you can also use flours, arrowroot, oatmeal, amaranth, chia seeds
Season – choose from miso, sea salt, seaweeds, ginger, herbs,
Garnish – choose from spring onions, parsley, toasted nuts, croutons, sprouts, crunchy seed mix
“If it came from a plant eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t” (Michael Pollan, Food Rules)