Autumn is officially here, and as we prepare for Winter and much unknown with this latest virus, it is so important we continue to nurture our bodies in line with the season.
If you haven’t already, it is time to move away from the summer salads, smoothies and juices and focus on nourishing and warming dishes which include loads of cooked vegetables in casseroles and soups.
Autumn is also a period of dryness, so if you are experiencing any dry skin or a bit of dry cough, adding foods that are moistening like soy products, apple, barley, seaweed, honey, pork and eggs are a good start, as well as cooking with a bit of butter and salt to draw moisture and nutrients in.
Here are couple of my favourite soup recipes to help nourish the body for the season and help with immunity.
Autumn Barley Soup
This Autumn soup is amazing, without a doubt one of my favourites; but unfortunately, I don’t get to eat it, I can only make it for others because barley has gluten in it! So, step away from this recipe if you have intolerance's like me, I do still sneak a few mouthfuls in because I can’t resist!
Barley is great for tonifying our Earth element organs (Spleen/Stomach), as well as the Kidney. With its sweet and cool nature, it helps to drain damp and tonify the middle jiao (digestive system) and is useful as we transition out of Late Summer (Earth element), where humidity and damp is prevalent, to Autumn (Metal element) where dryness begins to set in.
Celery, with its sweet, bitter and cold nature can calm the Liver, it also drains damp, clears heat and transforms phlegm, whilst tonifying the Kidneys and strengthen the Spleen/Stomach.
If you have a weak digestive system, this soup is perfect, it is gentle to the stomach and has warming and moistening ingredients that are easy to digest, providing so much nourishing energy. It can increase urination as it is drains the damp and clears any toxicity from the body.
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
½ to 1cm slice of ginger, chopped (to your taste)
4 carrots, diced
3-4 stalks of celery, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 litres water
1 cup pearled barley
1 teaspoon sea salt or 1 tablespoon natto miso
Parsley & Pepper
In a large soup pot or slow cooker, sauté the onions, ginger, garlic in the butter, then add carrot and celery and cook off for about 3-5 minutes. Add the barley and then add water and the salt and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for at least an 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until barley is soft and somewhat fluffy. Add parsley and pepper to taste and enjoy!
Immune Builder and Cold Buster
This soup is perfect if you feel any kind of niggle of a cold coming on or if you have been pushing a little too hard and start to feel those run down feels like a tight throat, glands swelling or a heavy chest.
This soup is loaded with ginger, garlic and spring onions which help warm the body, open the pores and clear the pathogen from the body, alongside a vegetable broth that is loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory's and vital minerals found in the vegetables, herbs and spices which tonify the qi and keep the body at optimal to fight disease.
We have grown up hearing that lemon is recommended with honey as a drink to help a cold or flu. But according to Chinese Medicine citrus locks the pathogen into the body. We encourage you to drink either a soup broth like this or to add ginger and spring onions to hot water which will open the pores and warm the body to release any nasty pathogens. You can come back to the lemon and honey warm drinks to restore your body after the initial stages of the cold is over, which will help to replenish fluids and harmonise the stomach and aid digestion.
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3-4cm chunk of ginger, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of butter
½ cup shitake mushrooms, diced
4 sticks of celery, chunks
2 carrots, chunks
1 zucchini, chunks
4-6 cauliflower florets, chopped
4-6 broccoli florets, chopped
1 tablespoon of sea salt
2.5-3 litres of water
Choose either Basil, Thyme or Oregano (for flavour and immunity)
Add whatever vegetables you like if you don’t have the above on hand, root vegetables are preferable, but I have often included kale/spinach, yellow squash, pumpkin and sweet potato.
For those who are meat eaters, adding either chicken carcasses, 4 chicken thighs with the bone or a whole chicken chopped including the bones is great for the qi and blood.
Bamboo also helps clear phlegm and heat and regulate the Lung, Liver and Gallbladder, but is very cooling, so only use if there is heat in the body that needs to be cleared.
Dice and prepare all vegetables. In a large soup pot or slow cooker, sauté the onions, ginger, garlic in the butter, then add carrot and celery and cook off for about 3-5 minutes. Add the rest of your chopped vegetables except for spinach/kale (if using) and spring onions. Add water and the salt and bring to the boil, before reducing the heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for 1 ½ -2hours, stirring occasionally. Add chopped spring onions, kale and spinach along with your preferred herbs and pepper to taste at the end and enjoy!
Note: If including chicken, you will need to dice and prepare the chicken, cook it off for a few minutes to seal, before adding the vegetables. Cooking will require a minimum 4hrs to 12hrs, so vegetables like cauliflower/broccoli are best to add in the last 1-2hrs. You will need to remove all the bones and break up the chicken to place back in at the end, plus skim the fat and scum from the top during and at the end when cooled.