Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vegetable Soup with Garlic & Ginger

Hello Lovely Readers! 

How is your week going? Did you get to read yesterday's post? I haven't tried Jon and Katey's wonderful chai yet, but Laura said she will be sending me some soon and I can't wait. Tomorrow we will do a Gray Duck Chai giveaway so one of you lucky readers can enjoy the medicinal qualities and wonderful taste yourselves! Be sure to check back. 


Aren't these purple carrots gorgeous? I bought them from Crystal Farms
at Morning Side Farmer's Market in Atlanta.
As for today, I wanted to go along with our spice theme of this week and post a recipe. It's hard to believe I haven't posted a recipe since my Perfect Hard Boiled Egg recipe, and you can hardly even call it a recipe! This recipe, however, is very dear to my heart and I think you will love it also. First off-- a little personal background to this wonderful soup. I first started making soups when I first got married. Towards the end of the week we always tended to have leftover vegetables and/or meat leftover from other recipes or random ones I would pick up at the farmer's market. I would have a random bunch of carrots, pieces of celery, and maybe half of a cauliflower. I never wanted to waste them, as I've already mentioned a few times how much I dislike doing that. I never knew what to do with the leftover produce and it was going to be a few days until I went to the grocery again so I needed to come up with an extra meal. One day I decided to make a soup with it all. I could just throw everything in the pot, a little herbs, and a little broth and a warm, flavorful soup was the result. I have become known for these soups in a way as they're one of the first things I bring to others when I bring someone a meal. It's comforting and also contains so many vitamins and minerals that make you feel better all around. I always get inquisitions for the recipe. However, I never use a recipe-- as the recipe is mainly to use whatever you have on hand. So it's been difficult to nail down measurements for others. I think the main point of this "recipe" is all about comfort-- comfort in the process of making it and comfort in the process of eating it. When my grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia, my homemade soups were one of the only things that he would eat.
His appetite was sparse as the days went on especially; yet, he would rarely decline a bowl of my soup. I became very creative with how I could add the most amount of nutrition, vitamins, and minerals to each pot knowing that was one of the only things he would consume. This became a very comforting ritual for me as I would construct the soup with loving care. This also was a comforting meal for my family to have during that time of the roller coaster ride of leukemia. Anyone who has been through it knows that leukemia tends to bring with it a lot of "surprise" hospital visits and subsequent colds and fevers and sudden new illnesses all of the sudden and all at once. Our emotions tended to go on their own roller coaster ride. Each day was something different and new and unexpected and this pot of soup always simmering on the stove (with interchanging vegetables and spices) was a constant, one of the only constants, and became a comfort to us all. It was a source of nourishment in a time when it's just easy not to eat at all. Friends got to benefit from the meal as well. I would just ladle out a warm bowl full for  any visitors that came by during the day to hug my family and see my grandfather. No one seemed to mind the added spices and herbs and in fact enjoyed how flavorful this made the soup. I initially used added spices such as fresh ginger and fresh turmeric for the antiviral properties found in both of these and how good they are for respiratory conditions, but everyone quickly became entranced by the newness of flavors and vibrancy in seemingly mundane dishes as well.  Let's be honest-- a little bit of added vitamins and nutrition didn't hurt any of us as it was good for our physical health which contributes to our mental health! I've learned that every caretaker has to take care of themself to be able to care for others.  I will definitely write more about "life with leukemia" at some point on this blog (not that our experience was that lavish or extensive ) but for now I would love to share with you the main recipe I associate with the comforting moments of that journey and of our life in general these days. Whenever a friend is going through a difficult time, I always like to make a big pot of this as well and take it over. You can interchange the vegetables as you wish depending on your body's needs or to your taste.  This is meant for no stress and using whatever you have. You can't mess this up. This is one of those recipes to make when you don't want to be stressed out with measurements or recipes or meticulous details and you just need a warm bowl of comfort. You don't even have to follow it to a tee, and you will still be blessed with a wonderful meal. Happy soup making! 

My Vegetable Soup with Spices and Herbs~ Medicinal for Physical and Mental Health 

Step 1: Start by chopping up all of your vegetables. I dice them all to bite size shapes ( the garlic and ginger I do a rough mince) and place them in a bowl. The only ones I keep separate would be the garlic, ginger, and any leafy greens like kale or spinach (because those cook faster). / Use whatever vegetables you have. As you can see below I used purple carrots, because of the added antioxidants they have. Celery, carrots, and onions are always my base vegetables, but I interchange the other vegetables I use with whatever I have or whatever I'm treating. For example, any red vegetables (red cabbage, black radishes, & beets) are good for anything going on with the blood. So when my grandfather had leukemia, I always added in one of those "good for the blood" vegetables since his body was struggling with it's  blood. As a rule-- yellow vegetables are good for anything urinary and kidney related. Green vegetables give calcium are good for immunity and health. Purple are full of antioxidants. Dr. Shumway was actually the one who educated me about colors that coordinate with health benefits. / I also always, always use garlic (between 6-9 cloves) since it's a natural "antibiotic" and the source of a lot of the soup's flavor.  /

Step 2: I next make a little herb sachet with any herbs that I have on hand. I happened to have some thyme, sage, and a little oregano on hand today. I tie it up with my organic baker’s twine and then I set that aside. (As you will see, I like to chop all of my vegetables first and get all of my ingredients ready before I begin the cooking process. I find it makes for a more seamless and ultimately less stressful time of cooking. ) 


Step 3: Next, I heat a soup pot over Medium heat and add coconut oil and olive oil. I would say I use about 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 1/4 cup of olive oil, depending on how many vegetables I use for the soup. Oil is a crucial ingredient to the soup in my opinion. I like how it creates a nice base for flavor, and there are also many health benefits to coconut oil and olive oil.

Step 4: After a few minutes and the oil is heated a bit, I add in all of the chopped vegetables (minus any leafy greens, garlic, and herbs). I add about 1 1/2 tsp of salt. Then I either add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes as well. Depending on your heat tolerance I would start with using 1/4 tsp. of one of these and then you can add more as you construct the soup. / As Laura wrote about Monday, both cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes have insane health benefits. I also love the added flavor as well. /  After a minute or two I add in the garlic and ginger. Let the vegetables and seasoning sauté for about another 3 or 4 minutes. You just want to establish a good foundation of flavor to build off of but you don’t want the vegetables to get soft by any means.  



Step 5: At this point in the process I ladle in some of homemade chicken bone broth. I will post the recipe for that soon as it's very economical and flavorful. I happened to be simmering some broth on the stove for over 24 hours when I was making this soup, so I just ladled some of the broth straight into the soup pot. I ladle a spoonful at a time until the broth covers the vegetables and you can reach your desired consistency for soup. I usually like the ratio of liquid to vegetables to be greater, as I like there to be a lot of broth in my soups. Keep ladling to your preference. / I don't always have bone broth simmering on my stove, but I usually have some from another batch stored in my freezer that I will use in soups. Another Tip: If I am simmering my broth at the same time I am making soup, I just ladle my broth into my soup and then I add water back to the broth pot. This makes more broth that I can keep simmering away making more for me to have to add to my freezer. / 



Step 6: Bring the vegetables and broth to a boil. Once everything is to a boil turn down to simmer. Before you cover the soup continue onto Step 7. 

Step 7: Add in any herbs to the pot, 3-4 bay leaves, salt (1 tbsp.) and more cayenne or red pepper flakes (usually starting with 1/4 of a tsp). I like there to be a kick in my soup. If I were using any leafy greens this is when I would add those. Taste for seasoning. You are building the flavors of your broth at this point. After you do this cover the pot and let it simmer on low until all of the flavors have melded and the vegetables are soft. / If you're using store-bought broth you may not need as much salt. Just taste as you go at every turn for flavors and season as you need. /



Step 8: Once the vegetables are soft, take out the bay leaves. Ladle soup into a bowl. At this point, I always take a microplane zester and zest raw fresh garlic into each bowl. Any raw vegetable contains a lot of natural digestive enzymes that help you digest your food. Raw garlic is especially beneficial because it's almost a natural antibiotic and when it is raw none of the healing properties are cooked out of it. Raw garlic is your best bet for using garlic medicinally. This also adds a bit of spicy flavor that we really enjoy. If you are not used to this flavor, I would start with zesting a half of clove into each bowl. I also add a very soft sprinkling of cayenne to each bowl and then salt to taste. 


Step 9: Enjoy! Bring a bowl (or pot!) to your beloved friends and family with a fresh baguette, or bunch of freshly picked flowers for those who don't eat wheat or carbs. 



Measurements and Methods: 

I know I already gave a lengthy disclaimer about how I don't use measurements, and how you shouldn't get caught up in the stress of all that craziness for this easy soup. However, if you are one of those people who get more stressed out without any guidelines or measurements, I understand. Just for ya'll, I worked hard to write down some specific measurements and succinct directions. Remember to use these loosely, don't stress, have fun, and always taste at each turn for seasoning. 

Recipe: 

-4 big carrots ( I don't peel carrots anymore. The skin has so many health benefits. ) 
-4 big celery stalks 
-1 1/2 onions 
-7-9 cloves of garlic
-1 tbsp. of chopped fresh ginger (peel the skin off first) 
-A few of your favorite vegetables: You could do a head of cauliflower, a head of cabbage, one black radish, 1 sweet potato, some tomatoes, a bunch of mushrooms, 1 stem of broccoli, a few leaves of kale, etc. Get creative and don't stress about messing up! 
-3-4 bay leaves 
-Whatever herbs you have on hand. If they are fresh, tie with organic baker's twine into a little sachet. If you don't have fresh, just throw in about 1 1/2 tsp. of dried herbs. 
-1/4 cup of coconut oil
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-1 1/2 tbsp. of salt (more to taste) 
-1/2 tsp (more to taste) of either cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes / you can view this post to see where we buy our spices from / 
-About 5-8 cups of broth (vegetable broth, chicken broth, beef bone broth, etc. Also, if you don't have broth, you can use water, I would just amp up some of the seasoning) 

Chop all of your vegetables and prepare your  herbs. Set aside all ingredients. 
Heat a pot with coconut oil and olive oil. Add in vegetables except for garlic, ginger, and leafy greens. After a minute, add in garlic and ginger. Add in salt and cayenne pepper. Sauté the vegetables for about 3-4 minutes. You don't want them to get soft, just establish a little flavor. Next ladle in some homemade bone broth (or store bough if that's the only thing you have-- homemade is so cheap and flavorful though!). Ladle enough broth in to where it covers the vegetables and you get a good ratio of vegetables to liquid. Do this to your desired consistency. Bring all of this to a boil. After it reaches a boil turn down to a simmer and then add in your herbs, bay leaves, more salt, and more cayenne pepper. Let this all simmer on low until the flavors all meld and your vegetables are soft. Check for seasoning again. Serve your bowl of soup then zest in some raw garlic. Sprinkle in a soft sprinkling of cayenne pepper and add more salt if need be. Enjoy! 


P.S. I usually make a roasted chicken first. Then I will use the carcass of the chicken and the leftover bones (after we eat the meat) to make chicken broth. Then, I will make this soup with that broth. This is one of those things that saves me a lot of money in the end and you can get many wonderful meals from one. I love that. Also, You can view Laura's wonderful post on Monday to read more about a variety of spices and what kinds of issues they can help with specifically. Also, if you are looking for a good source to buy cayenne pepper and other spices to use medicinally you can view this post here



Disclaimer: The information on this web site is provided for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies.  None of the statements have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease.  If you choose to use any of this information for such purposes, you are exercising your Constitutional right of Freedom of Choice, and must accept full responsibility for the outcome. NO MEDICINAL CLAIMS ARE MADE.

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