Today I am sharing a favorite seasonal soup recipe that boosts immune function, strengthens kidneys, and is great if you are feeling under the weather or already have a cold/flu. My Aromatic Winter Soup is a loose interpretation of Vietnamese phở. What I love most about phở is the depth of the broth flavor and the fresh aromatics that go on top. These two elements add incredible texture, flavor, and loads of health promoting properties.
During the last month of the year it can be easy to take on too much and deplete our immune system. Slowing down long enough to cook a big pot of this soup will make a difference, trust me. Simply carving out a couple of hours to chop veggies and herbs to create a nourishing meal will help soothe frayed nerves and bring you into balance.
In Chinese Medicine winter is associated with our kidneys which are the keepers of our basic energy. This is the energy we inherited from our lineage, the energy we were born with. In many schools of Chinese Medicine it is believed that that kidney energy is finite, once it is depleted it cannot be replenished. It is very important to take care of our kidneys during winter and use the season to strengthen them.
There are many foods that are beneficial for our kidneys as well as our immune system. In these cooler months our bodies need foods that are deeply nourishing and warming like soups. I use an entire small organic chicken in the recipe in order to get the benefits of the bones in the broth. The bones add minerals that are easily absorbed by the body. Home cooked broth helps to reduce inflammation while promoting healthy digestion. For rich flavor and more minerals from the bones, I use a roasted chicken. You can roast the chicken yourself or buy one already roasted from an organic market.
I like to cook my soup for 2 hours. Traditional bone broths are cooked in excess of 24 hours but this soup has many of the same benefits and can be made in an afternoon. Fresh ginger in the broth makes it more digestible supports nutrient absorption. This is a recipe I have used with many clients and they love how easy and versatile it is.
If you are already sick, chicken broth and fresh aromatics work wonders for healing the body. Topping off the soup with heaps of fresh cilantro, parsley, scallions, mint, fresh turmeric and ginger will bring your body temperature up which helps expel mucous and sickness. Cultures around the world have known the benefits of sweating while sick to help speed the recovery process and bring symptom relief.
Making soup with an entire chicken is super easy. If you want to drain the broth and just have that with the fresh herbs feel free. Another option is to eat the soup as is, being mindful of the tiny chicken parts that will be floating around the soup. We like to eat it with the chicken in, saving the majority of the chicken scraps for the cat – great way to put them to use!
When reading my recipe please note that I did not write out measurements (minus the ghee and ginger) on purpose. Making a healing soup like this should be a fun and intuitive process. Taste as you go and enjoy the process. This is also part of the healing. The more we put our intentions and love into the soup the more it will nourish us on every level. If you’re not accustomed to eating raw ginger and turmeric start with 1/2 tablespoon per serving. Use a fine mesh grater to get the most out of these healing spices. How’s that for an extra measurement ;)
This soup will keep for 5 days in the fridge. Strain the leftovers and freeze for up to 3 months. The broth makes an incredible base for other soups, beans, and grains.
Many of you know that I kept a strict plant based diet for years. Healing with food has been a journey that I am grateful to be able to share with you. Part of my practice when I get nourishment from animals is to say a prayer and take time to connect with their energy. Being conscious of all of the work that has gone into making this healing food is very important to me. I encourage you to consider how you relate to your sources of nourishment and look for places to bring more mindfulness into your food preparation.
Aromatic Winter Soup
- 2 Tbsp. ghee
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 8 large cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp. raw ginger, grated
- 2 small new potatoes, diced
- 1 small roasted whole chicken
- 1 medium parsnip, leave whole
- 1 bunch dino kale
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch scallions
- Large piece of fresh ginger and turmeric
- 2 lemons
- Celtic sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- In a large pot warm the ghee over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery for 7-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté a few more minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Put in the potatoes and stir well a few times.
- Next place the roasted chicken and parsnip in the pot and fill with water to cover. Be sure chicken is covered with 2 inches of water on top.
- Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 2 hours.
- While the soup is cooking slice the kale into very thin strips and set aside.
- When soup is finished season with salt and pepper.
- Add a handful of raw kale to each bowl of soup you are preparing.
- Ladle hot soup on top of the kale.
- Top with one small handful of each herb: parsley, cilantro, mint, and scallions. Grate fresh ginger and turmeric on top.
- Squeeze 1/4 of a lemon in each bowl and serve hot.