As the weather turns cold, consider a warming Winter Soup!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is hot, bright, and Yang, while winter is just the opposite; it is cold, dark and Yin. Traditional Chinese healers encourage us to adjust our diet and lifestyle during the winter in order to support our kidney energy system which in Five Elements Theory, corresponds to winter. The kidney energy system controls our hormone, blood, and fluid levels as well as our reproductive and bone health. The adrenal glands that are associated with kidney energy help regulate our metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and our response to stress.
To stay healthy during the winter, we need to eat Yin-nourishing foods like root vegetables, and dark-colored seeds or beans. Soups made with hearty root vegetables and rich bone stocks warm our bodies and restore our energy. Vegetarians and vegans who do not cook with bone stock can prepare their soups with vegetable stock or a soup base made with mushrooms and kelp.
Root vegetables have a good amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant that protect our cells from damage. Sweet potatoes and yams are naturally packed with vitamin A, B5, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and carotenoids that are anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and have anti-cancer properties. The iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in potatoes help the body to build and maintain bone structure and strength, and ginger is famous as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral root. Radishes have an abundant supply of vitamin B, vitamin C, and minerals that help detoxify and cleanse the lung, liver, and stomach energy systems.
Cook winter soups slowly on medium-to-low heat to release their vitamins and minerals, then season it to taste with salt or soy sauce, and pepper. Now is the time to enjoy hearty soups made with root vegetables and warming spices that tonify the kidney energy system which not only supports the production of hormones, it also enhances the likelihood that we will live a long, healthy life.
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