Monday, April 23, 2012

Food is Medicine : On Making Beet Soup

My FB friend Larry asked the other day if i would share my recipe for the beet soup i mentioned in my status update. I would be happy to share it with him but the problem is that i do not use recipes. I plan our meals based on what we purchased at our farmers market and what vegetables we did not sell. I come up with an idea for the meal during the day and put it together on the fly, pulling from our pantry and garden various complementary herbs and spices, deciding on a cooking technique. Sometimes I have a plan the day before when i want to use a technique such as brining a cut of meat or preparing a soup.
My herbal medicine teacher recommended a book to us at our last class called Food As Medicine: The Theory and Practice of Food by Todd Caldecott. As soon as i got it i read it from cover to cover. It is based on Ayurvedic principles. I do not know much about Ayurveda yet but i do believe food is indeed medicine and using food is the best way to restore and maintain optimum health. Since i have begun my journey back to optimal health I have started creating vegetable soup stocks that are based on concepts i have learned in my classes on herbal medicines. My goals for my stock are as follows:
  1. Provide the full complement of mineral nutrients we need. The food most of us eat today does not necessarily do that as a result of major the depletion of minerals in the soils in which it is grown. Of course here at The Funny Farm we go to great lengths to make sure our food is nutrient dense.
  2. Promote good digestion. If our digestive system is not functioning properly then we are not able to fully extract the nutrients we consume. I learned from the multitude of tests i had done at Progressive Medical Center that my digestive system was not working optimally so i want to enhance that.
  3. Promote detoxification in our bodies. We constantly intake toxins, chlorine and who knows what else in the water, particulates in the air, harmful chemicals such as BPA in packaging and crap from many other sources. While we are working on eliminating those sources from our lives as much as possible, poisons are pretty much unavoidable in today's world. We have to insure that our excretory systems, the liver, kidneys, lungs, bowels and skin are working well.
  4. Counter the mostly inevitable effects of aging. As we age, the physiological functions of our bodies slow down as a result of life long stresses and oxidation. Many of the ingredients in this stock, while acting on specific organs and or systems, also act as adaptogens.  Adaptogens help to restore balance to all the systems and help us adapt to stress.
  5. Taste good. If the stock tasted like crap we would not use it making all of the above irrelevent.
Here is the formula for my medicinal stock.

Vegetable Stock Ingredients
3 Qt. water
2 Tbs. turmeric
2 Tbs. cumin seed
6 fresh bay leaves
1 4x4 sheet kombu seaweed- torn into small pieces
1 handful wakame seaweed
1 whole organic onion w/ skin- quartered
1 whole head organic garlic broken into cloves- skin intact
1 fresh dandelion root- chopped
3 - thumb sized pieces ginger- chopped
3 - 6" sprigs fresh rosemary
½ C. fresh oregano
¼ cup live (Braggs) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot. Heat until the water just starts to simmer. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-24 hours. Allow to cool. Strain and pour into glass  containers. I use quart canning jars. Use immediately, freeze or refrigerate for later use (within a few days).

Benefits of each ingredient
turmeric - anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, reputed to lower bad cholesterol
cumin seed - anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, stimulates digestion, anti-congestive
bay leaves - promotes digestion, anti- congestive, increases good cholesterol
seaweeds - over 60 micronutrients our bodies need that we might not be getting from our food due to soil de-mineralization. Anti-inflammatory, boosts circulation, detoxifying, enhances thyroid function.
onion - anti-oxidant, thins blood, lowers blood pressure
garlic - anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, expectorant, lowers blood pressure, stimulates digestion
dandelion root - promotes liver and gallbladder function, detoxifying, stimulates digestion
ginger - stimulates digestion, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial
rosemary - circulatory stimulant, anti-depressant, anti-microbial, stimulates digestion, anti-oxidant, strengthens memory, promotes liver and gallbladder function
oregano -  anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, expectorant, anti-oxidant, blood thinner
live apple cider vinegar - adds beneficial gut flora, anti-microbial, kidney stimulant, balances pH in the body
black pepper - anti-oxidant, digestive stimulant, diuretic
sea salt - adds many essential minerals

How i use the stock:
Soup or stew. I use 1 quart as the base for soups. I dilute it with another quart of water and add what ever ingredients i have available i.e. sausages or left over chicken, legumes such as lentils or beans, grains such as brown rice or quinoa and vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips, onions and greens.

I also put a quart in the refrigerator and i drink a cup in the mornings as a daily tonic. Sometimes i add some mushrooms if i have them and/or miso which adds beneficial gut bacteria and lots of additional nutrients.

So Larry, here is my recipe for Beet soup :)

1 large onion diced and sauteed in olive oil. I do this in the soup pot before adding the other ingredients
5-6 small beets and their greens, washed and chopped
1 bunch turnips and their greens, washed and chopped
2 breakfast sausages chopped
1 qt. vegetable stock
1 qt. water

After saute´ing the onion add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the the roots are tender. A couple of hours ought to do it. This soup only gets better with age. We eat it for dinner, lunch the next day and finish it off for breakfast the 3rd day.
Deellliiissshhuuusssss! and nutttriiiishhhuuuuss too!

Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes
Herbal Therapy and Supplements by Merrily A. Kuhn and David Winston
Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman
The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green

1 comment:

Pest Control Portland Oregon said...

Wow, thanks for this recipe!