It's been a rough winter for many of us and we’re only half way through. As we move through the winter and begin to yearn for the spring, we can look to the wisdom of Ayurveda (Ayur=life, Veda= Wisdom) to understand how to manage the cold and dampness of late winter. In Ayurveda, Winter is divided into two parts. The first part is cold and dry (December-January), influenced by the elements of Air and Space that comprise Vata Dosha. The second part is cold and wet (February-March), influenced by the elements of Water and Earth that comprise Kapha Dosha. In order to stay healthy we need to counteract, or balance, these environmental elements. As we enter the cold and wet time of late winter, we can stay healthy and inspired by eating lighter soups that inspire us toward he lightness of spring while keeping us warm with spices and herbs. Soup is the perfect late winter food for the following reasons: It is warm, it is liquid, and it is made from foods that have been cooked together. Warmth aids digestion so that our bodies don’t have to use energy to heat up cold foods before we can digest and assimilate them, which is especially hard when it is cold outside. Liquid allows us to stay hydrated. And, foods that have been cooked together are kinder to the digestion because they were already combined before arriving in the stomach. Late winter is a great time to start lightening up (losing weight and/or becoming more buoyant in your mood) to counteract the heavy qualities of Kapha (Earth and Water) that dominate this time of year. All soups are not created equal. Stay away from heavier soups that have dairy, meat, or tomato bases as these will enhance the feelings of lethargy. Instead try using broth (bone, meat, or veggie) combined with warming herbs and spices to ignite the digestive fire. Try adding chili, cayenne, chipotle, ginger, garlic, and black pepper to your soups.
Try this simple soup recipe and add your own creative additions, or leave out parts you don’t like.
Hannah’s End of Winter Soup
5 c. bone, meat or vegetable broth (ideally homemade)
1 T. ghee or unrefined coconut oil
1/2 c. mushrooms
1 c. red lentils
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. grated ginger
1/4 t. chili or chipotle powder
2 potatoes (white or sweet)
2 c. collard, mustard, or turnip greens
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. rosemary
salt to taste
Soak red lentils for at least an hour, then rinse.
Chop onion, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and greens.
In a soup pot, sauté onion and mushrooms in ghee or coconut oil until the onions become translucent.
Add broth and remaining ingredients, except salt and green onion.
Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to a simmer for 1 hour.
Add salt to taste and sprinkle in some fresh chopped green onion.
Serve and enjoy!
Want to feel even lighter in your body, mind, and spirit? Try eating a larger, nourishing lunch and then having a lighter dinner, maybe just a small bowl of soup. You will notice it allows you to sleep better, have more energy in the morning, and your digestion will be less sluggish. You may even lose some weight. Here’s to your health!