Chef’s Note: Let me apologize in advance. I am a vibration cooker. I rarely measure anything. There is nothing more apropos for such a right brain eclectic way of being than making soup. Soup can be this immortal, evolving food where leftovers get a makeover and everyone loves it. To those who cringe at no measurements, bear with me and go with the flow. Feel free to play with the concepts and give us a quantitative recipe if you develop one.
Soup is a wonderful way to get nutrients into the very ill. It is a hunger cruncher for someone who wants to lose weight. Soups are a saving grace on a tight budget in which no food can be wasted and it must spread far. Soup warms on cold winter days and soothes the troubled stomach.
Editor’s Note: Mama Jifunza is known for her miso soup. After eating Wei Chi Soup at the Goldthread Farms Herbal Medicine Intensive in Conway, Massachusetts this past fall, she is crazed and fixes it at every opportunity. This soup contains power-packed immune boosters. Astragalus and Shitaki mushrooms went into this batch, but other herbs and medicinal mushrooms like Rhodiola, ginseng, maca, Eleutherococcus, cordyceps, maitake, turkey tails, and others can go in for adrenal support, anti-aging etc. It is a soup that can be eaten everyday especially in the winter for internal strengthening and rejuvenation, to treat or ward off a cold. Green lentils and basmati rice is what was in overstock and was the base for the soup. We had leftover celery, onions, garlic, ginger which was boiled down to make a soup broth. Green beans, leeks, carrots, broccoli bottoms, and Brussel sprouts from the last market were sliced and put in towards the end of the cooking. Burdock root from this market was but in for more medicine. Last, the best miso in all of the U.S.A, South River Miso. We used the Sweet Tasting Brown Rice Miso for those who want to keep their soy levels to a minimum.
Make The Broth
Use leftover vegetables to make soup broth (omnivores, you can boil down your bones instead of throwing them away or giving them to the dogs). This enrichens the flavor and the nutrients of the soup and can be used to cook beans, peas, or lentils before putting them in the soup (if there is any left). Strain the broth and put it in a glass jar preferably in the refrigerator for later use. For a chunkier stew-like soup, the boiled down parts can be left in the broth instead of composted.
Add The Medicine
Dried mushrooms can be soaked in this broth and simmered to add flavor and nutrients. Healing herbs can be cooked with the other vegetables and strained or prepared separately. Note: aromatics are not to boil but roots and barks do. To 1 quart of water add 1 to 3 tsp of the medicinal herbs (see list). Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes before straining and adding to the broth.
Add The Beans/Peas/Grain/Pasta
I have found that adding cooked beans, peas, grains or pasta makes for a more flavorful soup instead of cooking the beans and grains with different cooking times in the broth. If you are in a hurry, have only 1 eye or 1 pot, it will still turn out good. The consistency is up for discretion. For a brothier soup, add smaller portions, for a heartier soup, add more. You type O ers… add your chicken or fish or other meats that might be added….be creative.
Add The Vegetables
I like to stir fry or sauté my vegetables to go into the final stages of the soup. It is perfectly O.K. to allow them to parboil but ideally only for 5 to 7 minutes. Your choice of root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, celeriac, and/or the healing burdock root can be sliced to bite-size thrown in the wok or pot first. Once they start to get tender and the onions carmelize, add the green vegetables of your choice. Root vegetables are very grounding and are great winter foods.