by Diane Giuliani
As I watch the colors fade on the perennials in my garden and the leaves begin to accumulate on my back patio, I’m reminded that autumn has arrived. Annually I find myself emotionally conflicted around this time of year. I find myself beginning to mourn the loss of the warm, bright, expansive days of summer, while concurrently there lies an excitement that anticipates the cooler temperatures, shorter days, cozy nights and thirst quenching rains.
Last week as I contemplated the menu for my Foods to Nourish class, I became very aware that I had a real craving for soup. Now this took me by surprise because it was over 90ºF outside. “Who in their right mind would want soup in this kind of weather?” I asked. As I pondered the underlying meaning behind my craving, it occurred to me that my yearning for soup had to do with a desire for the grounded feeling that comes with autumn. However, the dilemma I faced was that I still had so many summer vegetables in my garden that I needed to use; soup seemed like a ridiculous idea. I began to pour through my cookbooks to see what might grab my fancy thinking that I’d probably land on some derivation of a zucchini soup. Well surprise, surprise, that’s not what happened at all. A recipe for Thai It Up Chicken Soup (sans the chicken), from Rebecca Katz’s book, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen, is what piqued my taste buds. I followed the basic recipe but decided to replace the chicken with ….. you guessed it…. vegetables from my garden!! It was delicious and I was left with a feeling of resourcefulness while simultaneously meeting myself where I was with my craving for soup.
Our bodies are dynamic just as the seasons are – possibly even more so. Our daily and seasonal rhythms guide us to make the choices we do about what we eat, how we dress and what activities we engage in. And on a cellular level, there is continued regeneration and renewal, death and elimination that is perpetually happening within our body. We expand and contract, ebb and flow, move and lie still exactly as we see in nature. When I reflect on this thought I feel a sense of renewal, knowing that my mind and body are always striving to serve me and meet my plethora of functions and needs. Just as nature strives for balance with light and darkness, warmth and cold, so also do our bodies. So next time you feel a nudge, trust your intuition and allow room for something to come that you might otherwise dismiss. It could be the balance that your body is hungry for.
Say farewell to yesterday, greet today, and welcome tomorrow!
Thai It Up Vegetable Soup
Adapted from – The Cancer Fighting Kitchen – Rebecca Katz
The coconut milk in this soup is soothing to the nerves. The ginger aids digestion and the lime brightens up the overall flavor. The result is a soup that awakens taste buds dulled from various cancer therapies.
8 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
2 shallots, or 1small red onion, peeled and halved
6 1-inch pieces of unpeeled fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and cut into chunks
2 kaffir lime leaves, or 1 tsp. lime zest
½ tsp. sea salt
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
4-6 ounces rice noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces (I substituted a brown rice Penne Pasta)
1 cup peeled and finely diced carrot
2 Japanese eggplants sliced into wheels
1 ½-2 cups broccoli florets
3-4 baby Bok Choy sliced ¼ inch thick strips
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2 tbsp. sliced scallion, cut thinly on the diagonal, for garnish
Combine the broth, shallots ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, and ¼ tsp. of the salt in a soup pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out all of the solids and discard. Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer, being careful not to boil, for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the rice noodle into a bowl of hot water and soak until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Or cook the rice noodles according to the package being careful not to overcook the.
Stir the carrots, eggplant, broccoli, Bok Choy and cayenne into the soup, simmer for 10 minutes. If you want to add additional vegetables, do it when you add the other vegetables. Simmer until they are the desired tenderness. Stir in the noodles, lime juice, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and then taste test. You may want to add a bit more salt and 1/8 tsp. maple syrup. Serve garnished with the cilantro and scallion.
*Sliced chicken or tofu may be added to this soup if desired to boost the protein.