Staying Grounded: A Simple, Seasonal Soup

Winter is Vata season – season of air and wind. It leaves many of us a little scattered, especially if we are not living in tune with the seasons and taking more downtime and rest as the plants and animals around us do.
People with heavy amounts of Vata in their Ayurvedic constitution tend to have more difficulty staying focused and calm during winter months. Anxiety, worry, distracting thoughts, insomnia, or feeling “spaced out” is common for them when imbalanced. On a physical level, one may experience more gas, bloating, and constipation, fatigue with an inability to relax, and increased sensitivity to the cold. The grounding soup recipe below is seasonally appropriate for winter – when root veggies come into season – and they are quite calming and grounding to the body. From a Chinese 5 element and Ayurvedic standpoint, root vegetables draw our energy back towards the earth and help keep us calm and focused. They are slightly more yang, their own energies cause them to grow close to or burrow into the earth and this energy is passed onto the consumer.
Don’t believe in “energy” around food? Sugar, a highly yin food, makes most people a little spastic and unfocused. When Mom cooks a meal, it tastes better than when you follow her recipe to the “T”, because it is infused with her love. When the chef is upset…well, you can taste it in the food. It’s flat and “off” somehow.

If you are feeling a little spacey, a little anxious, a little constipated and bloated or just want a seasonal, warm winter meal, try the soup recipe below. It’s simple and delightful this time of year!

GROUNDING SOUP

– adapted from Jen Hoy’s recipe at about.com

According to Chinese 5 element theory, round and root vegetables strengthen the spleen and reproductive organs, nourish the liver, and aid digestion. This soothing soup has a notable calming, easing effect, and should be eaten often by anyone with a sensitive nervous system. The soup also helps promote lactation, and balance blood sugar. It is especially good during the cooler months, as it is considered a warming soup.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
* 1 leek, white and green parts, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 medium carrot, chopped
* 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
* 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
* 1 small turnip or rutabaga, peeled and chopped
* 1 small pumpkin, or butternut or kabocha squash, peeled and chopped
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 quarts vegetable or beef stock
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
* Sea salt
* Chopped parsley (optional)
* fresh ginger to taste (optional)

Preparation:
In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, leek, garlic, celery and carrot, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, pumpkin and bay leaf. Stir vegetables, and then add vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Add thyme, and sea salt to taste. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf, and puree soup in a Vitamix, if desired.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. This soup keeps well for several days.

Makes about 3 quarts, or 6 servings.