Vegan Land and Sea Vegetable Soup is a gentle way to cleanse and renew the body in Spring, or whenever you feel weak or are recovering from illness. It relies on the deep flavors of root vegetables, sea vegetables, and shitake mushroom. It is a simple soup with subtle flavors to be savored slowly and mindfully.
Late Winter Early Spring in Ayurveda
Late Winter Early Spring is its own season in Ayurveda, the time of year when Kapha dosha (water and earth) elevate in all of us. If you have overdone heavy food in winter, or have a Kapha elevation, this is a good time for a strict Kapha pacifying diet of lighter warming diet. Early Spring is also the time of year when all of us can benefit from mild cleansing via a diet rich in green vegetable and low in heavy or damp producing foods like wheat, meat, sugar and dairy.
This Vegan Land and Sea Vegetable Soup has dual qualities–it is cleansing, to the the lymphatic system and to the deepest tissues, or shrotas in Ayurveda. At the same time, because of its concentrated mineral and polysaccharide content, it is strengthening. In Ayurveda it has the effect of Rasayana. In Chinese Medicine we would say that this kind of soup in which the essence of solids is diffused in liquids builds the Jing.
Shitake Mushrooms in Chinese Medicine
Shitake mushrooms are an excellent fragrant mushroom that in Chinese Herbal Medicine are used to strengthen the stomach and intestines, invigorate the blood, fortify the bones, and re-enforce the Qi and Yang of the body. The Qi and Yang are, among other things, in charge of the Immune System.
Indeed the polysaccharide found in Shitake, Lentinan, can induce interferon and promote T-lymphocyte and macrophage activity. They are rich in vitamins B1 and B2; contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron; and 7 amino acids. They are also one of the few known vegan and kosher sources of Vitamin D. 1.
Regular consumption of Shitake mushrooms is used in Chinese Dietary Therapy to protect against colds and flu, to fortify our “righteous Qi, , and to promote longevity. It is traditional to consume it in soups, sometimes with other herbs like Ginseng, Dang Gui, or Astragalus, for this purpose. Studies in Japan have shown that shitake is also useful for lowering cholesterol
While you can get fresh Shitake at the market, grown in the USA, somehow the dried ones from Japan, (not China) have a stronger fragrance and darker color. They may be a different variety, or could just have better growing conditions. I know the fresh ones here in California are typically grown indoors.
Sea Vegetables in Chinese Medicine
Kombu and Wakame sea vegetables make this Vegan Land and Sea Vegetable Soup cleansing for the lymphatic system that has been taxed by the work of fighting off infections in Winter, and perhaps by the work of dealing with the by-products of the heavier food taken in Late Autumn Early Winter.
In Chinese medicine we use these sea “weeds” medicinally in herbal formulas for people with swollen glands due to infectious disease, or for lung conditions in which deep seated phlegm needs resolution.
I have written about Kombu and Wakame elsewhere on the blog, suffice to say they are also full of minerals, and natural salts. I do not add any additional salt to this soup, which enables you to really sit with the ocean taste from these guys, and the subtle saltiness. Over-consumption of salt in our diets can dull our palate’s ability to perceive more subtle flavors.
Burdock Root in Chinese Medicine
Another key ingredient is Burdock Root. Burdock root is a vegetable that grows deep into the ground, like a long stick. It has an intense, but mild tasting character. It is excellent in stir fry, and medicinally is an excellent blood cleanser. The seeds of this plant are used in Chinese Medicine for heat clearing in viral infectious illness.
Parsnip Root in Chinese Medicine
Parsnip is an excellent vegetable that levels blood sugar. Along with the onion and carrot it provides a subtle earthy, sweet flavor that balances the taste of the sea veggies and shitake mushroom. Parsnip root is considered a Spleen and Stomach Qi tonic in Chinese Medicine, which describes foods that give energy and are easy to digest.
VEGAN LAND And Sea VEGETABLE SOUP For SPRING
Makes 1.5 quarts of soup.
1/2 large brown onion, in quarters
5 dried shitake mushrooms, previously soaked in water to soften. use the water, too.
1 bunch parsley, including the stalks, or 1/2 parsley root.
3 small burdock roots, chopped, about 1.5 cups worth
2 small to medium carrots
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
4-5 slices fresh ginger root
a piece of kombu sea veggie, about 1″x5″ broken into 4-5 pieces
a piece of wakame sea veggie, same size as kombu
white pepper to taste
Add everything but the parsley leaves (put the stalks in) in 1.5 qts of water and bring to a boil.
Cook on a low medium heat until the onions are clear and the kombu is totally softened.
Kombu will enlarge considerable, but will retain its shape, whereas the wakame will nearly dissolve.
I like to cook this soup for about an hour. If you want your carrots or celery less cooked, add them later.
I add the parsley leaves with about 10 minutes left on the stove.
This should produce a deep clear broth that tastes of the ocean and the land. You should really be able to taste each ingredient, from the onion to the wakame. Peraps parsnip and wakame predominate.
To increase the cleansing affect of this soup, add dandelion greens, nettles, or chicory leaf (italian dandelion). These are all very easy to grow in your own garden. I collected Nettle seeds from the canyon last year and sprinkled them in the worst soil in my garden (in San Diego in the shad) and I now have Nettles.
Chicory is a vegetable that people in USA used to eat and that people in Italy still do. It is bitter like our native dandelion, but produces beautiful blue flowers. It’s a perennial in the garden, and produces deep green leaves.
Meat eaters can cook this soup with chicken bones, or chicken, or some ocean fish to make a deep toning soup that would be suitable any time of year, but especially winter.
Once could also cook this soup with Chinese herbs like Dang Gui, Ren Shen, or Huang Qi to assist tonification after illness, or for prevention. Do not cook with tonic herbs while sick with a cold or flu, but during the late stage recovery period. For more on this topic, see my recipes in The Bone Broth Secret, by Louise Hay and Heather Dane
I also like, on the second day, to turn this into a miso soup. Just add your favorite miso paste (mix it with some water first to liquify), bring to a very low boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. You now have a different soup. Two soups in one!
copyright eyton shalom, san diego, ca all rights reserved, use with permission.