Food As Medicine
Nourishing Vegetable Broth
Facing into a long stretch of cozy home time and a deep desire to nourish my immune system makes me think of a big pot of soup. It also helps stretch precious food resources; important if you, like me, are in a place where lots of the shelves in the grocery store are empty. Perhaps your local farmstand or the produce section has some vegetables, maybe you have a winter garden with greens (kale! chard!), or maybe you know of some carrots or beets languishing in your refrigerator. If you are in Northern California, maybe you know of a patch of wild onions or nettle nearby to which you could hike. Maybe you are fortunate enough to have the precious and powerful garlic on hand. There are so many delicious and nourishing variations on this theme.
Allium family members (garlic, wild onions, onions, leeks or shallots): anti-viral, immune supporting allicin and anti-inflammatory quercetin (plus other benefits like cardiovascular and anti-cancer activity) (4-6 cloves garlic, a bunch of wild onions)
Greens: Chard, kale, other cruciferous greens: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, immune supporting (a big bunch)
Nettle: nutritive and rich in minerals, with a mild sweetness (the top three levels of fresh spring growth, several)
Olive oil: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and a nourishing healthy fat
Sweet potato, carrots, squash: immune supportive, anti-oxidative and yummy (several carrots, a couple of sweet potatoes)
Herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme: antiviral, antibacterial, immune supportive, anti-oxidative, cough suppressing (the more the better)
Start with a big soup pot, and heat the oil on low-moderate heat being careful not to smoke it. (Use a generous amount, a few tablespoons roughly. All amounts here are rough, reflecting a relaxed approach to the whole thing.)
Smash your garlic and chop your onions. Let them sit for a few minutes as that activates the powerful goodness (allicin) therein. Put the allium family members into the pot, stirring, smelling the amazing aroma.
Chop your orange, beta-carotenoid rich veggies (sweet potatoes or carrots, or maybe you have a squash around that you haven't eaten yet?). Through them in the pot for a few more minutes with the alliums.
Chop your greens.
Put the greens in, stir and then
add water, covering all of the veggies plus two inches.
Now add in fresh, finely chopped herbs. This is a great time to give thanks if you have a local rosemary bush you can harvest from, and, if not, to consider if you have a place to plant one. Same with perennials thyme and oregano, both of which contain thymol, and are thus powerful soothers of lingering coughs.
Let it simmer, covered, being sure not to boil it. As it simmers, if you have nettle to add put on some gardening cloves, separate the leaves from the stem and chop. The simmering broth inactivates the sting.
Let it cook for a couple of hours on low.
Salt to taste.
I like to leave the veggies in for the added fiber and yumminess.
Voila! Now you have a nourishing broth you can sip, as you would a tea, or use it as a base for all sorts of soups. I'll send out some of my favorite soups I've been making in upcoming posts.
Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze to use later.
Please, please consider, if you have abundant resources, making and sharing soup with those who might not be able to themselves. If you have an abundant rosemary hedge, for example, share with others. More chard than you could ever eat? Same. Consider what future resilience and culinary delights might be served by growing potent culinary herbs and vegetables in your yard, your neighborhood, your community.