Soup is one of the traditions that have survived throughout Chinese culture as a way of maintaining good health, and is probably one of the ways that Asians remain looking so young even as they age. In fact, many homemade soups share similar herbal ingredients to those used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I recall growing up as a child, and my mother would make soup once a week. In our family, this was a form of preventive medicine we used to keep our bodies nourished and healthy. My mother would always tell me to drink the soup, and she placed such a high importance on it, I think this is one of the reasons I find it easy to accept Chinese Medicine as a lifestyle.
The ingredients would be different depending on the season, but in general there is usually meat with bone as a base. Pork bone, or chicken bone is commonly combined with herbs, and vegetables. The bone is very nourishing according to TCM and should not be omitted in making soup. As you boil bone, it releases vital nutrients and minerals our bodies can use to build blood, bone, and connective tissue. This can be beneficial for people suffering from blood deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and arthritis - or even as a way to prevent these illnesses altogether. In addition to this, the bone marrow within bone is said to be produced by the kidneys in TCM, which are the root of our bodies. Consuming soup containing bone marrow can supplement our bodies and nourish our kidneys - an organ that may need boosting in infertility cases.
There was always a noticeable difference in how I felt after drinking soup. When your body has everything it needs, your energy level goes up, you become less irritable, more calm, and yet focused. In making soup, all the nutrients from the ingredients are extracted into the broth and the hot temperature of soup makes it easier for your digestive system to absorb everything. Soup is a great way to nourish our bodies, moisten dryness, and stay in harmony with the seasons.
In the winter, it makes sense to consume soups with warming properties as this keeps our immune system strong, ensuring we are able to ward off colds during the frigid winter months. Examples of foods with warming qualities include ginger, cinnamon, chicken, lamb, onions, and coconut meat.
As for the summer months, we spend a lot of time in the sun, either working on the garden, sitting on the beach, or BBQ'ing which adds an element of fire to the food we eat. This can cause us to lose our body fluids through sweating, while creating excess heat in the body leading to irritability, thirst which cannot be quenched by water, restlessness, fever, mouth sores, and constipation. A good soup to balance the body during the summer is watercress soup. A simple recipe involves boiling watercress, and adding salt. Watercress contains heat clearing and fluid nourishing qualities to replenish our bodies. If you want to take it a step further try adding pork bone, and herbs like barley, lotus root, dried shiitake mushrooms, and lotus seeds.
Feel free to search through the "Food As Medicine" page for more summer cooling foods.
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