On average January is the coolest month of the year here in Baltimore which makes it the perfect time to eat warming winter soups. But making a soup with TCM in mind may be a little more difficult. Here are some tips from TCM nutritionists.
Ingredients for a healthy winter soup should be warming (yang) in energy. Animal meats such as chicken, duck, pork, beef and fish are ideal. Boiling them quickly first will help get rid of excess fat. Vegetables that will retain their nutritious vitamins and fiber when cooked in high heat include yams, turnips, kelp and lotus roots. Herbs to add in winter to help with blood circulation and improve kidney qi are: ginseng, astralgus root, wolfberries (gouqi) and cordyceps.
If you own a clay pot, now is the time to use it. Clay helps transfer heat evenly and slowly, allowing water and ingredients to permeate each other and make a more strengthening soup. Boil the soup for one to one and a half hours for meat. A fish soup will cook in about 40 minutes. Add greens near the end of cooking to preserve vitamins and minerals. Start cooking with cold water (twice the amount of water to ingredients). If more water needs to be added during cooking, make sure it is at the same temperature.
Season with ginger, green onions and sesame oil if wanted. If you must use salt, add it after the soup is cooked to maximize nutrition.
Enjoy a bowl of energy soup before a meal to help with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
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