Okie-dokie. I’m back from sticking my head in the ground. I am ready to bring you crazy goodness.
So now that we’re in the heart of winter, I thought I’d do a little something to ward off those seasonal chills, colds, and hack-up-your-insides situations. Boyfriend has had a disgusting cough these past few days. He totally deserves it. Each time he’s coughed, I’ve either mocked him, told him to shut up, or said “Stop it”. Still, I was inspired by his love of ginger, and knowing how beneficial ginger is to the immune system, decided to concoct a tasty, healing soup. In the west, we tend to associate ginger with holiday sweets and little else. But in the east, aside from relieving nausea, ginger is often used against coughs, flu, arthritis, headaches, and general inflammation. It’s one of those indispensable ingredients.
Unlike a lot of ginger-tinged soups on the web, this one does not start with a canvas of sweetness, such as butternut squash, apple, or carrots. (It does have carrots, but very few.) Instead, I looked to South India’s rasams for a little tutelage. Often made with lentils (or other legumes), rasams are relatively thin, savory-tangy soups, and with all their spices, are rather tasty alternatives to over-the-counter medicine. My creation has no legumes (though I thought about it), but is a puree of simple, easy-to-find ingredients, along with some heat, tang, and relief from whatever ails you. Even dumb boyfriends. Okay, maybe not, but y’know…
Sick-In-Bed (or just-because-you-like-it) Ginger Soup
3 medium carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red)
1 small yellow onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 four to five inch piece of fresh ginger
olive oil, salt & pepper (to coat the above)
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered fenugreek
several dashes of cumin and coriander
5-6 cups water
lemon juice, and/or apple cider vinegar, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coarsely chop the carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and ginger (of course, peel the onion, garlic and ginger). Save the celery leaves and set them aside. Toss the chopped ingredients with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray (I lined mine with aluminum foil. Fewer dishes to wash…), and bake on the bottom rack for about one hour, or until everything is tender.
2) Transfer the roasted veggies to a soup pot, and add the celery leaves, powdered ginger, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about half an hour (at least).
3) If you have an immersion blender, use that to puree the soup. If not, use a blender to puree the chunks of vegetables, then return them to the broth and mix well. Add a few (or several) tablespoons of lemon juice and/or vinegar, salt and pepper to your taste. Adjust any other seasonings. You may also want to add a small spoonful of sweetener to calm the ginger. Depends on how much you like the natural taste of ginger.
If you want to tinker with this recipe, you could include ingredients such as: other roasted vegetables– tomatoes, potatoes, parsnips, beets, etc.; tamarind paste; buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt; peanut, almond, or cashew butter; unsweetened coconut, almond, or soy milk; lentils, beans, or leafy greens. To make a meal of it, serve with, or over basmati rice, and some grilled tofu or fish.
This soup will seem more harsh at first, if you’re not accustomed to spicy foods. But as it sits, the ginger will mellow out, the sweetness from the roasted veggies will come through, and the acidity of lemon/vinegar will bring out the yum of the whole shebang. It opens up the airways, warms your stomach, and clarifies your head. Yeah, you might hack up some phlegm, but that’s a good thing. Don’t suppress your illness, purge it out. Mmm… purge…