It's flu season, so why not let the ultimate healer and protector, food, keep you healthy and your taste buds happy? Soups are perhaps my favorite item to prepare, and it's remarkably easy to make them taste good (I've used a great spice called anise, which I explain more below). By the same token, the ingredients I've selected in this recipe also work from a Chinese medicine dietary therapy to keep one healthier in the process.
As I've talked about in numerous other recipes, I'm increasingly leaning on ingredients and cooking methods that will keep your "middle burner warm", and this recipe is no different. The benefit is to help aid one's overall digestive health, which in Chinese medicine is the path to overall wellness - regardless of the time of year. I've also prepared this in a way that will be pleasing to both your taste buds and provide you a classic warm and fuzzy feeling (of warmth) on this inside too.
"Warming Foods" to the Rescue
On the food side of things, warming foods that support Yang and warm cooking methods such as roasting are preferred. To this end, roasted kabocha squash is the ultimate emblem of the winter/fall season, and is a go-to ingredient for a comforting soup. When in doubt, use butternut squash as a good substitute.
According to Chinese medicine theory, winter squash helps to resolve phlegm, strengthen Qi and routes through the spleen, making it a perfect immunity boosting ingredient. The apples bring a "nice cooling" to the "warming" onions which gives us that Yin and Yang balance. Star anise and cider vinegar are great warming ingredients and the orange zest accents the Qi.
This recipe has 8 simple ingredients, all of which I picked-up at Whole Foods. The most involved process is prepping the vegetables for roasting, but ultimately this comes together quite quickly. Each ingredient offers a benefit and serves a purpose from a Chinese medicine perspective, and I walk through each of those at the bottom of the recipe.
As a side note, I've use "anise" which is a spice not too dissimilar from fennel or licorice. You should be able to find it in your grocery store's spice section - it's delicious and helps promote Qi.
Squash, Apple & Anise Soup for Flu Season Health
Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and lightly oil the entire squash and roast squash cut side down at 400° until soft and caramelized.
Saute diced onion until translucent then add roasted squash, diced apple, stock, anise, zest, salt and pepper. Simmer until soft and puree in blender or use an immersion blender. Add almond milk, cider vinegar and adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with a bit of orange zest.
|Ingredients||Chinese Medicine Benefits|
|Kabocha Squash||Warming Qi tonic, strengthens the spleen|
|Apple||Supports the spleen and cooling for balance|
|Chicken Stock||Fortifies Qi|
|Star Anise||Promotes Qi|
|Orange Zest||Transforms mucus|
|Almond Milk||Warming & relieves stagnant Qi|
|Cider Vinegar||Warming & detoxifying|