Soups are one of the easiest ways to start cooking with medicinal herbs. You can add your favorite herbal medicines to any soup you plan to make.
Some are boiled up in the pot and removed before eating. Others can be left in and eaten with the rest of the ingredients. Cooking with medicinal herbs can include medicinal roots, greens, mushrooms and seasonings. Flavors range from mild to quite delicious.
They all create a wonderful health-promoting meal the whole family can enjoy. The best part is that it’s so simple!
Best Ingredients for Cooking with Medicinal Herbs
Choose any combination of the following ingredients for your next soup. You can chose based on flavor, texture or medicinal benefits.
While many people think of garlic as a culinary ingredient, most herbalists consider it a top medicinal. It’s best to chop the garlic and let it sit for ten minutes before cooking. Many like to sauté it first to release the flavors. However, the chopped garlic can be added right to the soup pot as well.
Garlic has exceptional benefits for the heart. These include lowering blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels. It’s also excellent for boosting the immune system, especially for colds and flu. Garlic is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and promotes healthy gut flora. It’s one of the most scientifically studied herbal medicines.
Shiitakes are often added to foods simply for their flavor alone. They are a common ingredient in Asian cooking, but are now found in foods internationally. You can use either fresh or dried shiitakes. If using dried shiitakes, rehydrate them before adding to the soup.
Shiitake is probably most noted for its immune boosting function. This combined with other medicinal compounds have made shiitake a favored medicinal for those with cancer, especially prostate and breast cancers. Shiitake is also building and nourishing to the whole body. It’s most appreciated for promoting a long, healthy life.
You can purchase reishi in dried slices. Throw a few of these slices right into the pot and boil up with the other ingredients. The longer it boils, the better. It has a bitter flavor, but will not effect the overall taste of the soup by much. Since the root is quite tough, you will want to remove it prior to serving.
Reishi has a long tradition of use. It’s known as an elixir of life. Reishi, similar to many of the medicinal mushrooms is beneficial for both the immune system and to help prevent cancer. It’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and benefits the liver. This is an exceptional herb for those experiencing stress, anxiety and insomnia.
When you purchase astragalus root, it is sliced into tongue depressor-shaped pieces. Simply add 3-4 pieces to the boiling soup pot. The taste is slightly sweet, yet mild so it won’t be detected in the soup’s flavor. Due to the tough fiber texture, it’s best to remove the root pieces before serving.
Astragalus is known as one of the best medicinals for boosting the immune system. It’s highly recommended for recovery from chronic illnesses and for those convalescing. It can be used safely long-term as an immune tonic. This makes it excellent for prevention of illnesses as well.
This large-leaved plant grows nearly everywhere in the world. It can be easily harvested, although it’s readily available now in many stores. Burdock has a long taproot. It’s similar in appearance to the shape of a carrot although brown on the outside and white on the inside. Use it in soups the same way you would use carrots.
Burdock is useful for feeding and nourishing the liver as well as cleansing the blood. It helps to release toxins from the body. Since toxins in our system can have a negative effect on our skin, burdock is known as one of the best skin clearing remedies. Burdock also feeds beneficial gut microbes for improved digestion.
Dandelion Root and Greens
Nearly everyone knows what a dandelion looks like. Many of us have quick and easy access to this plant. Both the root and leaves can be used in soups. They are much less bitter if harvested in the spring. The chopped roots can be boiled and the leaves are added at the end of cooking.
Dandelion roots are one of the best herbs for feeding and nourishing the liver. It has beneficial healing qualities as well for livers that have been compromised. Dandelion root also works on the gall bladder. This is an excellent herb for improving digestive function overall due to the bitter compounds. Dandelion leaves are also helpful in this way, but they have more of an affinity for the kidneys.
It’s best to use fresh nettles if they are in season. Since they grow readily in nearly all parts of the world, you can often harvest them yourself. Simply chop and add them to the pot. It’s important to cook them for at least 10 minutes to eliminate the effects of the stinging hairs.
This is one of the most nutritious herbs available to us. They are far more nutrient-dense than any food we consume. This makes them important for those who are depleted. They are also another great liver and kidney remedy. They feed and nourish just about every part of the body.
Thyme and Oregano
Thyme and oregano can be found in almost any kitchen. These are the culinary seasonings we add to many foods, including soups. Their flavors will not be new to you, however, you may not be aware of their medicinal benefits.
Both have antibacterial activity that can help keep us well. During colds and flu, they are helpful for the respiratory system in particular. Be sure to add them at the end of cooking for best results.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. If you would like to learn more about herbal medicine, check out the Home Herb School at www.homeherbschool.com