Soups for the Body with Spice for the Soul

Just about every grandmother has her own special soup recipe for times of sickness. Soups have a lot to recommend them. They’re easy on the stomach and easy to digest—good news when you’re feeling too sick to eat. And they provide nutrients that your body needs in order to recover.

Chicken soup, also known as Jewish penicillin, is the ultimate home remedy for colds. But it’s not the only healing soup. In China, hot-and-sour soup is used to break up congestion. Its rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic will get your nose running for sure. Cabbage soup, popular in Eastern Europe, is now being touted as a home remedy for ulcers. Elsewhere in the world, other soup recipes are revered for their health benefits.

India

 

Horse-Gram Soup For High Blood Pressure

In the farming communities of central India, an indigenous crop called horse gram is often prescribed to control high blood pressure. Horse gram is a small oval seed resembling lentils, with the aroma of freshly cut hay. When the seed-bearing pods of horse gram mature, they are picked, dried, and beaten with wooden poles. The seeds are cleaned and sorted.

Kuluth saar, or horse-gram soup, is a light dish with a slightly musty taste. It’s often mixed with yogurt and served with rice. Horse-gram seeds are soaked for eight hours, then left to sprout for another eight hours before they’re simmered in water. Other ingredients include kokum (a small, dark-purple fruit from an evergreen tree) and many cloves of crushed garlic. A tablespoonful of pomegranate seeds, ground into a fine paste, is sometimes added to a cupful of horse-gram soup to help dissolve kidney and bladder stones.

Horse gram can be purchased in most Indian food stores. Of course, if you can’t find horse gram, a plain old bag of lentils will make a fine high-fiber soup.

 

China   

 

Ginkgo Nut Porridge for Jet Lag

Grace Young is a Chinese cook who logs thousands of frequent-flier miles every year. But whenever she returns to her family in San Francisco, there’s a big pot of ginkgo nut porridge on the stove. It’s a late-night snack (siu ye) that helps heal the body from the damaging effects of flying. The ginkgo nuts in this recipe, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are beneficial for relieving coughs and reducing phlegm.

Key ingredients in the soup are dried bean curd (foo jook), unshelled ginkgo nuts (bock guo), and Chinese dried scallops (gawn yu chee), along with a generous helping of finely shredded ginger. Some cooks like to include flank steak as well.

   

Philippines

 

Ginger Chicken Soup for Joint Pain   click here to make your own

Drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid and ibuprofen can ease painful arthritis flare-ups, but why not try this flavorful alternative: ginger soup. Ginger contains gingerol, a compound that blocks the action of prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals that contribute to inflammation. It’s also active against the virus that causes the flu. In the Philippines, ginger chicken soup (chicken tinola) is usually made with green papaya, but you can substitute fresh spinach instead.

 

United States

 

Mom’s Favorite Chicken Soup  click here  to make your own

This could very well be the most popular home remedy ever invented. Recent research shows there’s science behind the folklore: Chicken soup can help prevent white blood cells from triggering inflammation and congestion in the upper airways.

There are many reasons to keep a pot simmering when you have a cold or flu. The rich, steamy broth breaks up congestion, and spicy ingredients such as garlic and onion have mild antiviral properties. To give the soup an extra cold-beating boost, slice a few cloves of garlic and add them to the pot when the soup is almost done.

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