The Basics: Soup

Herbs of all kinds – including many common kitchen spices – can easily be included in soups and stews. Many of the recipes I’ve included here use soup stock as a basic ingredient. You can purchase soup stock in cans or you can use bouillon cubes.

One way to use immunity-enhancing mushrooms such as reishi and shiitake is to eat them as part of your regular diet. The mushroom soup recipes provided here are thanks to my daughter and fellow herbalist. She says that she has seen soups like these restore vigor and health to adults and children who were weak and ill. It will also benefit your urinary tract, especially if you are prone to a bladder infection. Barley is an old European remedy for this problem, garlic treats infection and mushrooms boost the immune system. I love herbal soups and cannot imagine a tastier way to good health.

mushroom barley soupMushroom Barley Soup

1/4 cup barley

3/4 cup soup stock

2 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons tamari {or 1/4 teaspoon salt}

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 pound fresh medicinal mushrooms {such as shiitake}

Black pepper to taste

Cook barley in soup stock until tender. Add water and tamari. In a separate pan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil. When onions are transparent, add mushrooms. When mushrooms and onions are tender, add them to the barley-tamari mixture. Sprinkle in black pepper, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. For variety, add cooked vegetables of your choice, either chopped or grated.

Chinese Soup

2 ounces Chinese herbs {such as astragalus, ginseng, Rehmannia, codonopsis, ligustrum, burdock and schizandra berries}

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1/8 cup uncooked rice

4 cups soup stock

1 diced carrot

1 beet or 1 turnip diced

1 diced yam

1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, slivered

Place the herbs {including ginger} in a muslin bag or tie them together with a string. Simmer the bag and rice in the soup stock for 1 hour. Add the vegetables and mushrooms to the herbal stew, and simmer gently for another 30 minutes. Remove the bag filled with herbs, and serve the soup. If you use burdock in this soup, it can be finely chopped and need not go in the bag.

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