October is upon us.
After a summer of intense heat and humidity, a bit of crisp cool air is appreciated. Leaves are starting to turn vibrant shades of orange and red, just as the light of daytime is waning.
For our ancestors, many of whom lived and worked on farms, this was a time of celebration for the bountiful harvest and of preparation for the long cold winter to come.
Traditional Chinese Medicine attributes the transitional period of late summer & early fall to the Earth element and to the Spleen and Stomach meridians and organ systems. This period is seen as the transition from Yang to Yin energy ~ or from brightness, warmth and outward activity to darkness, cold, and inward reflection.
In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach are responsible for the digestion and metabolism of food and fluids, and the creation of our body’s blood and vital energy. Located in our physical center, their meridians also run a central path from head to toe and back again. This season is a call to literally “get centered.”
When the earth organs are out of balance, we may suffer from digestive complaints such as gas, indigestion, bloating, heartburn, loose stools, nausea or vomiting. We also may find that we are more tired and sluggish in the morning and after meals. The emotions associated with these organs are worry and over-thinking. Likewise, an excess of these emotions may cause weakness in these organ systems. Interestingly, our stomach is said to have more serotonin receptors than our brain. It seems that our emotional center is truly in our gut.
We can harmonize with this season by eating more foods that are yellow or orange and from the earth. Cooked foods are best at this time. Think squash, pumpkins, carrots, millet, beets, potatoes, corn, yams, rice, chickpeas, apricots and cantaloupe.
As the earth element relates to our ability to nourish and nurture, this is the time to evaluate our relationships with our self and with others. Are we able to nurture ourselves with good food, sleep and joyful activities? Or do we constantly play the caretaker role with others but fail to care for ourselves? Balance in this area is essential for long-term health.
- 1 yellow onion
- 2-3 medium potatoes – can be russet, yellow, sweet potatoes or yams.
- 4-5 carrots – chopped into 1 inch pieces
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 TBS butter
- 2 TBS (or to taste) Miso Paste – South River makes a great Adzuki Bean Miso
- 6-8 cups water
- 1 head broccoli –can substitute kale or other green veggie
- Optional: add corn, peas, beans, squash or other veggies to your liking
- Herbs de Provence, Salt and Pepper to taste
Chop Onions and Potatoes and saute with olive oil in a large soup pot. As they are cooking, add butter and a little of the water. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Transfer the majority of this mixture to a food processor, and blend with a cup of water until it is a thick liquid. Add this mixture back to the pot with the remaining potatoes and onions and 6-8 cups of water.
Bring soup to a boil and then add chopped carrots. Turn heat down to a simmer and then cook carrots until they are tender. While the carrots are cooking, remove the outer skin of the broccoli stalks and chop stalks into small pieces. Add to soup. Stir in the 2 TBS of Miso.
Once broccoli stalks and carrots are tender, add chopped broccoli florets and turn off the heat. The broccoli will cook from the heat of the soup.
Add salt and pepper to taste. This soup is hearty enough to eat on its own, or may be enjoyed with good bread, cheese and salad.