The chillier autumn season is upon us and my favourite soup is calling. I should really have a proper name for it. I think I will call it “Star Anise and Shitake Mushroom Soup” because these are my two favourite ingredients.
Next time you make a roast chicken, save the bones and make a chicken stock to make the naturally delicious base for this soup. Homemade chicken stock cannot be beaten in terms of taste or health benefits. Traditional chicken stock has been called “Jewish Penicillin” and is a wonderful convalescence food, rich in healing amino acids.
This soup is made with the purpose of supporting the immune system – in a very scrumptious way. It is also happens to be very simple. The spices are fresh ginger, star anise and a chilli pepper.
Ginger is antiviral and a warming circulatory stimulant. Perfect for colder nights. It is also reduces inflammatory makers in the colon, suggesting it may be protective against colon cancer. For a great summary of other health benefits of ginger see here.
Star anise is a stunning seed from an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and southwest China. About 90% of the world’s crop is owned by pharmaceutical giant Roche in order to obtain a key ingredient, shikimic acid, for the manufacturing of anti-influenza drug, Tamiflu. It is a sweet and warming spice which contrasts with the salty Tamari soy sauce in this recipe.
I add a whole large hot chilli for extra heat and thermogenisis. Chilli or capsicum is a circulatory stimulant and also a mucolytic, which means that it breaks up mucus, making it harder for pathogens to multiply in the respiratory tract.
There are many medicinal mushrooms and shitake are my favourite – for cooking anyway. Studies have showed that they support immune function and have cancer-protection properties. Well-cooked mushrooms are a good source of protein and add a lovely texture to this soup.
The bamboo shoots are protective against endotoxins (fragments of bacteria from the digestive tract that break off and enter the blood stream having a detrimental effect systemically) and the chinese greens (or pak choi) are a great source of folate and calcium.
You don’t need to make the soup with all this in mind but we should be mindful that food is a gift and has a dual purpose of pleasure and protection.
The “why’s” a “how’s” are over (although I could go on) and now onto the recipe:
Left over chicken from the roast or chicken pieces to fry
Pak choi 200g
Shitake mushrooms 120g
One tin of bamboo shoots
One large hot chilli
5 star anise
1.5 inch square raw ginger root
Gluten free tamari soya sauce
Toasted sesame seed oil 1/2 tsp
400ml chicken stock (approx’)
Salt to taste
Heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a saucepan and fry the star anise and ginger for a couple of minutes. If the chicken is raw, slice into pieces, add to pan and fry for a few minutes. Wash and de-stalk the mushrooms, add in whole or slice in half, slice the pak choi across the way and add. Saute it all for a few minutes then add approx one dessert spoon of tamari soy sauce. Pour in the chicken stock and add the whole chilli and drained bamboo shoots. Stab it a few times with a knife to release the flavour as it cooks. Bring to a boil and then simmer for half an hour. If there is too much fluid simmer with the lid off for a while. At the end of cooking add half a teaspoon of toasted sesame seed oil. Add another dessertspoon of soy sauce and salt to taste.
Meanwhile cook some organic white basmati rice separately and put a nice round serving of rice in each bowl. Enjoy!
Good manners: the noises you don’t make when you’re eating soup.
For other winter aids see here:
For a very lovely hot toddy if you are a little under the weather just want something comforting and warming.
If you have a horrible winter cough:
And some people maintain that this recipe has stopped them having a cold for years!