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  • Writer's pictureRachel Faiella

Happy Holiday Soups for Every Yogi

Updated: Jan 26, 2018

Winter is here, so let it snow, let it snow! Last year, at this time, I was sweating it out (emotionally, physically, and mentally) in a Yoga teacher training in Kerala, Southern India, so Christmas whizzed by without our much noticing it had come and gone, and by the time we got back to Europe, there was only a month of cold before spring waltzed in.

This year, however, my body will be enduring the entire, harsh Polish winter, and, frankly, my body is not liking it much already. Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to get to February in one piece (a brief trip to my beloved Italy in January will provide wonderful awesomeness, but other than that, no sun in sight). In winter, what I feel mostly is general tightness and dryness. With the cold, my body clams up, and asanas that usually come effortlessly during my personal yoga practice feel forced and take lots of patience and endurance for me to come into. I’ll often stick to milder versions of very stretchy poses in winter, mostly because my body just won’t open as easily as it does when it’s warm and my tendons and joints are more juicy. I am not quite sure why winter makes me so tight, but it may be that my inner body is quite dry from heating, and my muscles and joints are simply colder and more stiff than in summer. For me, flexibility is also psychological. I think in winter I am less open to the world, so my body follows pursuit.

Whatever the reason, I find that in winter, my body craves warm, smooth foods, less raw foods and fruit than in summer.

This makes perfect sense and really is the healthy way to eat in winter. I personally have been feeling much better and much more flexible since I’ve started to stick to warm soups, compot, baked fruit, high energy smoothies with lots of goji berries, cooked vegetables, and litres of warm water with a teaspoon of ground ginger to keep my inner fire a bit higher. I’ve also started taking more omega 3, chondotroitin, MSM, and glucosamine (Swanson does a wonderful trio supplement of those last three, I’ve been taking that one and it’s fantastic) to increase the fluidity of my joints and connective tissues.

Here are some of favorite recipes for winter soups I usually make enough for a few days and then keep it in the fridge so I can run to the soup when I feel the need for it.

Mixed Vegetable Soup

This is probably my absolute favorite soup for cold winter days

2 Zucchini

2 Potatoes

1 sweet potato

1 head of broccoli

3-4 carrots

300 grams of pumpkin

half an onion, a piece of celery

1 cup of peas

1 stick of fresh rosemary

3 laurel leaves

1 stick of fresh sage

1 stick of fresh thyme

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 star of anise

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg

4 tbsp of olive oil

1/4 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup of soya cream

Chop all the vegetables and place them in a large pot with the rosemary, laurel leaves, anise, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the vegetables, then add two cups more. You can add a square of vegetable broth if you would like more taste, I often don’t use it, but if you want to use it, it’s ok.

Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure it doesn’t burn. When the vegetables are soft, add the thyme and sage, remove the laurel leaves, and cream the soup with a wand blender. If you don’t have a wand blender, turn the soup off and cool it for about an hour or two (go practice your yoga). Then, place it in your regular blender and cream it.

Add sat and pepper to taste, the olive oil, and soya cream.

Serve hot with roasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled over the top.

Stufato di Rape e lenticchie (Beet and Lentil stew)

This is a fantastic, vegetarian version of the classic meat stew that is common throughout the countryside of Italy and France, it has a wonderfully intense taste and the beets give it a lovely, deep color and texture.

Beet root 350 g (about 3)

Lentils 180 g

Baby onions 170 g

Carrots 200 g

Garlic 1 clove

Fresh ginger (about a thunb size piece)

Rosemary 1 stick

Laurel 5 leaves

Cinnamon 1 stick the length of your finger

Red wine 125 g

Water about 700 g

Olive oil 25 g

Butter 40 g

Fresh thyme (a few sticks)

Salt and pepper to taste

First, take the rosemary, laurel and cinnamon, make a bundle and tie them with a piece of thick string.

Peel and chop the beet root, onions, carrots. (the beet root should be bigger chunks)

Place the olive oil into a thick iron pot and heat it a for half a minute, then add the crushed garlic clove, the bundle of herbs, the chopped carrots, onions and beet root and fry a bit

Add the lentils and continue to fry it for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly

Add the wine and stir till it evaporates

Now add the water (it should cover the stew abundantly)

Turn the flame to very low and cover the pot, leave it on the low fire for about 2 hours, checking every once in a while and stirring a bit (I usually go and practice my yoga while it cooks)

When the beets are soft enough to put a fork through them and the stew is nice and thick, turn off the fire, remove the bundle of herbs, add the thyme, butter and then salt and pepper to taste

Serve the stew hot with whole wheat bread or with Polenta or just on its own as a delicious winter delight

Creamy pumpkin soup (without cream)

600 g of fresh pumpkin (peeled and chopped)

4 potatoes (peeled and chopped)

About 1 litre of water (enough to cover the pumpkin, plus 1 cup)

1 tsp  of ground cinnamon

1 stick of rosemary

1 stick of thyme

1 tsp of ground ginger

1/4 tsp of ground cloves

1 star of anise

(optional: 125 ml of soya cream)

3 Tbsp olive oil

salt, pepper to taste

1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

(also, you can make some croutons with old bread if you have some)

Place the oil, pumpkin, potatoes, spices and water in a large pot and bring to a boil Lower the flame after it boils and continue to cook the soup for 30 to 45 minutes (or till the pumpkin is very soft). Add salt and pepper to taste, olive oil, and the soya cream. Using a soup blender, blend the soup well till it’s creamy. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve hot with croutons.

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