These last few lazy winter days after the holidays have been rather restorative. Its like my body was waiting to catch up to the slower, inward nature of this season. Spending more time indoors, resting, cooking, reading and exploring new ideas this spicy + comforting soup came to mind. This time of year, we naturally lean towards earthy roots to ground us and provide sustenance. Adding medicinal roots, mushrooms and even dried fruits to broths is an ancient practice we can easily connect with today.
A classic dish with an herbal twist, there’s nothing more nourishing on a cold day than bone broth filled infused with dried reishi and astragalus. These adaptogens are especially great for adding to soups since their flavors can be a bit strong on their own. In traditional folk medicines, herbs were mostly enjoyed in food which helped to prevent sickness. Reishi is a wonderful winter tonic herb prized for its immune building and heart tonic properties. Astragalus root, is also used for its affinity for the heart and immune system and is best used as a preventative herb rather that using while already sick.
Soups are medicinal on their own while also being the perfect vehicle for medicinal herbs. They’re warm, hydrating, easy to digest and even make animal protein easier to digest. Energetically, a spicy bone broth soup like this would be ideal for someone who tends to run cold and dry. The adaptogenic broth is hydrating and soothing to the nervous system while the spices are warming and aid in promoting better circulation. On the other hand, getting heavy handed on the chili powder can be too warming which could lead to being more dry. So start on the mild side with the chilies if you’re usually already warm and add extra fresh cilantro to help balance the spices.
This soup could easily be adapted as a vegetarian dish. Just sub out the bone broth for veggie broth and use hearty chickpeas instead of chicken.
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon chili spices
splash of sherry cooking wine
2 quarts broth, I used bone broth infused with dried reishi + astragalus sticks
1-2 cups tomato puree
2 bay leaves
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
juice from 1 lemon or 2 limes
sea salt + fresh cracked pepper
Watermelon radish, cut into matchsticks
Tortillas, sliced into matchsticks and fried in ghee until golden and crisp
Good olive oil
In a large pot, add a few splashes of broth and warm to medium high heat. When the broth is hot, add the onion and stir and cover. After a minute or so, uncover and stir the onions checking that they are softening, but not burning. After a few minutes, add the garlic and chili spices. If you need a little more liquid in the pot, add a splash of sherry or a little more broth. Stir everything so the spices as incorporated then add your broth, tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a simmer and let the flavors come together for about 10-15 minutes. Next, add in the chicken, lime or lemon juice and let cook for another 5 minutes or so.
While the soup is cooking, this is a great time to prep all your toppings. First, fold the tortillas in half and slice into little matchsticks. Use 1 tortilla per person or serving. Heat a little ghee or coconut oil in a cast iron pan on medium high heat, the gently toss in your tortilla strips. They should get nice and crispy after about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain excess fat by placing on a paper towel or kitchen cloth.
Next, chop the cilantro and matchstick the watermelon radish. I added the radish to a small bowl with a splash of rice vinegar to give a little bite to the crisp + pungent radish.
Taste the soup and add more citrus if it needs it, the add sea salt to taste and a few good cracks of black pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the crispy tortillas, a dollop of tangy greek yogurt, cilantro, watermelon radish and drizzle of good olive oil.
If you’re looking for more nourishing recipes and healing herbs for your unique body, we look forward to connecting over a one-on-one herbal consultation.