Winter Jing Tonic Cabbage Soup
Winter is the ideal time to nourish what Chinese Medicine calls the Kidney energy, associated with the deepest level of body energy, Jing/Essence.
Winter Storage in Chinese Medicine
Winter is the season in ancient Chinese philosophy associated with storage, when the essences of the previous year are distilled into wisdom. Not surprisingly, even in European literature and poetry, winter, then, is a metaphor for old age, if is the final season in the cycle of birth and death. The goal of life is wisdom, the goal of the agricultural year is to have stored enough food to survive winter. Winter is the time to mend your nets and sharpen your plough. There is no harvest of crops in Winter, and there is less outdoor time altogether, both due to cold and due to short days and long nights. In a natural life we are forced to store in Winter, and the storage of Qi in our body happens in the Kidney Yin and Jing. Jing is essence, the source of all reproductive energy. And reproduction is to make new, which in the year, is spring. We store the rain in winter and early spring, the ground absorbs it and in Spring new life comes, just as the sheep give birth to lambs and the desert to wildflowers does.
Role of Vegetables in Chinese Medicine Nutrition
One of the vegetables that kept well in the temperate winter, both in its fresh and preserved states, was cabbage. Cabbage is a superfood, as valuable as expensive superfoods like Goji berry. Its full of antioxidants, mineral, and vitamins. And it goes very well with any grain and every flesh food. It says in Chinese Medicine, “meat for strength, rice for energy, and vegetables to keep everything clean.” Vegetables keep the body clean both by keeping the digestive tract contents moving, because they are “light” and full of fiber, and also because they provide minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Cabbage is an inexpensive and delicious way to balance the heavy nature of flesh foods year round, but in Winter I am fond of using cabbage in soups of all kinds. I use it in borsch, in cabbage soup with organic sausage and dill, in Chinese and Japanese soups, and in Indian curries or Sambar.By cooking vegetables in soup, we extract the minerals and vitamins from the vegetables into the broth, which facilitates deep digestion of nutrients, just as we extract the essences of bones when we make bone broth.
Jing Tonics in Chinese Medicine
Here is a soup I made today with what was in the house. I had bought Chicken hearts for my pet dog, who deserves fresh food as much as I do. But we had a very long walk in the cool winter air after the rain, and I felt like soup and I felt like fresh ginger. I knew I had celery, scallions, and cabbage in the frig, and have always loved the use of celery in soup, from the French use of mirepoix, to the sweet and sour fish soup I used get at the Vietnamese restaurant years ago, that had celery, cabbage, pineapple, ginger, onion, and tomato in it.
I decided to capture the celery and cabbage from that soup, and to use the wild salmon I had been planning to broil, but to start out with some chicken hearts, because I also felt like the uplifting energy of chicken. I have been working and exercising very hard lately, so I decided, being winter, to add some shrimp which I had in the freezer, crustaceans and shellfish being very find Kidney and Jing tonics, because they themselves have already extracted the essence of ocean water. All the Jing tonics in Chinese medicine have some kind of richness to them, are high in minerals, and often have some kind of gelatinous quality, from dark fruits to dark green veggies to organ meats to things that live in the sea, especially at the bottom. Many Jing and Kidney tonics, like organ meat and sea food, are quite warming, even hot, and must be used judiciously or not at all by people with pathological heat disorders, like eczema and hives. On the other hand they are ideal for people who are naturally weak, like Vata types in Ayurveda, or who have weak Kidney energy manifesting as weak libido or impotence. That is why you often hear of oysters and scallops being consumed my men wishing to improve sexual performance.
Winter Jing Tonic Cabbage Soup
2.5 qts. water
⅓ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cabbage
¾ cup chopped scallion
4 large slices ginger root, or an equivalent amount grated
1/4 cup dried mushroom—shiitake, wood ear, or any dried mushroom
4 inch piece of kombu or wakame sea vegetable
8 chicken hearts, or an equivalent small amount of chicken meat, like 4-5 neck bones
½ cup small cooked shrimp
1 filet of wild salmon, around 6 inches long
1/4 cup rice wine for cooking, or sake
2 tbsp chick pea or mellow white miso paste.
Wash the dried mushrooms and place them in large saucepan with the water.
Add chicken hearts, celery, ½ of the scallions, ½ the cabbage, ginger, and seaweed, and bring to a boil.
Keep at a low boil, covered, and after 15 minutes or so add the salmon. No need to cut the salmon to pieces, allow it to cook in 1 piece
Simmer for 10 minutes
Now add the remainder of the cabbage and scallions, along with the shrimp and rice wine.
Continue to simmer for a minute while you place a few tbsp of the broth along with the miso paste in a cup and whisk,
so that the miso paste will mix well into the soup.
Now add this whisked miso paste to the soup and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the miso is cooked.
When the miso is cooked the soup color will change a bit.
Enjoy with rice, noodles, or by itself.
copyright eyton shalom, january 2017 san diego, ca all rights reserved use with permission