Ayurveda is a medicine system that allows us to stay balanced by living in harmony with the seasons. Of course, that means in the conventional sense, with Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. However, it also means being aligned with the season of our life, and even the time of day. The universal qualities that prevail at any given moment in life need to be delicately balanced with the qualities that are dominant in our bodies and minds during these ‘seasons’.
Winter is known as Vata season in Ayurveda. We see cold, windy, dry, rough, hard, mobile and erratic weather, that leaves us feeling a little out of sorts and uprooted. Darkness dominates, and it feels as if the colour has been stripped from our world. However, the principles of Ayurvedic medicine are perfectly suited to counteracting these qualities before they lead to potential disease. So, we need to think about eating warm, smooth, soft, filling foods that ground us. These offer the right kind of heaviness needed to place our feet firmly back on the ground.
Vata Dosha is responsible for all movement in the body and mind. It regulates the nervous system. During Winter, when there is an increase in Vata Dosha’s qualities, we find ourselves a bit more apprehensive than usual, slightly agitated, and suffering from insomnia, with many thoughts rushing around inside our heads. Our whole being longs to be in the quiet of our warm home. We desire stillness, and the heat that comes from a cosy, inviting log fire.
Soup is the most perfect food for this season. Using root vegetables that are found growing close to the earth literally helps to steady us. Using roots in soups offers all the grounding, earthy, unctuous, warm, heavy, stable and smooth qualities we need. Ayurveda is as concerned with mind and spirit as it is with the body, and foods we choose need to equally soothe our thoughts, and caress our soul.
This recipe is one my good friend shared with me. I made it immediately after she gave it to me; however, I made more than I needed in order to be able to eat it for lunch one day, and supper the next. That’s the great thing about soup; it can be eaten for lunch or supper, in any season, using vegetables that are seasonally available, and it is always satisfying and nutritious.
I love the taste of turnips, and they work brilliantly in this easy soup. The addition of kale offers more seasonal earthiness and an abundance of nutrients to this beautiful meal, making it a deep, velvety, forest green pool of delight for our senses. Above all, it brings us back down to earth and once again feeling rooted.
Try it, you’ll love it.
To serve 4:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
A large onion, peeled and sliced
A garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
2 turnips, trimmed, peeled and diced
A litre of vegetable stock
2 courgettes, trimmed and diced
200g Kale (I love cavolo nero) rinsed and shredded
A handful of freshly chopped dill
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a casserole pan with a lid. Gently fry the onion on a low heat until soft, but not brown. Add the turnips and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes before adding the courgettes. Mix and cook for 5 minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, add the kale, and season to taste. Put the lid on, and simmer for 15 minutes. Once everything is cooked, turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool before blending it in a food processor until smooth.
Serve in heated soup bowls with a sprinkling of the dill, and some fresh bread.
Easy to make, easy to eat, and most of all, seasonally balancing for mind, body and spirit.