What should I wear? Should I text first or wait? What’s the meaning of life? What should I make for dinner? These are the questions that plague us humans our whole lives, and I’m happy to tell you all I have the answer: soup. That’s right, my friends. Soup is not only the solution to your meal-planning dilemma, but its essence offers a perspective on how to answer all of life’s seemingly impossible questions.
The decision to make this soup is rarely a predetermined or well thought out one for me. Usually I’ve got a lot on my mind, and a fridge with too many options for me to even have an instinct about what to make. Rather than trying to come up with flavor and texture combinations that go together, or take the time to figure out which flavors and textures would be best for me right then and there, I let the cooking itself do that for me.
As I chop my ingredients into small, but not perfect pieces, I settle my body into a rhythm, and my gaze onto objects that do not glow and have not been manufactured but rather were grown from the earth. As I gradually add them to the pot, they always seem to be done cooking just as the next batch of ingredients is ready to be mixed in. When I put the lid on, I can release my need to control or check what’s going on there—it’s all taken care of, I can tidy up my kitchen (which doesn’t take long, since the meal is so easy and low-waste waste to make), set my table, and enjoy the aromas as they waft through the house, whetting my appetite and bringing me back down to earth. Best of all, sitting down to eat it with a scoop of toppings makes me feel like I’m at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health—where I spent many mornings gazing out the window at the fog-tipped mountains, a bowl of soup from the Buddha Bar just like this before me to set the foundation for my day.
The nourishment of this soup has less to do with the ingredients (though they are pretty darn healthy, with a balance of all six tastes, a texture that’s easy to digest but also supportive to the agni, and herbs that boost immunity, calm the mind, and restore the spirit) and more to do with the atmosphere they conjure. It reminds me I don’t have to try so hard to be enough, which is a good thing to remember when cooking, getting dressed, dating, or conversing with God. Completely unpretentious and adaptable, the recipe works with just about any kind of vegetables and spices you’ve got around, or are in the mood for. Think of this as a template, rather than a formula; a compass rather than a map.
I struggled a bit when trying to think of a good name for this soup. Notions of “all-in-one,” or “kitchen sink,” or even “green soup” came to mind, none of which were quite right or even really accurate (there’s nothing in life that’s all-in-one, I’m not cooking anything in my kitchen sink, and green soup makes me think of juice cleanses—to which I say no thank you—and this soup is a lot more pink than green). I landed on “Ayurvedic Vegetable Soup” because of how it embodies the multifaceted approach to health that Ayurveda teaches. Sure, the herbs and main ingredients show up a lot in Ayurvedic contexts, but all food is technically Ayurvedic—when you’re eating it with intention. In providing a space for me to remember that the solutions to my problems are much easier than I think they are, this soup is the quintessential Ayurvedic meal. Make it your own, and feed yourself with love.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot chopped
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger grated
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme plus more for garnish
- 6 cups chopped root vegetables beet, parsnip, carrot shown
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup white basmati rice rinsed
- ½ tablespoon dried nettles optional
- ½ tablespoon reishi powder optional
- 1 sheet kombu torn into small pieces (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mineral salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 cups chopped greens Lacinato kale and Swiss chard shown
- Fresh cilantro lemon juice, tamarind sauce, avocado, chopped almonds, and/or tahini, to serve
- Combine the oil, shallow, ginger, and garlic in a large pot over low heat. Cook for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the cumin, turmeric, and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Add the root vegetables, stir to coat in the spices and oil, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the vegetable broth, rice, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the nettles and reishi (if using), salt, and pepper. Lastly, add the greens, give everything a good stir, cover the pot, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the root vegetables are very soft.
- Remove from heat and divine into bowls. Garnish with any toppings or additional spices, as desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.