There are many reasons that our agni—or digestive fire, in Sanskrti/Ayurveda-speak—can get confused, weak, or even raging out of control such that our true hunger signals don’t come through. We also have little agnis everywhere, in all of our tissue systems and our sense organs, that crave different things in different amounts at different times. Managing all those needs is a full-time job for our master-agni, and if we don’t feed it the right things it might seem like it’s throwing its flames in the air and giving up on you.
Having dealt with a temperamental agni for some time, our relationship has gone through lots of phases. What always helps me get through an agni misunderstanding is something that helps in human misunderstandings, too: I stop talking and listen. I stop throwing different foods and medicines and activities at it as if to say “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?” and let there be some peace and quiet. This might look like meditation, a long walk in the park, a device-free day, or a simple meal.
This celery soup is one way I’ve tried to make space for my agni to speak its truth from underneath a slick of ama. The main ingredient, celery, is often thrown into recipes for flavor and texture, but it’s actually a heavy-duty appetizer and agni-booster, with a robust flavor all its own when not covered up by snazzier foods. Give it a try, and listen closely for your body’s response.
Celery Daikon Soup
- 4 cups celery stalks and leaves, chopped
- 2 cups daikon radish chopped
- 8 oz mushrooms chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Add the celery, daikon, and mushrooms to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Lightly grind the cumin and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, or crush with the back of a knife to release the volatile oils.
- Add the spices to the pot with the vegetables. Stir, and let cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to glisten and the celery is bright green.
- Add 4 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover loosely and let the soup cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.
- Turn off the heat. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or allow to cool slightly before transferring to a high-speed blender. Puree until smooth.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a pinch of cumin or black pepper if desired. For a heartier meal, serve with a scoop of grains or a slice of sourdough bread.