There’s nothing like an ice-cold glass of water on a hot summer day…unless you’re like me, and/or you follow an Ayurvedic diet, in which case even the worst case of overheating doesn’t warrant drinking a cold beverage. Over the course of the last year, I’ve been getting to know my vata dosha (thanks to the wise counsel and friendship of Kiera Nachman at Sundra Holistic) and realize that a warm(-ish), grounding diet and lifestyle is what I need all year round. Otherwise, I get something like this. This choice often comes with looks of shock and horror from friends when, for instance, I order a bowl of steaming hot soup for dinner on a day when the temperature rose over 80 degrees (yes, this actually happened). All that said, there’s a way to find a balance between hot and cold, rich and astringent, which is especially helpful this time of year. During summer, which is pitta or fire season, the body craves cooling and watery foods to help calm the flames of increased daylight, energy, determination and focus. Soup may not be the first thing that comes to find for this purpose, but green soups with a detoxifying base fit juuuuuust right. The past two weeks or so I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Naturally Nourished, the cookbook that came from Sarah Britton’s blog My New Roots. What makes the book so appealing and accessible is its philosophy of simplicity: there aren’t insane ingredients or tools you need to buy online-only, and the dishes often combine neutral bases (like greens and grains) with individual sauces such that leftovers become anything but boring. If you’re like me and think of cooking as more like “assembling,” then this book is for you.
I was immediately drawn to her Detox Soup, which she admits to making as part of a January cleanse but now makes “all the time”; I took this as a cue to mean the week of the summer solstice in late June, aka the opposite of January, too. With the addition of the magic Ayurvedic spice blend—fennel, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and ginger, which when combined stimulate digestion but soothe bloating and inflammation—it became the ultimate in refreshing and purifying meals for summer. I’ve enjoyed it hot and chilled, which adds to the diversity of ways in which you can consider yourself in a state of cooler-than-cool balance this summer, and beyond.
Cooling Detox Soup
- 1 T. olive oil plus more to drizzle
- 1 t. each ground or freshly grated ginger, fennel seed, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt
- 1/2 t. cayenne pepper or to suit taste
- 2 large yellow onions chopped
- 5 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 2 medium sweet potatoes scrubbed and cubed (skins on, unless that grosses you out)
- 3 cups water
- 2-1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Sesame seeds to garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over a medium flame. Add spices and heat for 1 minute. Add onions, and stir to coat in oil and spices. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.2. Add the garlic and potatoes. Stir to coat, then add water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook with cover on, about 15-20 minutes. 3. While the soup is cooking, chop your greens. I like to keep the stems for salads (#zerowaste), but that's up to you. 4. When the potatoes are very soft, add the greens in batches and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Turn off the heat, then let the soup sit for 5 minutes with the cover on to steam the greens. 5. With an immersion blender, blend until the soup is creamy. (If you use a regular blender, wait until the soup is room temperature at least before attempting to blend.)