SOUPS FOR SUMMER? IT’S MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK
You’ll Want To Stay Cool & Healthy In Summer With These
Usually when you think about soup, you probably picture being curled up in a blanket on a cool fall day with a mug of steaming soup. But what about soups for summer time? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these are a staple dish for hot weather.
In fact, food in general is a major treatment in TCM. That’s because the foods and beverages we consume can alter our yin, yang, and qi energies, making a big difference in how we feel. When all of our energies are in harmony and we’re in balance with the natural world, we feel healthier and happier. So before you write off summer soups, read on to find out how they can help keep you cool and healthy in the dog days of summer.
Soups In Summer? Here’s Why It’s A Good Idea
In TCM, foods can have one of 5 “natures” or temperatures: hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. We all have natural inclinations toward being warm or cool, but things like the seasons, our lifestyles, and if we’re sick can raise or lower our internal temperature.We can also change our temperatures by switching up our diets and incorporating more foods with cold or hot natures, depending on our goals.
In the summer, it’s easy to overheat. So to counteract that, there are summer soups made with cooling ingredients. These kinds of recipes help our bodies cope with the transition from cool weather to hot weather and keep our internal temps low. Many cooling foods are also hydrating, so it helps to restore all that lost moisture from sweating it out in the summer.
Here are some general food rules to follow in the summer to keep cool:
- Try to incorporate more yin-filled foods, which tend to be cooling and hydrating. Fruits and veggies like cucumbers, strawberries, and watermelon tend to have lots of yin energy. For protein, try seafood.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water so you don’t dehydrate. For an extra cooling factor, you can drink tea made from peppermint, a cool herb.
- Try to cook your foods as little as possible. Raw and fresh foods are best, and it’s a good idea to avoid fried food in the summer months.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Avoid eating big meals that make you feel uncomfortably full. Try having lunch be your biggest meal.
Summer Soups To Try
Mung Bean Soup
Mung beans are a major ingredient in both Chinese cooking and TCM. You can find these little green beans in noodles, cakes, rice dishes, and, of course, soups. They’re low in calories but are packed with protein and nutrients like amino acids and antioxidants. There’s some evidence that they can help reduce or avoid heat stroke, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants which protect our cells from heat-related damage.
Sweet mung bean soup is a very popular summer dessert in places like Canton and Hong Kong. Having a cold dessert soup might sound strange to westerners, but it’s popular for a reason! Mung beans are considered to be a cooling ingredient, so this soup helps you recover from the summer heat. And best of all, it’s super easy to make! You can easily adjust the recipe and proportions to your taste, so play around with it to see what you like best.
Sweet and Simple Mung Bean Soup
- 1 cup of mung beans
- 8-12 cups of water, depending on the consistency you’re going for
- tablespoons of sugar, but you can add more or less according to your taste
- Rinse the mung beans under cool water, then let them soak in water for about an hour.
- After the beans are done soaking, put all the ingredients together in a pot and bring them to a boil.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Let the soup cool to room temperature then refrigerate.
Chilled Cucumber Soup
Cucumbers are yin-filled and super hydrating, so TCM practitioners suggest their patients stock up on this refreshing veggie in the summers. You can eat them raw, juice them, or make soup with them. All you need is a blender!
Chilled Cucumber Soup
- 4 cups of chopped cucumber
- 2 cups water or broth (veggie works well here, but if you’re looking for something more savory, chicken stock is a good option)
- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 clove garlic
- 4-5 fresh mint leaves
- Place all of the ingredients in your blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Place in the refrigerator until chilled.
Like mung beans, cucumbers don’t have many calories but pack a big nutritional punch. Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, cucumbers are also 96% water, so they’re perfect for rehydrating after a long summer day. To get the most benefits from your cucumbers, don’t peel them before you eat them or you’ll be tossing most of the nutrients in the garbage.
Winter Melon Soup
Many westerners have probably never heard of winter melon, but it’s a popular fruit in east Asia. It’s got a light, refreshing taste and blends well with lots of other flavors. Despite the name, winter melons are grown in summer, so they’re a fresh, seasonal choice for summer soups. In TCM, winter melons are known for being packed with cooling yin energy. They’re also full of vitamins and nutrients like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, and fiber to help with your digestion. More studies need to be done, but there’s some evidence that winter melon can help lower inflammation and prevent ulcers.
Winter Melon Soup
- 1/2 pound winter melon
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 2-3 slices of ginger
- 1/4 cup diced cooked ham
- 1 green onion
- Wash and peel the winter melon. Cut it in half and remove any seeds or pulp. Chop the remaining pieces into 2 inch sections.
- Boil the winter melon for about 20 minutes, or until it’s fork-tender.
- Rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms by placing them in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes. Once they’re reconstituted, squeeze out the excess water and put them aside.
- Add the mushrooms, broth, ginger, and ham to the winter melon pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer for 20 minutes, 60 if you are going for the medicinal value of the shitaki mushrooms.
- Thinly slice the green section of the green onion and use slices as a garnish on top of the soup.