The weather forecast predicted that there would be snow today, but I didn’t believe it. After the cold winter we’ve had I thought that we had seen the last of snow, but it seems we are not so fortunate. This cold weather prompted me to make a nourishing warming soup, with ginger as the highlight.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is both a great plant to use in cooking and medicinally. It has such a unique flavour and can add subtle heat to a dish. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols which give ginger its pungent taste and is responsible for many of the medicinal properties. Medicinally, ginger has a variety of different actions. One of the more widely known benefits of ginger is its ability to act as an antiemetic (reduces nausea and vomiting). This is beneficial for reducing motion sickness as well as morning sickness. Ginger can actually act as an abortifacient in large quantities. Therefore, pregnant women shouldn’t exceed 2 grams of ginger a day and should be cautious when consuming ginger.
The digestive system can benefit from ginger. It acts as a digestive stimulant, helping individuals who have weak digestion. This plant can increase blood flow to the digestive tract, normalize peristalsis, and help relax smooth muscles. This leads to some relief from intestinal gas buildup, and stimulates the release of enzymes involved in digestion.
Gingerols have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can help decrease pain and increase mobility in arthritis sufferers. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger.
The root of the ginger plants contains the medicinal benefits and is the part that is used in cooking. I was surprised to learn when I was in Hawaii that the flowers are beautiful. The flowers of the ginger plant can vary between a brilliant red to white. The picture below is the yellow ginger plant that I came across. I was told that this particular specifies is invasive, and not a welcome addition in Hawaii.
The recipe below is to make a lovely ginger and kale soup. You can adjust the recipe to your tastes and add or omit items to taste and availability. For instance if you don’t have kale you could try adding spinach or even parsley. Potatoes could be added for an interesting texture. Soups are quite forgiving.
• 1/2 white onion (chopped)
• 2 carrots (chopped)
• 1 cup lentils (you can try quinoa instead)
• 6 cups organic vegetable broth or ideally use homemade broth (If you are buying stock, look for gluten and dairy free if you have sensitivities. Chicken broth can be substituted for vegetable broth)
• 2 tbsp grated ginger
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tbsp oil
• 1/2 bunch kale, remove the stems, finely chop
• 1-2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp dried basil (You can also try a blend of rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme)
• salt and pepper to taste
1) Roughly chop the onions to your desired size. Dice the carrots into cube sized pieces.
2) Peel and crush the garlic. Peel the skin off of the ginger and grate the ginger against the small holes of a cheese grater. The skin of ginger is quite delicate and can be peeled using a small spoon.
3) Sauté the onions and carrots in oil of your choice until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves and lentils (or quinoa). Let everything come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Wash, chop and de-stem kale. Stir kale into soup then cover for 4-5 minutes.
6) Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve!
Note: This soup doesn’t provide an individual with a large dose of ginger, but if you are taking ginger as a tea or in a more concentrated form, certain individuals should be cautious. Individuals who have gallstones should be cautious consuming ginger. If you are on certain medications such as anticoagulants then you should contact your naturopath before taking ginger as a supplement.
If you have morning sickness or other pregnancy related complaints you want help with, book an appointment with me to discuss your concerns.