Red Lentil Lemongrass Soup
Nature offers all the goodness we need to recover from a long winter. Now that the snow has melted, spring represents the best season to cleanse, detoxify, and rejuvenate ourselves! The majority of plants and herbs found in spring can be utilized in our cuisine to invigorate our bodies, souls, and minds. In nature, spring is a time of renewal and growth. Flowers emerge from the melting snow as the dormant, dark, winter weather is replaced by the cool, damp days of spring. Our bodies assimilate this excess dampness which can lead to increased congestion in the sinuses, lungs, and lymphatic system. Spring colds, coughs, and allergies may leave us feeling sluggish and foggy. Everyone experiences these seasonal influences to some degree, regardless of their constitution or doshic balance or combination. Our bodies are working to shake off the lethargy of winter and prepare for renewal. To assist our bodies’ natural intelligence, we can transition to a diet that will facilitate gentle cleansing and rejuvenation.
Ayurveda believes that opposite qualities will bring balance, and like qualities will create imbalance. Spring is similar to the energy of kapha (cool, damp, slow and heavy). Eating foods that have the opposite qualities (hot, dry, airy and light) will balance the seasonal influence. So during cool, damp weather when you are feeling congested and sluggish, add some foods to your diet with these qualities:
1. Pungent/spicy (garlic, green chilies, ginger, lemongrass, radish, watercress, onion, wasabi).
2. Drying (millet, mushrooms, polenta, barley, white potatoes, winter squash).
3. Light (sprouts, popcorn, beans, lentils).
In general, in this season, you want to minimize foods that are cold, heavy and damp (or that cause fluid retention) such as cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, sour foods (lemons, vinegar), salt, oily fried foods, wheat, refined sugar, and red meat. That said, these lists are neither comprehensive nor rigid. Be creative, flexible and compassionate with your implementation of these guidelines. Ayurveda is about finding balance—if you are unhappy, you are most definitively not in balance.
Try this light and healthful recipe to restore your winterized constitution!
Red Lentil Lemongrass Soup
Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free
The recipe is great for spring. The combination of lemongrass and pippali work together to support the body’s natural capacity to cleanse and rejuvenate. Pippali (also known as Piper longum or Indian long pepper) is a rejuvenating force that supports the respiratory system while soothing the nervous system. It is especially balancing for the energy of both kapha and vata. It is used in Ayurveda to support immunity and fortify the lungs. Lemongrass promotes cleansing of the lymphatic system and is soothing to the body and mind.
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 4 tablespoons ginger lemongrass paste
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1 teaspoon organic pippali powder
- 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, chopped
- 2/3 cups organic red lentils or masoor dal
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (or to taste)
- 4 tablespoons cilantro (or to taste)
- Julienned steamed Swiss chard or mustard leaves (optional garnish)
- In a medium pan, warm the sunflower oil over medium-low heat.
- Add the lemongrass paste, salt, and pippali powder.
- Sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Stir in the tomato.
- Add the lentils and water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or until lentils are soft. The lentils will lose their shape and become somewhat mushy.
- Add the lime juice and cilantro.
- For a creamy consistency, you can purée with an immersion blender.
- Adjust lime juice/cilantro to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Garnish with julienned steamed mustard leaves (which will add more kick to this dish) or steamed Swiss chard.