You’ve already learned that in the 18th-century hot chocolate was considered a popular cold remedy. But what about preventative medicine? Today we’ll explore the centuries-old healing powers of herbs and spices and serve up two delicious soup recipes from Executive Chef Rhys Lewis that will do more than just fill your belly. Whether you’re looking to boost your metabolism (cardamom), detoxify (cilantro), or soothe indigestion (mint) we have a source—straight from nature—that can help.
The Healing Powers of Spices, Herbs, Vegetables & Legumes
Check out the health benefits for the spices, herbs, and vegetables featured in our Spiced Garden Vegetable Stew with Red Lentil Basmati Rice and Sweet Potato & Celeriac Soup and then keep scrolling for the recipes.
Cardamom is a metabolic booster, containing a volatile oil (Cineol) helps break up chest congestion, aiding in the treatment of bronchitis. Cardamom is also effective against H. pylori the bacteria that causes ulcers. Studies show that cardamom can maintain healthy circulation, preventing free radical damage that leads to stroke and atherosclerosis.
Detoxifying, anti-bacterial, and contains immune-enhancing essential oils. Cilantro can help remove heavy metals from the body. It aids in digestion, fights nausea and stomach cramps, and balances blood sugar levels. It also contains antioxidants!
Coriander is valued for its anti-inflammatory properties. It lowers cholesterol, stimulates the appetite, and increases gastric juices which aids in digestion. Coriander has shown antibacterial properties effective against salmonella, E-Coli and, and MRSA. Recent studies suggest that coriander may lower the risk for neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Curcumin reduces the buildup of Amyloid-b, that causes free radical damage.
The seeds soothe and protects the digestive track from free radical damage. The seeds are rich in diosgenin (a plant estrogen) and may boost a women’s vitality during menopause by easing hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia. This is all in addition to its anti-cancer effects.
Anti Inflammatory (curcumin)
Prevents the buildup of plaque in the arteries
Reduces arthritis, treats inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), and protects against diabetes
In laboratory studies curcumin has shown to stop the growth of cancer cells
Menthol, the active oil in mint, contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties. This makes it a good choice for relieving indigestion and irritable bowels.
The Sulfur compounds in onions (including Thiosulfates Sulfides and Sulfoxides) are responsible for their powerful antibacterial and antiviral action as well as their unique taste!
Onions are a good source of quercetin. This flavonoid helps prevent heart disease by preventing blood clots and cholesterol from sticking to arterial walls.
Lentils of all types are high in molybdenum and iron, making them an excellent source for helping to oxygenate the blood and aid in the release of cellular energy. The fiber they contain helps keep cholesterol at healthy levels. Lentils also contain vitamin B, aiding in the maintenance of the nervous system.
Spiced Garden Vegetable Stew
with Red Lentil Basmati Rice
This chunky, hearty stew features nine healing ingredients and not only looks delicious, it tastes amazing! The various herbs create a complexity of flavor that will blow your dinner guests away. But don’t let this fool you, the dish is actually quite simple and the ingredient list far outweighs the instruction steps.
Do something good for yourself, your family, or your friends—make them this delicious, warming, healing soup. And let us know how it goes.
- 2 oz butter
- 1 spanish onion, peeled, diced ½ inch
- 1 head cauliflower, core removed, cut into florets, blanched
- ½ pound string beans, stemmed, blanched
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled, diced ½ inch
- 1 large zucchini, diced ½ inch
- ½ pound new potatoes, cooked, sliced
- 1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled, chopped fine
- 1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled, chopped fine
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. coriander, ground
- 2 tsp. fenugreek, crushed
- 2 tsp. cardamom pods, ground
- 2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
- ½ cup stock of choice
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 4-6 sprigs fresh mint, stemmed chopped
- kosher salt to taste
- ½ cup red lentils, soaked in water
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
- kosher salt to taste
- Melt the butter in a large heavy bottom pan and sauté the spanish onions until tender over medium low heat.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini and allow to cook 4-5 minutes.
- Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cardamom pods, and cinnamon and allow to cook 2-3 minutes to release their aromas.
- Add the blanched cauliflower, and green beans, and potatoes with the stock of choice to aid in warming the vegetables.
- Add the coconut milk and heavy cream, allowing the liquid to reduce to the desirable state
- Season to taste, chop and garnish with fresh mint, and serve with the red lentil basmati rice.
- Melt the butter in the bottom of a small sauce pot and add the rice stirring to coat the kernels.
- Add the stock of choice, bay leaf and season to taste and simmer slowly stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Simmer until the rice is ⅔ of the way cooked and add the soaked red lentils, and finish cooking when the rice is tender.
- Reserve in a warm place
Sweet Potato & Celeriac Soup
Another delicious, fresh, soup recipe filled to the brim with healing ingredients. Have you heard of celeriac? I certainly hadn’t, but it is worth seeking out. The root, combined with the apple, adds a fantastic texture to the dish and proves to be so much more than just a “garnish.”
- 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch dice
- 1 large onion, peeled, diced into ½ inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed & chopped
- 1 tsp. coriander, ground
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. chili flakes
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 qts rich chicken stock
- 1 celeriac, peeled, 1 cup julienned and the remainder diced ½ inch
- 1 granny smith apple
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 4-5 Sprigs Cilantro, stemmed
- ½ Lemon, squeezed for juice
- 2 oz Butter for cooking
- Melt the butter in the bottom of soup pot and add the onions, celeriac and sweet potatoes, and sweat until tender, covered over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf and cook 1 -2 more minutes without browning.
- Add the coriander, turmeric and chili flakes and cook 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Blend the soup in a blender until smooth and season to taste, Reserve in a warm place.
- Blanch the celeriac julienne in simmering water until just tender, and shock in cold water, drain and reserve.
- Peel the granny smith apple and cut it julienne and add it to the celeriac.
- Combine the yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice in a separate bowl and toss in the apple and celeriac.
- Season to taste.
- Ladle a portion of the Sweet Potato & Celeriac Soup into the desired serving bowl, and place a spoon full of the Apple Celeriac mixture to garnish.
Did you learn anything new? We’d love to see your photos if you try these! Tag your photos with #makinghistoryblog