Updated: May 3
I hope you enjoy this Vichyssoise Soup, with a few additions to make it appropriate for Spring by applying Ayurvedic principals for the season!
A little bit of a departure from the traditional Vichyssoise recipe which includes chicken stock and heavy cream, this version has been lightened up and fortified with ingredients that bring in some of the preferred qualities for spring (light, dry, bitter, pungent, warming, and easy to digest).
Romanesco broccoli is part of the cruciferous family which are known for their prebiotic value and the richness of their micronutrient and fibre content, from an Ayurvedic perspective, they generally impart dry, rough, cold qualities. Because of these qualities, they are pacifying for Pitta and Kapha, but can be problematic for Vata if not prepared in a balancing way. In the spring, many individuals feel the effects of accumulated Kapha, and thus many of the protocols call for mitigating Kapha in the system. The process of Kapha clearing from the body is naturally occurring at this time of year due to the effect of increased warmth from the stronger presence of the sun. Just as the sun warms the earth, so it warms the subtle channels of the body as well, Kapha becomes liquid and mobile, and begins to travel out of the deeper tissues and are ready to be cleared from the body. All of the animals are busy in the Spring, even the maple trees are flushing their sap up and down the trunk, releasing its sweet sap when tapped. The sun begins to naturally burn and dry away the stagnant elements. We are drawn to the movements that help us to exist within this natural rhythm. Spring cleaning, preparing our garden beds, getting out for walks and extra time in the therapeutic sunshine. Internally we can also engage with nature by eating the foods that begin to grow at this time, they are produced in such an intelligent manner by nature, they are exactly what is needed at their time of growth. Asparagus, tender leafy greens, fresh herbs sprouting, even edible flowers such as pansies start blossoming. What do these have in common - they contain the bitter quality, one of the best tastes for clearing accumulated Kapha.
With all of that said, we still want to be a bit cautious about sending out blanket seasonal recommendations. For example, some individuals come out of winter feeling an imbalance in the Kapha dosha, but because of the cold nature of winter (especially depending on where you live in the world), some individuals suffer from a lot of cold in the body and Vata imbalance. Some people experience wasting and depletion, some the opposite.
Why is the caution necessary, especially given that there is a flurry of detox and cleansing regimes that seem to be widely promoted in the spring? I understand, many people are ready to just peel off the winter, put on lighter clothing, rejuvenate their skin, and clear away all of the heavy foods that sustained, insulated, and warmed us (gratefully), over the winter. But, drastic measures can have devastating effects for some people. And some of the "detoxes" can seriously undermine the health of the gut, exactly what we want to be stoking and strengthening if we want to be able to naturally expel anything residual in the system. These very restrictive type detoxes can also deplete the nutrition in the deeper layers of tissue, tissue that is not easily nourished in general and which can become subject to deficiency imbalance and dis-ease.
From an Ayurvedic spring cleanse point of view, lets look at the general seasonal spring protocols, which are to include more pungent spices, more bitter ingredients, dryer and lighter foods. These are Kapha imbalance dietary protocols (in part...it is more nuanced than that). What if the individual has experienced a Vata imbalance rather than a Kapha imbalance over the winter? Or perhaps they have imbalances of more than one dosha. These protocols are exactly Vata aggravating recommendations. In fact, it is wonderful to facilitate more Vata in the Spring - it's uplifting, it's mobile, it's the spring feeling. It's the natural movement. But we need to be aware of our individual constitution and our current state of imbalance in order to undertake the appropriate steps toward balancing. In fact, Ayurveda isn't promoting a blanket approach to seasonal protocols. Cleansing therapies related to serious imbalances and dis-ease states are closely facilitated by a qualified practitioner/doctor and are only undertaken after clinical assessment of the individual, which will then dictate the appropriate action.
That said, the general seasonal recommendations can be very useful for the healthy individual who wants to assist the already present process of nature that is happening in their body. By listening to and following the body cues, we can respond to its need at the moment. Starting in the kitchen, listening to the body, and taking a nod from the general recommendations, we can apply what is right for our current situation. Food is a noninvasive, nourishing, and gentle way to approach how we feel in our body-mind. Become aware of your current state, come to understand the signs and symptoms from within. These are your signposts, and the kitchen is a wonderful, enjoyable, therapeutic land of discovery!
Let's choose the kind way that honours our natural processes, aligned with nature. Nourishment will always trump restriction and imposition for long term health and wellbeing, it's the way of balance. Nourish to heal, nourish to flourish.
3 tbsp olive oil
4 medium leeks, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced (Yukon gold work well)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and allow to sweat, continue to saute, stirring occasionally until they are soft and slightly golden.
Add the potatoes, the vegetable stock, and the herbs. Simmer until the potatoes have softened and are cooked through, about 20 minutes depending on the type of potato.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems. Puree the rest of the ingredients into a smooth soup. Season with salt (to taste) and pepper.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, plus micro-greens and edible flowers if desired!
See the video on Instagram @carrie.lavie