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the soup that heals

Happy new year to you! Sending all of my big hugs. The time for personal betterment is upon us (as always). But first, some soup.

A snow storm drove us indoors right in the midst of holiday time, so I’ve been going hard with the nesting/self care thing. I love to make a vegetable-heavy soup with miso, shoyu/tamari and ginger when I feel a bit off, whether I’m hungover or just generally space-y. The steamy ritual of it brings me back to earth and offers a bit of reconnection. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; just whatever vegetables you have around, a nice broth and some quiet time to enjoy. A version of it was my breakfast of choice for a while, a blast of perfect silence to get the day rolling.

This particular version follows the theme of intense nourishment. I took every immune-boosting, deep-warming, feel good vibe-inducing ingredient I had and put it into this healthy and delicious bowl of love. You get to hold your head over the pot of fragrant broth while it simmers and deepens in flavour. I’m pretty fond of these pour-over style soups. Get the broth crazy hot, splash it around some finely cut vegetables/precooked noodles etc, and instant comfort is yours for the moment. If you batch-cook some broth, tasty and fortifying lunches are a cinch throughout the week.

There’s a lot going on in the pot and I’m confident that some ingredients can be substituted/left out altogether and you’ll still wind up with something tasty and soothing–very much a freestyle kind of effort. I used shiitake mushrooms (stems + caps), ginger, lemongrass, chilies, miso, tamari, cilantro (stems + leaves), thyme and some other aromatics. Pour that potent and mega hot broth over a tangle of vegetable shreds, garnish with sprouts and herbs, a squeeze of lime, some drops of sesame oil, maybe a dab of sriracha swirled into the mix. The process of it leads to a surprisingly heady food-life experience. Simmer, chop, pour, garnish, breathe it in, spoon lifted, instant calm.

Once you get into it, slurping everything up gives you a lightly sweaty flash of food-induced warmth that feels so good. It’s that deeply restorative, whole body satiation that snaps everything into focus and makes you feel ready. Nourishment and power in the palm of your hands. 2013, bring it.


a magic healing soup
serves:
2
notes: Whatever vegetables you decide to use, make sure they’re sliced up rather finely. You’re depending on the heat of the broth to soften them up, so rustic chunkiness is less desirable in this recipe. A vegetable peeler, which is what I used to make the strands of broccoli stems, is very helpful with achieving fine-ness.

broth:
1 five inch piece of lemongrass, bashed up with the back of your knife
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 onion, quartered
4-5 shiitake mushroom stems (slice the caps for the soup)
1 three inch piece of ginger, sliced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 chili, sliced in half
4-5 sprigs thyme
handful of cilantro stems (save the leaves)
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
2 tsp miso (add at the end of simmering time to preserve nutrients)

to serve:
1-1.5 cups finely sliced vegetables per person (I used carrots, snow peas, broccoli stems and the shiitake caps)
cilantro leaves
sliced green onions
sprouts (I had pea shoots)
toasted sesame oil
sriracha
lime wedges

Make the broth: combine all of the broth ingredients except for the miso in a medium-large sauce pan over medium heat. Pour 5 cups of water over top. Bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour or so (or longer if you want a more concentrated stock). Strain the broth and return it to the pot. Keep the broth hot. Add miso to the pot and stir right before serving

While broth is simmering, you can slice up the vegetables and garnishes.

Arrange vegetables in serving bowls. Pour/ladle hot broth over top. Stir it up a bit. Garnish as you like with herbs, sprouts, sriracha etc.

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sreebindu02/01/2013 - 2:56 am

loving your space, New follower here.wishing u a gorgeous new year ahead :)
xx

thelittleloaf02/01/2013 - 5:35 am

I can’t think of a more perfect way to kick off the New Year than with this soup – absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I’m craving.

Emma Galloway02/01/2013 - 8:04 am

Sounds like one beautiful soup. Book-marking for winter down these ways xx

Erin02/01/2013 - 9:36 am

What a delicious looking soup-plus any soup you can lather in sriracha is a good deal :)

Elizabeth A.02/01/2013 - 11:18 am

Great minds really do think alike! I was planning on whipping up a pot of miso soup today, too. I love this concept of pouring the broth over thin vegetable shreds. Totally doing this.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar02/01/2013 - 11:40 am

This looks fabulous!

Ashlae03/01/2013 - 12:44 am

This is my kinda soul food. Looks delicious, lady – can’t wait to try.

Kathryn03/01/2013 - 6:35 am

I need a big bowl of this soup right now I think – I’m totally craving bright and fresh flavours after the excesses of Christmas.

Dawn @ Florida Coastal Cooking03/01/2013 - 6:53 am

What a pretty soup! We definitely need more healing soups after the holidays.

Hannah04/01/2013 - 1:45 am

Bring it indeed! This looks terrific Laura – can’t wait to give it a go. (Also, that bowl with the punchy red lip is a perfect vessel for showcasing that riot of color! Love it).

vegan miam04/01/2013 - 2:40 am

I am a massive fan of soups. That looks amazinggggggg

sarah04/01/2013 - 1:18 pm

This post made me feel so happy. What a beautiful soup to start the New Year with. Magic, indeed. {Love you to, Ms. Laura! And Happy New Year!}

Gail06/01/2013 - 4:53 pm

January is definitely my vegetable-craving month. Thanks for the guidelines for making this kind of soup; it’s not one I’ve done at home before. Your composition of vegetables on the cutting board is beautiful and really helped me wrap my mind around the ingredient list: I can do this new combo! And soup for breakfast… Mmmm! Most people don’t get it, but some days it is just Right.

Kathryne06/01/2013 - 6:08 pm

Happy new year, Laura. I just can’t get enough of the flavors in this soup this time of your. So pretty.

Sarah | Shine Food07/01/2013 - 1:26 pm

This is exactly my idea of a magically healing soup. I ate a bowl of pho on new year’s day loaded with sprouts, cilantro, and chilies, and thought, “who needs the noodles?” It’s all about that irresistible broth, the snap of fresh vegetables, and the soul-soothing smell.

We’re collecting healthy recipes for this month’s Shine Supper Club, and this recipe would be an amazing contribution. I hope you’ll join us!

Ashley07/01/2013 - 1:33 pm

This NEEDS to happen around our house. The holidays have ended but I’m having a hard time stopping the holiday eating. This looks like the perfect dish to get us back on track.

[…] Since I can’t eat Vietnamese pho on a regular basis, I think I’m going to give this magic healing soup a go.  Anytime you add sriracha, it’s a good […]

[…] Soup to beat the weather – I came across this website a while back. While she uses tempeh etc.. in her recipes which makes me wary I love her ideas. Plus the photography is brilliant. […]

Angie03/02/2013 - 11:25 pm

I made this today and it came out amazing! Thanks for the recipe.

[…] up was this recipe for “A Soup that Heals”. This soup was wonderfully synergistic and packed with […]

[…] a magic healing soup with a side of brown […]

angela byers27/02/2013 - 9:39 am

Looks awesome

R07/03/2013 - 6:00 am

Miso is my savory best friend. I have a couple of tubs in the fridge t all times. It is soup, broth, or tea in a minute. It plays well with friends, can be sweet with tahini, oranges, etc or savory with lime, ginger and tamari. Really! What ever is in the fridge or cupboard.

Lunch yesterday was leftover noodles, mandaline sliced peppers, scallions, apple, boc choy, summer squash, splash of vinegar, hit of pepper. At work I can microwave water till it boils in a big mug, add anything I want to heat, like the noodles and nuke again, add veggies then nuke again. At the table I dissolve the miso and slurp away.

I answer questions in between my slurps and splashing. ( Japanese cooks find the best compliment to be the most vigorous and loudest slurping) My fellow workers are amazed what I swish in the broth and eat, like left over chicken, more veggies, baked tofu, pork or a crust of bread.

Slurp on people! Miso is what you make it!

[…] DINNER: For dinner I usually have 4 ounces or wild salmon with steamed vegetables and quiona, or a small chicken breast with sauteed kale and quiona. If I eat entirely vegan for dinner, I eat the same quiona bowl variation as suggested for lunch. Some nights I will have salmon sashimi or albacore sashimi from a sushi bar and a bowl of clear soup with mushrooms. I really love having a light dinner and having a filling soup. I usually have vegetable soup or I have this soup. […]

Socca pizza80twenty12/03/2013 - 3:33 pm

[…] During this time, I pumped my body full of concentrated garlic and botanicals, ate 4 batches of this healing broth in 3 days (really, Laura), listened to audio lectures when I could focus, and caught up on […]

[…] Wednesday: Cabbage & kale salad and The Soup that Heals […]

onmybike07/06/2013 - 12:00 am

Absolutely love your site, pics, writing and recipes.

The soup is a particular favourite, nice to see it sso well documented, i’ve been making soup this way for a long time, so quick and easy and soooo good. You describe it so well! Here’s my take on it (plus fresh fish which I adore)

http://2tired2cook.blogspot.co.il/2013/02/sweet-pea-soup.html

Keep up the great work!

Mark30/09/2013 - 1:52 am

This was FABULOUS! But, not enough. I should have noticed it served two… I wanted to eat four servings myself

[…] from The First Mess. Makes 2-3 […]

MARIA MAROVICH11/11/2013 - 6:16 pm

a must make!

Carole18/01/2014 - 1:09 pm

Thank you, can’t wait to make this!

HomemadeMother29/01/2014 - 11:39 pm

Made this tonight and it was soooooo good! Thank you for sharing the recipe!!

[…] A Magic Healing Soup […]

[…] Tree Atlas. 4 // This MONK & LOU Rory Cocoon Blazer from Plen+y. 5 // This vegetable laden Magic Healing Soup from The First Mess. Just YUM. 6 // This Mexican Chocolate Sorbet from The Gouda Life. Try […]

Saskija21/05/2014 - 6:28 am

I’ve made this a few times and it gets better with practice. I didn’t have my usual brown rice miso paste until just last night. I made it for the first time with this ingredient and it really made a difference. So good and healing. Thank you!

[…] ‘Magic’ Healing Soup: The food-induced sweat diners experience from this soup helps to break a cold, while satiating the entire body with the taste of lemongrass, chilies, and other aromatics. Don’t believe in magic? You might with a bowl of this soup! See the Recipe Here […]

Melissa11/11/2014 - 11:17 pm

Thank you for this soup! Truly magical. I am so sick & this is the only thing that is saving me!!

a happy holiday ❤


Why? This is an important question to ask of everything you do. In my own life, if it doesn’t make my eyes go wide or bring me some kind of release, it has to go. I try to stay in the light, always inching towards brightness as a way of being. This very basic mantra applies itself easily to work endeavors, relationships, literature and music of choice, what I eat, awareness of my tone of voice at a given time, whether or not to risk driving way over the speed limit in a situation.. You get the idea. I try to move and speak with kindness whenever possible. It makes any confrontation with the big WHY a touch simpler.

The aspect of intention is something I think about often, especially with running this small space. Why a post on one particular recipe or ingredient? What does that say about my space in time? Can people relate? Is that important? Is it accessible? Should I say this? Is it better to say nothing at all? Is an expression of some deeply inner and unusual thing necessary? Is the specification of Mexican oregano douche-y? What is driving the visual component? Maybe that needs to be fleshed out or more inspired? What are we even doing here? …The second that I feel like I’m preaching to the converted or that everything is the same, I want to change it all, move away from the paradigm towards something that feels new and more productive.

So with the guiding idea of kindness and a general desire to dwell in the light, I want to make this space better. I know that I’m unworthy of being in a position of concern over the improvement of a personal and completely unnecessary thing that exists on the internet. It feels ridiculous, now as ever, but it does exist. And if it does exist, it should be as incredible as my own human achievement will allow. So I’ll be letting that thought marinate over the next couple weeks. It’s a mindful powering down in order to power-up sort of effort, if you will (I hope you will).

Be safe and warm over the holidays, friends. I’ll see you in the new year with a smile and something delicious to eat, I promise.

xoxo
Laura

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Winnie21/12/2012 - 1:21 pm

I hope someday that we get to meet…I think we would really get along since I can really relate to everything you said here. Have a happy holiday Laura ;)

Hannah21/12/2012 - 3:46 pm

May gratitude continue to carry you towards that light with grace dear Laura. Have happy holidays and see you on the other side :)

Clare22/12/2012 - 12:50 pm

Striving is the most basic human “why” there is. :) You provide something beautiful, with heart and thought, and that within itself is the closest to a “why” I’ve ever gotten. Happy, happy holidays…

sam23/12/2012 - 12:30 am

I think about intention every single day. It is a guiding principle, but something that I need to be reminded of. The ability to intend and create! Thank you for the beautiful blog post. Happy holidays.

amy23/12/2012 - 11:14 am

peace and luv 2 you, laura! <3
thanks for all you give in this space :)

Kasey23/12/2012 - 12:09 pm

I think, as humans, it is our responsibility to always strive to be better, and to try (as best we can) to live with intention. Just want you to know your space is always a place that makes me think, feel warm, and connected. Happy holidays to you, friend! xo

Kathryne24/12/2012 - 1:08 am

I’m so glad we met this summer, Laura. Your spirit just glows. The intention with which you produce your posts is so evident here, always. Keep on striving and happy holidays, friend.

Kathryn24/12/2012 - 12:51 pm

Happy holidays Laura, I look forward to seeing what amazingness you come up with in 2013.

sara27/12/2012 - 1:08 am

i love your space. thank you for being wonderful. happy holiday to you my dear!!

Elenore Bendel Zahn31/12/2012 - 5:01 am

You are so dear to my heart!

salted maple walnut + vanilla bean chocolate cups


Chocolate has a serious hold on my heart all year, but lately it feels like a love for the ages. This is mostly to say that I can’t seem to stop it from being around me at all times. Snow flies, we’re in the thick of December, treats abound. Love has proven to be a dangerous and rather heady thing across the entirety of existence and yet, oh weird, there’s my fingers getting to work on another sparkly wrapper. Love and excess is perhaps a more relevant, still timeless, pairing that I’ll accept for the moment. It’s too real and never enough.

So to keep that whole gravely serious thing going I made a very seriously delicious thing. Chocolate cups with tasty fillings are nothing new, I realize. My little version here is pretty wholesome and crazy rich though. It’s vegan appropriate and a very simple gluten-free-friendly adjustment can be made. This combination was a bit of an experiment for me and it worked out so pleasantly. The vanilla, walnut + bourbon butter is a touch intense on its own, but in a sweet little chocolate case it’s perfect. Happy sparkles of vanilla bean-flecked fleur de sel grace the tops and the world feels right.

This recipe is easy and highly adjustable. You can swap the walnuts with any nut or seed you like. I use some graham cracker crumbs for body in the filling, but they aren’t necessary at all. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you could stir the maple syrup, coconut oil, bourbon etc into some store-bought nut butter for total ease. I’ll be toting these to any holiday gathering I find myself at for sure. Hope you’re all still enjoying this lovely season of warmth and togetherness. If anyone needs me, I’ll be listening to my favourite sort-of-Christmas-y-but-not-actually-a-Christmas-album and passing out on the couch from way too much chocolate/love :)

Oh, and another lovely thing: the holiday/winter issue of FoodieCrush Magazine is out! I have a recipe for a sticky and wonderful demerara sugar and vanilla breakfast bundt inside along with a little story on our holiday traditions. This beautiful publication is full to the brim with great recipes and content by some seriously talented bloggers (and it’s free!). Check it out here.

salted maple walnut + vanilla bean chocolate cups
serves: makes around 20 small/mini cups
notes: It’s good to grind up the walnuts and make a walnut butter base before you add the maple syrup and everything else. Nuts/seeds tend to zap the moisture out of everything around them when they’re getting ground into things. Also, I would make up the walnut butter right before you intend to assemble the cups to avoid any oil separating issues.

1.5 cups walnut halves, toasted
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, divided
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (use a GF brand or leave them out if need be)
1 tbsp bourbon or other brown liquor of choice (very optional)
1 1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips/pieces
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk of your choice (I went with almond)
pinches of fleur de sel or other nice salt

Make the walnut filling:  Place the toasted walnut halves and half of the vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to chop the nuts up small. Turn the food processor on to high and process nuts and vanilla until a smooth paste begins to form, about one to two full minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and process again. Add the graham cracker crumbs and pulse a couple times. Then, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, bourbon and a pinch of salt. Process on high until fully combined. Scrape walnut butter into a small bowl and set aside.

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of fleur de sel with the remaining vanilla bean seeds in a small bowl/vessel. Pinch the salt and seeds together until the little black flecks are evenly mixed up with the salt. Set aside.

Combine the semisweet chocolate chips and milk in a non-reactive bowl. Set the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water in the saucepan). Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is totally melted and you have a smooth, homogenous mixture.

Assemble: Set out 20 or so small paper cup liners (or 10 big ones). Divide half of the melted chocolate amongst the liners. Drop heaped teaspoons of the walnut butter into the center of the first layer of chocolate. If you have the cups in an actual muffin tin for assembling, bang and twist the pan on the table to settle the initial layers. Pour the remaining melted chocolate on top of the walnut butter layer. Sprinkle cups with vanilla bean fleur de sel. Place cups in the fridge to set.

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ana cooks12/12/2012 - 10:16 am

more than the recipe, i really love the photos! ;)

Kathryn12/12/2012 - 10:31 am

I know exactly what recipe I’m going to make first in my brand new food processor! These little bites of goodness sound incredibly addictive with that perfect salty/sweet combo and the hint of booze. Excellent festive fare.

Katie @ figgy & sprout12/12/2012 - 2:32 pm

Another gorgeous post, Laura! This recipe is definitely something I’ll be trying this weekend with my new food processor :)

Claudia12/12/2012 - 5:17 pm

I came upon your blog a week ago and I have to say you have beautiful photography that really displays your food quite well. These look and sound delicious, I might just give them a go!

Cheers and thank you for sharing :)

Claudia

Sophia13/12/2012 - 6:54 am

These look absolutely brilliant – lovely pictures too. I already love peanut butter cups (and definitely prefer the homemade ones) but lately I have become a huge fan of walnuts and now even prefer to smear some homemade walnut butter on a piece of toasted sourdough with a drizzle of honey and some fleur de sel to pb&jam, so this is right up my alley!

thelittleloaf13/12/2012 - 7:57 am

Maple walnut is one of my favourite combinations ever so throw in some delicious dark chocolate and I’m 100% sold. Love your two-tone nails in the photo by the way!

sara forte13/12/2012 - 7:51 pm

yes please. I’ve been wanting to make mini almond butter cups and I will totally take your addition of the maple. Sounds so perfect with that vanilla bean salt. Gorgeous photos, laura!!

Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes)14/12/2012 - 3:09 pm

These look incredibly delightful. And the photography is just gorgeous!

[…] Salted Maple Walnut & Vanilla Bean Chocolate Cups – Both rich and festive, this would be a great candy to wrap up and give as a gift to someone special on your list! […]

ana maria rodriguez17/12/2012 - 10:01 pm

Estan super estas preparaciones espero hacerlas pronto

Kathryne19/12/2012 - 6:58 pm

I sure do love the way you write, Laura. These little chocolatey treats look marvelous.

sarah20/12/2012 - 11:38 pm

Lovely lovely! I love everything about this post. And that photo with the hands and the vanilla bean is fantastic. xo

Erica22/12/2012 - 7:41 pm

Ohhh I love your nail color! I wish I could pull that off… I can only pull off reds and pinks. :(

Courtney24/12/2012 - 2:48 am

You totally had me with the vanilla bean fleur de sel. And let’s face it, I’m a sucker for anything with bourbon in it. YUM!

Heather Hands28/12/2012 - 12:50 pm

I love these pictures. The dark colors and moody lighting. Fabulous. A delicious recipe to-boot.

Zainab16/01/2013 - 2:00 am

I just found your food blog and I’m obsessed! The look delish, can’t wait to try them! :)

[…] by a number of recipes from around the interwebs (these stunning little Salted Maple Walnut Dark Chocolate Cups, this Raw Date Cocoa Nib Cookie recipe) this recipe came together based on what I had to hand and […]