HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH SOUP TO MAKE? HERE’s MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS WHEN DECIDING WHAT SOUP TO MAKE!
There’s no exact science to this, but guided by a combination of 4 factors that I consider:
The consumer, conditions, preferences, and external factors.
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
You can explore more about some Traditional Chinese Medicine theories in these posts.
Read more below on HOW MY BRAIN WORKS!
And I tried really hard to document this in a more logical process.
There’s making soups.
And then there’s making soup BY DESIGN.
And here’s my thinking process outlined into an infographic. Stay with me! One of my challenges is brain dumping my thinking on to a page. It’s simple enough in my brain, that’s why I need a full blog for this!
How I define what to look at (merging some of my experience in Retail):
1. Who is the consumer? Who is consuming the soup? Even if it’s yourself, it matters. The point is to ensure your consumer is having an AMAZING experience consuming your soup or tea. Eating, drinking, savouring, tasting is meant to be enjoyable. This is why we continue to cook, continue to serve, continue to make. It’s because it was an enjoyable experience!
2. Are there any immediate things to address? And this is second priority because symptoms are superficial and short-lived. The idea is to relieve these symptoms so we can get to the root of true balance in the body. This can include a cough, a cold, having gone through a certain life body stage (such as birthing [or confinement] or menopause or a surgery). This step usually informs the type of herbs (and ingredients) I will use.
3. Any dietary considerations? This step helps with determining my soup base, usually the meat (or not) involved. My 2 primary default meats are chicken or pork. Chicken usually for more warming soups (such as Herbal healing soups) and pork for more cooling soups (like a winter melon double boiled soup).
4. Any external factors to consider that impact the long term balance in the body? This includes weather, humidity, or anything not covered in step 2 around conditions. This will also inform some of the herbs (but not as primary input) and ingredients, such as using winter melons in the summer and more beans in the spring to help dispel moisture from the body.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES
USE CASE 1:
Having a barbeque (PARTY!!) and it’s in the dead of summer. Which means the external conditions are hot and dry. Consuming barbeque, hot pot, or anything deep fried creates excess yang (or heatiness) in the body.
Sometimes you’ll either develop canker sores, a rough cracking red tongue, or pimples, these are all signs of excess yang in the body. This is explained in this guide to using TCM in teas and soups here. I’ll make a soup that’s more cooling (reducing yang) with pork that can help eliminate heat in the body. Ingredients include winter melons, fresh snow pears, chayotes, green radish are a few. This is also why the Chinese love serving watermelons and drinking prune juice during hot pots! I’ll also prepare teas that help cool the body, which can include water chestnuts, fresh and dried snow pears, or American ginseng and honey.
USE CASE 2:
I run and ride outdoors A LOT! This includes during questionable weather conditions where I know it’s bad for me, but I still do it thinking I’ve bundled myself well enough and thinking I can always make a warming, yin reducing tea. LOL. I know I’ve accumulated too much yin, especially in the lungs when my extremeties become numb and cold (like hands and feet and fingers), I have a runny nose immediately to exposure (a lot of us get this), and I’ll develop a surface cough in the throat in the evening. You want to catch the pathogen before it goes too deep into the lungs!
What I’ll make is a tea right away to warm the body (increasing yang), such as a red dates, longans, and ginger tea, or decreasing yin tea with monk fruit, ginger, and rock sugar.