This easy to make late spring soup is delicious. Fill your kitchen with the aromas of fresh cilantro and garlic bread baking as the chickpeas and vegetables simmer. Yum!
Eastern View: Cilantro is a popular indian spice that is invaluable medicine too. It soothes an irritated digestive system and cools any burning sensations in the body. It’s sweet aroma can help lift the spirits and reduce depression. It is pungent, bitter and sweet and slightly oily and it reduces excess Vata and Pitta.
Cilantro also known as coriander is an excellent remedy for promoting digestion. Its especially good at building your metabolism without aggravating any acidity. It can be used safely when there is any inflammation in the digestive system and when the digestive fire needs strengthening.
It is a useful carminative herb prescribed for IBS and colic - both Vata-Pitta conditions. Both the leaf and the seed are used for digestion to clear gas, griping, and bloating.
It is also useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections such as cystitis, dysuria and cloudy urine. Its also a good remedy for diabetes and it helps reduce hot flashes.
It's a great anti-allergenic remedy and helps with allergic rhinitis, and is especially good at clearing toxins from the skin. It has an antispasmodic effect in the lungs and acts as an expectorant to clear mucus from the lungs - great for Kaphas in spring.
Escarole is bitter and the bitter taste is said to overpower or correct all the other tastes. This makes the bitter taste one of our best sources of medicine. Bitter corrects the other tastes, for example, if you have been overindulging in sweets you may be feeling a bit heavy, dull and slow. You can take some bitter herbs instead to clean out.
Escarole is strongly anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-parasitical due to its strong drying effect. And bitter greens have the quality of reducing environmental toxins as well. The bitter taste “increases intelligence, ” and due to its clearing qualities, can help reduce brain fog - often experienced by Vatas.
Western View: Cilantro is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. However, its deep-green leaves possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.
The leaves and stem tips are also rich in numerous anti-oxidant polyphenolic flavonoids. Cilantro is also a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C, which are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. It provides about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) may help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K which has a potential role in bone mass building through promotion of osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
Cilantro leaves provide only 23 calories/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any superfoods around us!
Escarole is a powerhouse of nutrition. Vatas often skip nutritious food due to constant snacking, so it's important for Vatas to have nutritionally dense foods. Each 1-cup serving is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds. To get the maximum health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises eating dark, leafy green vegetables, such as escarole, regularly. A 2009 review of nutrition research published in "Nutrition Reviews" suggest that high inulin and fiber content in escarole help reduce glucose and LDL-cholesterol levels in diabetes and obese patients.
According to The American Institute for Cancer Research, dark green, leafy vegetables such as escarole contain a high concentration of a variety of carotenoid compounds. These act as antioxidants by inhibiting the ability of free radicals to damage DNA. Antioxidants help Vatas who tend to have low immunity, especially this time of year. These carotenoids help prevent the development of cancers like stomach, lung, colon, skin and breast cancer.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb
1 or 2 shallots
Peeled fresh garlic
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 wedge escarole
Fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ciabatta roll
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
Heat the oven to 400ºF. Let the butter come to room temperature.
Scrub or peel the carrot and trim off the top; cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons. Cut the fennel lengthwise into quarters and cut away the core; cut the quarters lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Peel and thinly slice the shallots.
Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon. Divide into two equal portions, one for the garlic bread and one for the soup.
Rinse the chickpeas.
Trim the root end from the escarole; coarsely chop the leaves. Strip the parsley leaves from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves. Chop the cilantro leaves. Divide into two equal portions, one for the garlic bread and one for the soup.
Make the garlic bread.
In a small bowl, combine the butter with half the rosemary and garlic. Season with salt and mash with a fork until well blended.
Cut the ciabatta in half lengthwise and spread the rosemary-garlic butter evenly over the cut sides. Place, cut side up, on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until the butter has melted and the ciabatta is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
While the ciabatta bakes, make the soup.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil until hot.. Add the carrot and fennel, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the shallots, and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and cook until the shallots begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, escarole, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the escarole is tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the parsley and the remaining ciilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the soup to individual bowls. Garnish with the Parmesan and serve with the cilantro-garlic bread.
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