I remember the first time I became aware of the energetics of an herb. It was subtle, but profound.
Shopping for groceries in a new concept store outside of Boston that offered health food, I bought a cereal that had ginger as an ingredient. I ate it and suddenly my food made me feel this blanket of happy. I didn’t put two and two together until I noticed the second time I ate the cereal that my blanket of bliss was back! Ginger has been an herbal food-as-mood-enhancement ever since.
I don’t consider myself a gourmet chef in any sense of the word; however, Herbalism has brought a sense of mindfulness and joy to cooking. To know the energetics or actions of an herb, to know them as friends who promote self-healing, and not just ingredients, somehow even the preparation of a meal is much more meaningful. Before Herbalism study, ingredients put together was often drudgery. Now with herbs as allies, and pairing them in thoughtful meals, cooking has finally become more art than a process of nutrition. The nourishment of food has become a holistic treat.
When I began formal Herbalism study, Burdock root (Arctium lappa) came up on several of my must-have lists to have in my herbal apothecary, primarily for immunomodulating support. It wasn’t until I traveled to Japan in 2017 and discovered burdock root is also known as gobo, that I realized it’s in my neighborhood Japanese grocery store, fresh and waiting for my next recipe! This was also a lesson in communication, as I then discovered that most of my family had been eating gobo for years when and since they each lived in Japan.
Burdock root became a bridge between Herbalism and sharing its many benefits with my family. Ginger and garlic, my longtime friends, were an added bonus!
Burdock Bliss Soup
By Loretta Boyer McClellan of Botaniscape.com
Adapted from Rosalee De La Forêt’s Recipe
My family loves Asian style cooking and especially fresh ginger, so this recipe, adapted from Rosalee De La Forêt’s, “Hot and Sour Soup with Burdock Root,” is sure to please. It offers zesty flavor and wonderful herbal and wellness support, especially from the garlic, burdock root, ginger, mushrooms, and apple cider vinegar. I opted not to add the egg or tamari (fermented soy sauce), cornstarch or white vinegar; instead, I choose to include ramen, apple cider vinegar and another fermentation benefit of miso from the premade stock. A future version may likely include fresh miso paste in the broth, as well as beansprouts and cilantro to simmer the last few minutes in the soup, with a dash of black sesame seeds as a garnish. Naturally, this recipe will continue to evolve as ideas and family needs change.
1 cup fresh burdock root, julienned (peel left on, cut into matchstick size in width and cut into approximately 2-inch length; burdock root is known as goba in Japan; found in most Asian grocery stores in the produce section)
1 cup carrots, julienned
5 large green onions, sliced
5 large white mushrooms, sliced (was what I had on hand; next time 2 or 3 Shitake)
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
7 cloves of fresh garlic, minced/from garlic press (5 cloves for soup stock and 2 for browning chicken)
4 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar (unfiltered, raw and unpasteurized)
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil (to brown chicken in)
3 quarts soup stock (one 1-quart carton of Trader Joe’s Organic Hearty Vegetable broth; two 1-quart cartons of Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger broth)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into approximately 1/8” thick, then cut into approximately 1 ½” long pieces
1 tablespoon sea salt or Himalayan salt (or to taste; for soup stock)
1-inch bundle of ramen noodles per person (real ramen, not “instant ramen;” packages of bundles available in Asian grocery stores)
Dash of sea salt or Himalayan salt (for browning chicken)
1 tablespoon black pepper (or to taste; for soup stock)
Dash of black pepper (for browning chicken)
6 Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish
Brown chicken slices in skillet in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic; add dash/es of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Set aside mushrooms for the end of cooking, to preserve firmness.
Pour soup stock into a large stock pot. Add to the stock: sliced green onions, julienned burdock root, julienned carrots, fresh grated ginger, fresh minced garlic, pepper and salt. Gently stir. Add browned sliced chicken. Gently stir again. Heat to high until it boils, then add the vinegar and reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes of simmering the soup, in a separate stockpot, boil water to cook the ramen in. Ramen generally takes about 4 minutes to cook, but read the package instructions. You want to time the ramen to finish when the soup does.
During the last 5 minutes of simmering the soup, test the carrots and burdock root to be sure they are tender enough. If not, add 5-10 more minutes to simmer longer. If the burdock root and carrots are tender, add the mushrooms and cook 5 more minutes.
Place cooked ramen in bowl, then pour the soup over it. Garnish with cilantro sprig, then serve.
Makes 6+ servings.
Disclaimer: The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.
The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.