Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

How to make Love Soup - the recipe

How to make a medicinal, healing, nourishing soup for the people you care about when they're sick. Starting with you.

This is not exactly a recipe.

I seem not to be a recipe sort of person.

So when the cold weather kicks in the coughs and colds start plaguing households, this is wonderful activity for both giver and receiver.

I start with the "bone broth" concept.

If you're vegetarian, of course that will be vegetable broth.

In China, they would often make a soup for mothers that used a whole chicken. You have to be of a famine culture to even know how significant that is.


So I start with a whole organic chicken, although the scraps from last night's roast works perfectly well.

I place it in my biggest tureen, and cover it with water.

Add a bit more water if you've loads of people to feed.

In goes a capful of my apple cider vinegar, and good dash of sea salt, and then I start foraging.

I pick all the medicinal herbs from my garden.

* Rosemary – a carminative digestive herb, rich in anti-oxidants.
* Thyme – an antiseptic and expectorant, immune-boosting herb to treat coughs, colds and flu.
* Sage – rich in anti-oxidants, helpful for sore throats and tonsillitis.
* Oregano – a potent antiseptic for coughs, colds, tonsillitis and bronchitis.
* Coriander – like the other, a digestive or carminative herb, also known to ease anxiety.
* Basil – bacteriocidal, reduces coughs, used traditionally for pertussis, helpful for headaches, also treats intestinal worms.
* Parsley – nature’s multi-vitamin, rich in minerals, also a tonic for the uterus.

I don't just use a scanty teaspoon or so of dried herbs. I use good big handfuls of fresh herbs.

I add in roots for their warming, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing powers: ginger, turmeric and of course, nature's anti-biotic: garlic.

And then I add my dried medicinal roots. You can source these from a health food store or your local herbalist - or, I can post them to you.

These are some of the roots I add to my soup, and why:

* Astragalus root - a strengthening tonic adaptogen herb with immune-enhancing actions, ideal for infections, including respiratory infections, and fatigue.

* Withania root - known as Ashwaganda, this is a traditional Indian root. Likd Astragalus, it's a tonic adaptogen with immune boosting actions, and also has anti-inflammatory, sedative and anti-anaemic properties. I find it especially helpful for people who are just worn out with stress and beginning to feel panicky about their inability to cope.

* Echinacea root - an excellent herb for the immune system, to help combat all kinds of infections and illnesses. It also has anti-inflammatory actions.

* Dong Quai - traditionally added to Chinese soup for mothers. This herb has anti-inflammatory, anti-anaemic actions and is a uterine tonic. It modulate the immune system, is a potent anti-oxidant and is ideal for supporting recovery. It's a blood tonic and helps balance hormones and regulate menstruation. it is used to treat "debility" - especially secondary to breastfeeding. See why this herb is used in soup for mothers? How I love the age-old wisdom of Chinese medicine!

I also like to add Schisandra to the broth at this stage of the process. They're called We Wei Zi in China - the 5 Taste Berry - because they taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent all at the same time! These little red berries from China are truly magical and they even sound like a magic word, don't they? Schisandra gives strength and is used to enhance physical and mental endurance and performance. It’s an adaptogen, increasing resistance to stress. Schisandra also protects the liver and nourishes the nervous system, easing stress and anxiety.

I let everything percolate for a good few hours, or a day, or overnight, while I get on with other things.

Like preparing the grains and vegetables for the second step of my soup making.

If your people need building up and energy, not just medicine, this is a good time to soak your grain and pulses. You could use lentils, beans, peas or barley. I soak them in a container with a lid, for about 12 hours. We do this to remove phytic acid and start the germination process. More about soaking grains here

The vegetables I put in my soup depends on what’s in season and what’s in the fridge. I love the root vegetables for their energy-giving and gut-mucosa soothing qualities. Potato, carrot, sweet potato, swede, turnip, beetroot – all lovely.

Leek, onion, garlic and cabbage are our pre-biotic vegetables so in they go, if I have them handy.
Well, my broth has stewed on the stove all day. It’s time for step 2. I let everything cool a bit, then remove the whole chicken. The slow-cooked meat easily falls off the bones. I set aside the tender meat, and the cat has a great feast on the bones!

Then I strain the broth through a sieve or muslin cheesecloth. This gives me a beautiful clear, nourishing broth.

When you make Love Soup, don’t forget to look after you. Now is a good time to sit down by the fire and enjoy a nice, slow cup of this amazing broth.


Now, time to assemble the soup! Back into my big tureen I place:
- The broth
- The chicken meat, larger pieces pulled apart with a fork
- The soaked grains and pulses, rinsed
- The root vegetables and other vegetables
- Sliced dried or fresh mushrooms e.g. reishi, shitake
- Some kind of chilli for those who enjoy the spicy taste and appreciate the warming and sinus-clearing effects!

And back to the woodstove goes my big soup tureen. While this is simmering. I prepare all my beautiful green leafies. This is going to be your hit of iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium and more. 
I like to put these in just towards the end of cooking, when the other ingredients are just soft.

You might add dandelion greens, kale, nettle, spinach, silver beet or anything that takes your fancy or needs using up.

I love to add a good sprinkle of coriander last. But some people don’t like that stuff, so I leave that for people to add themselves if they wish.

At this point, it is time for you to have another settle by the fire with a big bowl of this delicious soup. You need the rest, and the nourishment, and the practice at taking care of yourself first.
So that’s how I tend to do it. Every family and every culture develops their own ways to nourish their loved ones, especially when they are poorly. So I would love your stories and comments and thoughts!

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