Makes 6 to 8 servings
If you prefer less heat, use just a pinch or two of cayenne instead of the chiles. Feel free to add other ingredients you have on hand or use whatever you like best.
• Large handful dandelion greens
• 2 quarts water
• 1 stick astragalus root, broken in half 2-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and grated or chopped fine (about 2½ tablespoons)
• 1 small dried cayenne chile pepper,stemmed and seeded, diced fine
• 1 whole garlic bulb, peeled and thinly sliced
• About 1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, broken or chopped coarsely (about ½ cup chopped)
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 large sweet potato, diced into small cubes (between 3 and 4 cups)
• 1 tablespoon packed dried calendula florets, minced
• 2 generous teaspoons dried thyme leaves, minced
• 1 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
• Couple pinches cinnamon
• 1 bunch spinach, cleaned (about
• 2 cups packed leaves, coarsely chopped)
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) To prepare dandelion: Rinse greens thoroughly. Remove and chop stems, then coarsely chop leaves. Keep chopped leaves separate from chopped stems. Set aside.
2) In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, combine water, astragalus, ginger, cayenne, garlic, shiitake and turmeric. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Add sweet potato, stir, cover and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes. Add minced herbs, bell pepper and cinnamon. Stir well, cover and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, adding dandelion stems after 3 or 4 minutes.
4) Finally, add spinach and dandelion greens. Season generously with salt and pepper, and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until greens are wilted and tender. Adjust seasonings. Remove astragalus root before serving.
James A. Duke, Ph.D., a botanist and former USDA researcher, is widely considered one of the world’s leading authorities on healing plants. He conducts seminars on botanical medicine at the Green Farmacy Garden and leads annual expeditions to the Amazon rainforest and coastal forests of Maine. His new book,Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of the Bible, will be published December 2007.