Mushroom Soup for Hormone Health
This is one of those recipes that seems fancier than it actually is. If you have any doubts about your ability to create a rich, creamy, dairy-free, hormone balancing mushroom soup at home, please allow me to help put those doubts to rest. Do you have a blender? A stove? An oven? An hour to spare? You can do this. And I predict you'll be glad you did. The ingredients are simple, wholesome and inexpensive, yet it all comes together as deeply flavourful and satisfying.
Now, I know your social media feeds are probably full of fresh, Spring-y salads and smoothies, but
hear me out: SOUP SEASON NEVER ENDS, FOLKS! Soups are such an ideal way to deliver a wide variety of essential nutrients in an easily digestible format. And in terms of fertility, Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes warming foods to encourage blood flow to the reproductive organs. Soup is soothing and building all at once - two properties that are supportive of those on a sometimes unbearably stressful fertility journey. When I cook a large pot of soup I always freeze a portion or two so that I've got lunch or dinner on a busy day in the future when I don't have time (or energy) to cook. Usually my soups are pretty basic: celery, carrots, onion, garlic, herbs, chicken, lentils, lemon, and greens. Or some variation on that theme. But every once in a while I pull the blender out to make a creamy soup and it never disappoints. (See also my Curried Lentil Chowder - so good!).
Mushrooms for Happy Hormones
Studies have found that white button mushrooms inhibit an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is involved in the production of estrogen. Specifically, it converts testosterone into estrogen. When this process is up-regulated, the body can start to build up an excess of estrogen. This is bad news for PMS sufferers, breast cancer risk, and progesterone balance. Adequate progesterone, as it's name suggests, is critical in terms of miscarriage prevention. Regular consumption of mushrooms can help keep estrogen in check and support overall hormone balance.
Mushrooms are also an excellent source of selenium, which has been well-studied for it's fertility benefits. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect eggs and sperm from damage and oxidative stress. Selenium also protects the thyroid gland from damage and is needed for thyroid hormone metabolism and synthesis. And finally, selenium is an important factor in sperm production. Very few foods contain high levels of selenium (Brazil nuts are possibly the best source), making mushrooms a great choice for regularly incorporating into your meals.
Creamy Mushroom Soup Recipe
2 cups sunchokes, chopped (also called Jerusalem artichokes. These are a root vegetable, and kind of like a cross between a potato and a turnip. Can't find sunchokes? No problem, use cauliflower instead, another hormone-balancing superstar!)
8-10 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or use 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cups white button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
4 stalks celery, diced
6 cups (approx.) bone broth
1 can cannellini beans (or other white beans), rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Olive oil for roasting sunchokes or cauliflower
Coconut oil for sautéing
Unrefined salt & fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F while you chop the sunchokes or cauliflower and garlic. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sunchokes and garlic on top. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons salt and pepper, and half of the thyme and toss everything until well coated. Bake for 30 minutes.
While the veg is roasting, chop the onion, celery, and mushrooms. Then, melt about 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes, and then add the celery and mushrooms. Do not put any salt in at this point! It draws liquid out of the mushrooms and prevents them from browning a bit and deepening the flavour. After about 5-7 minutes of cooking (mushrooms are browning slightly), add the rest of the thyme, 1-2 teaspoons salt and pepper, and sauté another minute or two.
Add broth to the mushroom mixture and bring to a gentle boil.
Once the sunchokes & garlic have cooled (not completely, but you should be able to touch them without burning yourself), place them in a blender. Then add the balsamic vinegar, can of white beans, and 2 cups of the mushroom soup mixture. Blend until smooth, then return everything to the soup pot and mix well, cooking for another couple of minutes. Taste the soup and add more salt & pepper if necessary.