If you are looking for a hearty, healthy, gut friendly soup to enjoy this winter, you’ve landed in the right place! Last year, in the midst of the MRT/LEAP program (if you don’t know what MRT/LEAP are, it’s an amazing program to heal the gut. Check out my article here!) my naturopath introduced me to Kitchari. Kitchari is an healthy, satisfying stew-like dish that has been enjoyed for years for its cleansing and healing effects. This recipe in particular is loaded with gut friendly foods and is easy to make in large batches to keep on hand. Keep reading for why this Sweet Potato Kitchari is my favorite gut friendly soup recipe!
What is Kitchari
Kitchari is a staple in Ayurvedic nutritional healing practice due to its cleansing properties. Ayurvedic is an alternative medicine system originating in India that believes that nearly 80% of all diseases stem from imbalances in the digestive system. Now I’m not going to pretend that I knew about Ayurvedic medicine prior to writing this article, but I will say, anyone who believes that disease starts in the gut is a friend of mine! And they have great taste in soup.
The base of the soup is traditionally split mung beans and basmati rice. However, because mung beans are not part of the MRT protocol, the recipe my naturopath recommended substitutes red lentils in place of mung beans. Either way, both split mung beans and red lentils are two of the easiest legumes to digest. This base is then combined with a combination of other veggies and spices to creates a warm, filling soup that is full of flavor.
Benefits of Kitchari
What gives Kitchari its cleansing properties is the abundance of fiber rich foods. Fiber is essential to keep food moving through the digestive system and legumes and vegetables are two leading sources of fiber. Further, the combination of lentils, veggies, rice and coconut make for a great source of protein and healthy fats. Plus, the turmeric, cinnamon and cumin are anti-inflammatory and help fuel a healthy gut and microbiome.
The hearty combination of ingredients makes for a dense, filling soup that can easily be eaten as a meal. Personally, I never bother to prepare a salad or any other sides as the soup itself is nutrient dense and is sure to keep you feeling full. Even my husband, who has been known to put down 8 tacos in one sitting, finds the soup filling and satisfying.
Ok, shall we get to the recipe?! Bear in mind, there are tons of variations of Kitchari so feel free to customize as you see fit!
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 cups of warm water
- 4 cups of chopped kale
- 1/2 cup of red lentils
- 1/3 cup of basmati rice
- 1 sweet potato, skin on
- 1 zucchini, skin on
- 1 large carrot
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Soak the lentils and rice in hot water for 2 hours, or overnight. Once complete, rinse the lentil/rice mixture and set aside.
- Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
- Chop the sweet potato, zucchini and carrot into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- In a large pot, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and melt over medium heat.
- Add the spices to the pot and sauté over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add the lentil/rice mixture and stir to coat the mixture with the spices.
- Pre-boil 4 cups of water in a tea pot. Once hot, add the water to the pot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, keeping the lid cracked for the duration of the cooking process.
- Note – you may need to add more water as you add the other ingredients, depending on the size of the vegetables used.
- Add the chopped sweet potato and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Add the chopped zucchini, carrot, coconut and lemon juice. Stir and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped kale and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat. I like to blend my soup with an immersion blender; however you’re welcome to skip this step if you prefer a chunkier consistency.
This recipe is the ultimate example of how we can use food as medicine. I know I tend to eat more sugar or have a few extra cocktails during the winter months, especially leading up to the holidays. Having this soup on hand is a great tool to help sooth an unhappy stomach or get back on track after an indulgent weekend.
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