Simple Winter Melon Soup

Categories: Damp Heat in the Lower Jiao, Diabetes, Spleen Damp Heat, Urinary Bladder Damp Heat

Simple Winter Melon Soup 2 to 3 servings

6 (5 ounces fresh, 1 ounce dried) fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms
1 (1-pound) wedge winter melon
3 cups chicken, bone, or vegetable stock
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, slivered into 1/16-inch slices
1/4 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt, soy sauce, or sodium-reduced soy sauce (optional)
1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 medium-sized green onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, roots and tough end discarded

If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in 1/2 cup of warm water for 20 minutes or until soft. If you are using fresh mushrooms, simply rinse. Cut off and discard the stem if desired, then slice the mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.

Peel the melon wedge (this will be easier if you peel the skin thickly, as the melon closer to skin is tougher). Scrape off and discard the stringy inner fibers and seeds. Cut the melon into 1/2-inch slices, then cut the slices widthwise into 1-inch pieces.

Place the stock, melon, ginger and mushrooms into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered with lid slightly ajar for about 15 minutes or until the melon becomes slightly transparent and soft.

Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Add salt or soy sauce to the soup to taste, if desired (if you have edema or high blood pressure, you’ll want to go easy on the salt or use a low-sodium variety soy sauce; also note the broth’s saltiness before salting as it can vary according the stock used).

Remove the ginger pieces, if desired (or just eat around them).

Sprinkle sesame oil and green onions on top and serve.

Vegetarians can omit the shrimp or substitute sliced tofu. For those who prefer the more traditional ham instead of shrimp, use about 1 ounce, sliced and add it to the bowls just prior to serving.

Shiitake Mushrooms-sweet, neutral; SP/LU; supplement qi, boost wei qi, lower cholesterol, prevent cancer
Winter Melon-bland, slightly cold; LU/ST/UB; clear heat, drain damp, resolve phlegm
Chicken Stock-chicken is sweet, warm; SP/ST/KD; supplement qi, nourish blood, consolidate KD, boost wei qi
Ginger-pungent, warm; LU/SP/ST; disperse exterior cold, stop nausea and vomiting, detoxify other herbs, reduce inflammation
Shrimp-sweet, warm; LV/KD/SP; boost KD Yang, promote lactation, discharge pus and mucus
Salt-salty, cold; KD; clear heat, cool blood, ease bowel movements, nourish KD
Soy Sauce-salty, cold; SP/ST/KD; harmonizes MJ, clear heat, antidote to drug and food poisoning
Sesame Oil-cool, sweet; LI/LV/KD; down bearing, moisten intestines, laxative, detoxifies, raise unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin and vitamin E, treats dryness in intestines, constipation, digestive obstructions, blood and qi vacuity of LV and KD, weakness in muscles, skins and bones; CONTRAINDICATED in excess conditions, weakens SP pancreas network, can cause diarrhea
Green Onion-pungent, warm; LU/LI; release exterior wind cold, invigorate blood, drain damp

Clears heat, expels dampness and promotes urination.

Especially good for anyone who wants to reduce swelling and puffiness, for example, from PMS or menopause; who wants to lose weight; who is experiencing prostate problems; or who has high blood pressure. To enhance therapeutic effects of winter melon, leave the peel on and place the seeds in a bag made of cheesecloth or other porous material, simmer with the soup, and remove before serving.