We love the cool, crisp fall months… once they actually decide to roll around.

Until then, we’re looking for cooling recipes like this incredible concoction from integrative health & food therapy specialist Christine Dionese of Garden Eats. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, this strange, but delicious soup is served cold and as easy as making a smoothie. Here’s why you should try it…

While most parts of the country are cooling off to make way for fall weather, in true Southern California fashion, we’re experiencing yet another heat wave, typical of late summer and early autumn. Our need for hydration not only doubles, but the heat also compromises immunity, resulting in those all-too-familiar pesky coughs and dry, sore throats.

Traditional Chinese medical food therapy has long supplied the remedies for regional, seasonal health concerns such as the “summer heat” or “dry heat” virus. Taking a cue from this wisdom, we’ve been able to adapt traditional recipes for our modern needs with the inclusion of readily available superfoods.

Consuming yin (or cool) and cold foods during heat waves, according to traditional Chinese medicine, induces sweating to promote circulation, improving the flow of energy. From an integrative, functional medical perspective, consuming cool foods such as watermelons, cantaloupes, watercress, asparagus and bok choy reduces metabolic waste by acting as gentle diuretics. Applying the principle of mutual accentuation, we add herbs and superfoods that amplify the diuretic effects of these foods to help promote the bioavailability of nutrients without causing loss of vital fluids. This means that while the carefully selected medicinal foods in this recipe help potential metabolic waste such as viruses and bacterias to be excreted from the body, they also provide easy-to-absorb nutrients that simultaneously strengthen immunity.

The essential recipe for balancing immunity this time of year not only improves your ability to eradicate and eliminate a potential virus or bacteria, but also to stabilize immunity by protecting adrenal and endocrine health. This aspect of the food therapy recipe improves our response to stress. Ginseng and bitter melon work together to help achieve this. This recipe may help reduce blood pressure, stabilize the glycemic index, promote absorption of nutrients such as vitamins A and C and the minerals calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. And, what it does best? Soothes that sore throat and rids you of cough.

As a bonus? Kids love the earthy, yet slightly sweet flavor of cold soups on a hot summer day. You can even get them to drink it down with a straw!

Immune-Building Traditional Chinese Cold Soup


1 small cantaloupe chopped, reserving several wedges for garnish
1/4 cup chopped raw asparagus
1 slice bitter melon
bean sprouts
½ bok choy or 1 small bok choy
2 cups watercress
¼-½ cup cilantro
2-3 lemons*
5, ½ inch thick slices of North American or white ginseng root washed and unpeeled**

*If you prefer a thinner consistency, add third lemon at the end to reach desired consistency.
**If you cannot source, use 2 Tbsp ashwagandha powder


Juice 2 lemons into bottom of high speed blender.

Place chopped melon in blender, blend on low-medium until melon is puréed.

Add cilantro, watercress and bok choy. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is achieved. Add ginseng or ashwagandha powder, continue blending. Taste will be slightly sweet, yet earthy. Add more cilantro if earthier taste is desired. Add additional lemon at this time if you prefer.

Chop asparagus, 1 slice bitter melon and place on top of cantaloupe wedges. Place on top of soup and serve.

Note: kids might not like the raw, distinct taste of bitter melon, so omit if serving to children.

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