By Sara Dahmen
Before winter officially arrives, we still have some delightful fall days ahead, filled with family and food. This month we’re diving into a fiber-rich soup and some elecampane syrup to end the rough coughs and colds sure to come by our indoor mingling with extended family during Thanksgiving (and the exchange of germs that comes with said mingling).
FOUR BEAN CHILI
We eat quite clean in our house (you’ll notice my recipes do not have butter or oils or any animal products – it’s a cancer-staving-off method of living we’ve adopted since we lost my father-in-law two years ago), but you can always modify any recipes with meat and dairy, which I’ll note as well.
Beans are an excellent source of protein as well as fiber and the more colors you can use of beans, the more nutrient-dense your meal will be. I’ve used what I had in the house, but truly any beans can be used. **If you use dried beans, soak them in water overnight before using.
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white/ great Northern beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can diced and fire-roasted tomatoes
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, mince
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried parsley
* Browned and strained ground beef optional
Pour about ½ cup water into a large pot. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until transparent, stirring often. Add in all other ingredients (including the beef if you are using) and cook together on a low simmer, occasionally gently stirring, for about 20 minutes.
Garnish with shredded cheese and bacon bits if you wish.
Serve warm with fresh bread loaves.
Elecampane is a field flower that has been well naturalized in Wisconsin. It’s used in herbal medicine quite regularly. I’ve been using it with my children since they were very young since, first and foremost, it is a very effective cough (especially nighttime coughs) suppressant. With most over-the-counter cough medications only OK for children aged 12 and older, I wanted something natural and available for my toddlers.
You only use the root of the plant. If you forage, take only half the root. If you grow your own, wait two years to harvest part of the root.
Sometimes I can get in fresh root from the west coast, but it’s much easier to find dried root. I’m enclosing both recipes here.
Take up to 6 doses per day for up to 3 days.
Dose: 2tsp as needed for adults and ½ tsp for children as needed
Do not take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Not recommended for children under the age of 2.
If you do have children under 2, replace the honey with maple syrup.
Fresh Root Syrup:
5-6oz fresh elecampane roots, scrubbed and sliced
1 ¼ cup raw honey
Fill a pint jar with the roots, pour in the honey, stir and cover tightly. Label the jar with date and place in a cool dark place. Allow syrup to infuse for at least 4 weeks and up to 3 months. Strain the infused syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the roots. Transfer the syrup to a clean glass jar, cover tightly and label. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
Dried Root Syrup:
1oz dried elecampane root, sliced or chopped
2 cups water
½ cup raw honey
Combine the elecampane root and water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced in half.
Allow the decoction to cool slightly then strain through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, pressing the roots against the sides of the sieve to extract as much medicine as possible. Discard the roots.
Measure the liquid and divide that volume by two to make sure you use the right amount of honey. For example, if you get 1 cup of elecampane liquid, add ½ cup of honey, etc.
Allow the elecampane decoction/liquid to cool until just warm to the touch and then add your honey and stir to combine. Transfer syrup to clean glass jar and label. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
NOTE: Elecampane decoction can turn turquoise when exposed to oxygen. If you cool the decoction/liquid completely after boiling before you add the honey, you may see this color change. It is completely harmless and the syrup is still completely fine.
About the Author
Sara Dahmen is a coppersmith, award-winning author and novelist, and entrepreneur. Her expertise is of vintage and modern cookware; she manufactures pure metal kitchenware in her Port Washington, Wisconsin garage for her company, House Copper & Cookware. All of her current designs are based on American traditions and wares and are sourced in the USA. When unable to recreate traditional elements, she uses only small family owned and operated makers or Armed Forces veterans to help with the production of her cookware pieces. Her work also includes refurbishing and restoring old and damaged copper using vintage tools. Learn more about Sara at: https://www.saradahmen.com/ Order Sara's book! Full color, hard-cover COPPER IRON AND CLAY (Morrow/HarperCollins)