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  • Writer's pictureAmy Donovan (BNatMed)

Time to soothe the soul

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In this current health situation with COVID-19 and the lock down I know it has affected so many people around the world in some very challenging ways.

The caliber of this situation has never before been felt or experienced.

The closest world-wide experiences we have to compare it to are World Wars.

The uncertainty around people's jobs, health and livelihood is not a comfortable experience at all.

I have felt sadness, grief, shock, gratitude, relief all in the same day.

All through the ups and downs I have needed to remind myself that all the feelings are valid.

For the most part though, I have been thoroughly enjoying this 'pause' time.

I had been pushing myself really hard for the past 9 months or so (actually it's longer, if I'm being honest it is my typical M.O. 🙄).

I am so blessed to have been so well supported by so many amazing clients, both through Naturopathy and Massage, but I feel equally blessed to have this break forced on our whole country.

To stop, and take stock.

To reflect, and reset.

To daydream, and rest.

To plan, and prepare for when everything is 'back to business' for New Zealand.

It has provided time for people to reconnect with what is important - people, food, their environment, and their health.

People have been stocking up on dry stores,

making their own bread,

cooking their own meals,

buying seeds and plants to begin growing their own produce,

thinking about where their food comes from,

thinking about where their waste goes and working to reduce it,

using cars less,

spending more time in nature,


calling and messaging friends and family,

placing a priority on their immunity and health in general.

This time off has had me in the kitchen more than usual.

I love cooking and baking but haven't been prioritsing time to cook with clients being my main priority.

The other night we had a roast chicken and used the frames (bones) to make stock in a bid to reduce waste and make something out of nothing.

It is so simple and really is a wasted opportunity to gain extra nutrients (and a great base for a soup - see below) if you don't use the bones.

Chicken bone broth

Homemade chicken broth or stock is an awesome opportunity to get some great gut health nutrients like collagen and proline which can help to promote gut integrity and heal leaky gut. 70% of our immunity is in our gut tissue so a healthy gut = a healthy immunity. Also most of our serotonin is made in our gut too, so if we want good mental health we need to be working on our gut health too.

You will also get an extra dose of minerals from the bones which are required for many functions such as bone formation, muscle relaxation, enzyme activity and so much more!

Put the bones from your roast chook in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the bones completely and 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar. This helps to extract even more mineral goodness out of the frames.

Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for 2 hours.

Let cool completely before straining, this allows further extraction of nutrients and minerals.

Discard bones and pour the liquid into a container with a secure lid to either place in fridge to use within 2 days, or to freeze for up to 3 months.

You can use vege peelings, garlic, onion, herbs and other vegetables if you want to make a more flavourful broth. This time it was kept simple as I was going to use it for the soup below which was going to pack enough punch with flavour.

I've always believed in food as medicine, not only for our physical health but our mental and emotional health too.

What's more soothing and nourishing than a bowl of soup?!

To me soup is soul food so I dreamed up this vegetarian soup below and I want to share it with you.

Smokey tomato bean and lentil soup with kumara

Prep time - 20 minutes (+ time for soaking the beans and lentils)

Cooking time - 90 minutes

Makes 4 large portions

This hearty thick soup provides lots of vitamin C from onions, garlic and tomato, vitamin A from the kumara, and zinc from the beans and lentils - all of which promote a strong immunity crucial as we head into winter.

The spices provide a circulatory boost to ensure the lymphatic system is flowing well.

Lentils and beans provide a great source of protein when meat is increasingly expensive.

Soaking them overnight is crucial to begin the enzymatic process to break down phytates which can cause gastrointestinal upset.


1 cup dried beans and lentils (I used a mix) soaked in 2 cups fresh water overnight,

rinsed well and drained

2 onions finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 fresh chili, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried ground chili (optional)

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large celery stick, finely chopped

2 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

2 teaspoons iodised sea salt

A good few cracks of freshly ground black pepper

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 litre of homemade chicken stock

1 medium kumara, cut into large chunks


1. First step is soaking the beans. Add the dried beans to a ceramic or glass vessel and add two cups of fresh water. I started this process around midday (hey, it's lock down - I had no where else to be!) and left them out on the bench.

At bed time I rinsed and drained them before placing them back into the same Pyrex jug before topping this up with fresh water and putting them in the fridge to continue soaking. I did this because sometimes pulses can go a bit funky and slimy if left out.

The following day I just got them out when I started prepping the soup, rinsed them really well and drained them until I was ready.

2. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large saucepan and heat to a moderate temperature before adding the onions and dried spices.

Sauté this for around 3 minutes or until onions are transparent.

3. Add garlic and fresh/dried chili and sauté for a minute or two until garlic is fragrant.

4. Add celery, carrot, fennel, tin tomatoes, stock and stir until all combined.

Cook on medium-high temperature with the lid on for 30 minutes. It should be at an active simmer during this time.

5. Add chunks of kumara and the soaked mixed beans and lentils. Stir gently and replace lid. Turn down to low and leave it to cook without stirring so as to not break up the kumara for 60 minutes. The bigger beans need this long to ensure they are fully cooked and soft to the bite.

If you don't like chunky kumara, you can squash it against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon to break it up.

6. Season well with extra salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with fresh coriander or parsley and some crusty garlic buttered bread of your choice.

Look after one another, and be sure to check on those you think may be vulnerable.

Be kind to essential service staff - without them we wouldn't have our basic human needs being met.

Take care of yourself and stay well!

Amy x

Amy Donovan is a qualified and registered Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and

Massage Therapist working from her private clinic in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.

References used:

Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2015). Herbs & Natural Supplements, Volume 1: An Evidence-based Guide. Marrickville, Australia: Elsevier Australia.

Erdman, J. W., Macdonald, I. A., & Zeisel, S. H. (2012). Present knowledge in nutrition Retrieved from

Hechtman, L. (2018). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Holford, P., & Burne, J. (2006). Food is better medicine than drugs: Your prescription for drug-free health. London, UK: Piatkus.

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York, NY: Atrai Books.

Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. E. (2012). The encyclopedia of natural medicine. New York, NY: Atria.

Sarris, J., & Wardle, J. (2014). Clinical naturopathy - an evidence-based guide to practice(2nd ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.London , England: Piatkus.

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