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Autumn’s Associations in Chinese Medicine

Element: metal Yin organ: lungs Yang organ: large intestine Emotion: grief/sadness Climate: dryness Colour: white Sense organs: nose Tissues: skin Yin organ time: 3-5am Yang organ time: 5-7am

Virtues: purity, self worth, receptivity, inspiration

Autumn in Chinese Medicine welcomes in the metal element phase. In Five Element theory, each element (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood) has special associations with particular areas of life, certain emotions, personalities, shapes, colours, seasons, and organ systems in the human body. The metal element is about letting go and transformation. Autumn is the perfect season to let go of what is no longer working and to make space for all the good that is yet to come.

The Lung and the Large Intestine are the organ systems associated with the metal element and the Autumn season. The Lungs are about inspiration, and the Large Intestine is about elimination. Both organs let go of toxins and absorb essential nutrients needed for life. To promote the release of toxins and elimination, it is the season to support your digestion. Eating raw, cold-natured foods during the cooler months contributes to congestion, heaviness, and lethargy so say goodbye to the salad and opt for warming food such as nourishing soups, stews and stir-frys.

Pumpkins in Chinese Medicine are considered warming in nature, support the digestion and bolster Qi. In Chinese Medicine dietary therapy, pumpkins can also help to reduce pain and swelling, alleviate asthma and kill parasites (pumpkin seeds are widely used as a medicinal in China to eliminate tapeworms).

Leeks together with red curry paste, which contains chilli peppers, garlic, shallots, and lime zest, add “pungency” to the soup, which is the associated flavour of Autumn. The dispersing qualities of these spices not only add complexity to the dominant mellow flavours of this soup, but prevent bloating and abdominal fullness that might occur in other pumpkin dishes, support the lung function and keep our bodies warm as the weather gets nippier.

This particular soup can be saved in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and consumed throughout the work week. The benefits of the warming ingredients, particularly this time of year, are perfect not just for one's digestive health, but for the immune system too.


Serving size

About 2-3

Prep Time / Cook Time

15 minutes / 45 minutes


· 1 ½ cup Roasted pumpkin

· ½ cup Leeks diced

· 60ml Olive oil plus more to brush the pumpkin for roasting

· 400ml Vegetable stock

· ½ Teaspoon Red curry paste

· 2 Teaspoons Maple syrup

· ¼ cup Coconut milk plus more to finish each serving

· ½ Teaspoon Apple cider vinegar

· Salt & pepper to taste

· Choice of fresh herbs to garnish


1. Cut one or two pumpkins in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, depending on size, and remove the skin. Roast the seeds for garnish.

2. Saute leeks in olive oil until just starting to brown, add roasted pumpkin and vegetable stock and simmer until mixture comes together then use a regular blender or immersion blender to completely puree.

3. Depending on how much moisture was still in your roasted pumpkin, you may need to adjust the amount of stock. Stir in the red curry paste and maple syrup and adjust heat and sweetness to your liking. 4. Stir in the coconut milk adding more if you prefer it creamier and balance with a touch of apple cider vinegar. Adjust seasoning as desired.

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