Summer dress, winter coat, Pho Bo or Ribolita

Autumn is finally here after a hot, dry month of March that really felt like midsummer.

Melbourne weather, no matter how long you've lived here, is always surprising.  At least in keeps you on your toes; you really have to be in tune with your environment even if it's just to know what to wear each day!  I love walking down a busy Melbourne street and taking in the choices people have made that day: summer dress, winter coat, sensible layers, sandals, boots or shoes.  A constant reminder we are in a state of flux.   

And now as the days get shorter and cooler it's time to let go of that summer Yang energy and start to settle down for the internal Yin months of winter.  It's a time to feed yourself well with warming foods, pleasing tunes and Yoga of course!  In class we will keep warm with our Surya Namaskar and continue to build and cultivate the energy in ours legs with Chakra Mandala and the wide horse stances, but will also focus on varni and paschimottasana to start drawing ourselves in, to settle our vata.  We will also focus on Mayurasana and keep with our seated breathing work as Autumn is the time of lungs and large intestine.  This will also help to keep our minds steady through this changeable season, which is a time when we can often feel unsettled.

Autumn is also the time for soup.  Soup to warm the heart, feed the soul and satisfy the belly.  I find at this time of year there is less work in the garden which leaves more time for cooking and so enjoy taking up much of the day preparing food.  One of my favourite soup recipes is Luke Ngyuen's Pho Bo:

A rich and full flavoured soup that is very satisfying.  Or if you need a veggie hit to keep away those change of season illnesses, the River Cafe's Ribollita is a labour of love well worth the effort.


To cook the canellini beans, soak 75g/3 oz dried beans in a generous amount of water overnight with half a tablespoon bicarbonate of soda. Drain the beans and place in a saucepan, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain again. Pour in enough cold water to cover by about 5cm/2", then add 1 small tomato, half a bulb of garlic, unpeeled, and a few sage leaves. Return to the boil, cover and simmer for about an hour until tender, skimming occasionally. Reserve in cooking water.

  • 150g/5 oz cannellini or borlotti beans, cooked
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 whole head celery, chopped
  • 225g/8 oz carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 550g/1 1/4 lb cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 loaf of stale ciabatta bread, crusts removed, sliced or torn
  • sea salt, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil

Sweat the parsley leaves, garlic, celery, carrot and onion in a large saucepan for about 30 minutes until the flavours combine. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook on a gentle heat for a further 30 minutes, then add the cavolo nero and half the beans with enough of their liquid to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree the remaining beans in a food processor and return to the soup with just enough boiling water to make the soup liquid. Add the bread, a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. As exact amounts are not possible, you must balance the amount of liquid to bread so that the soup is very thick.

Happy chopping and see you in class.



Rebecca Odgers