Late Summer is the Fifth Season

Late Summer is the Fifth Season

Cara O. Frank, L.OM.

I first wrote this piece in 2011. Late summer is the season associated with Earth element. Although our calendar does not inlcude a fifth season, we intuitively understand that this is a time that is distinct from both summer and autumn. The light is shifting, our attention is moving towards the future.This is a season of harvest.

Earth is related to the organ and meridian system of the Spleen and its partnered organ the Stomach. In our body, as in nature, the Earth element is concerned with generating, nurturing, abundance and the ripening of the life force. On a mental or emotional level, Earth is in charge of ‘digesting’ our thinking and thoughts, and thus governs learning, thinking and analysis. This element and energy system is also in charge of the flesh, muscles , lips and mouth. The goal of this season is to return to our central core, nourish, generate, and continue to ripen our life force or Qi, as the body at this time is most attuned with Earth. Take time to take care of yourself, nurture yourself, and remember what is important for you to stay balanced and grounded to Earth. Nurture others as well, but without over-extending your energy as your balanced health is most important.

Earth and the Spleen is concerned with digesting our thoughts as well as our food… If our Spleen and Stomach are functioning properly, we are compassionate and empathic. A weakened or disturbed Earth energy system shows up with signs of impaired or dulled thinking, or on the opposite end of the scale, over-thinking and mental churning.

To rebuild and promote Stomach and Spleen Qi, be conscious about easing the work of your stomach in digestion. Soups and stews are gentler on your stomach and focus on vegetables orange or yellow in color during this season.

Here’s a lovely recipe from for a simple carrot soup.

This growing season, I’ve had a lot of fun using vegetable “offal”. I’m including a recipe for carrot top- farro soup ( you can use brown rice if you don’t have farro) that I submitted to food 52 last year. I’m also adding my favorite recipe from this summer: radish top pesto. It’s spicier than basil pesto and has a clean and bright flavor. I spent a week eating it on hard-boiled eggs.

Creamy Carrot Soup

Courtesy of

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, sliced thin

1 bunch fresh sage, leaves only, cleaned

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds

3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)

1 teaspoon white pepper (to taste)

Melt butter in a medium pan on medium-heat. Allow to brown gently and froth.

Add the sage leaves (reserve a few for decoration later) and let crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel.

Add the onion and cook a few minutes until translucent.

Add the carrots and let cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. If the soup is too thick add some hot water during the cooking process. Remove soup from stove and allow to cool for 10-15 minute.

Blend everything in a food blender until smooth. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Serve (great in small shot glasses) with the reserved browned sage and some more fresh sage.

Carrot Top Farro Soup

I entered this recipe last year in the contest for “Your Best Carrot Recipe” on

I hated throwing carrot tops away. It seemed like such a waste. the key was to find a recipe that could handle their strong carroty herbacious flavor. This simple soup is humble and nourishing. The flavor is way more than the sum of it’s parts. Adding the fennel opens up another delicious dimension to the soup, but it’s not necessary. Same with the parmesan rind. without it, the soup is pure clear flavor. with it, the soup develops a meatier unctuousness. You could also sprinkle parmesan on the top after serving. Nice with crusty bread, an escarole salad and a full bodied white wine


1 bunch carrots, with tops

1/2 cup Farro or Brown Rice

3-5 cloves garlic or green garlic

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 parmesan rind

1 cup chopped celery

1 onion, chopped

3-5 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced fennel ( optional)

1 cup fennel pollen

Slice the carrots into rounds like pennies. wash the carrot tops carefully because they can be sandy. chop them finely. chop the fennel pollen if using that.

heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. add the fennel if using it. saute until tender, about 5 minutes

add the rice or farro and stir very well. The grains taste better if they absorb some of fat

add 4 cups of the broth, rice or farro and parmesan rind. season with salt and pepper to taste. simmer for 30-45 minutes until the grains are almost tender. add more stock if needed. add all the chopped greens and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until done. try to find the parmesan rind and fish it out.


Radish Leaf Pesto

3 C radish leaves, stems removed

1 cup basil leaves

3-4 cloves of garlic

1/2 C chopped hazelnuts, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds. just don’t use walnuts. too bitter

1/2 tsp sea salt

fat pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 - 1 C extra virgin olive oil

Put the radish leaves, basil, garlic, nuts, salt and cheese in the food processor. drizzle olive in while it’s running until it’s the right consistency. you won’t need to add pepper because the radish leaves are spicy. You might add some lemon zest to really brighten the flavors.  

About Cara Frank, L.OM.

Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. 1n 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered.

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of the office. She is also the president of China Herb Company You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.

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Best combination acupuncture, herbologist, caregiver in her area. – Well, where to start:

I found Cara via a circuitous route of desperate calls and failed visits to Chinese ‘professionals’ to complement my traditional medicine. I’d been to Chinese doctors who, though I’m certain ‘knew their business’, were unable to extend a personal and caring element that I immediately felt when I contacted Cara. I knew as soon as I spoke to her on the phone, and spent a full 1/2 hour telling her of the myriad of coexistent problems I was experiencing. Though initially I contacted her for womens’ health issues and simple gallstones, eventually, I ended up with very serious health concerns that she was able to assist with as well. She weaves her natural approach to care with a solid awareness of traditional approaches, and - on the rare occasion when purely natural approach is not sufficient on its own - will recommend a solid combined approach. She is not focused solely on her own type of care, if a combination of several ends up helping her patient. It’s not even a question as to whether I would recommend her. I’ve done so repeatedly in the more than 10 years I’ve known her!