Winter seems to bring sniffles and sore throats no matter how well you look after yourself. I try to avoid getting sick in the cooler months by paying close attention to diet and exercise, even when it’s dark and rainy outside. I still get a cold or two each year, but I tend to fight bugs quickly and get back to normal within two days.
When I do feel a cold setting in, I head straight to the kitchen and make tea with lemon and raw honey. I’ll also make a big batch of vegetable soup packed with fresh herbs and a hint of chilli. It’s both nourishing and comforting, and convenient if you’re at home unwell for a few days. To treat a sore throat, I gargle warm saltwater a few times a day and also have a spoonful of raw honey. Salt helps reduce bacteria growth and unprocessed honey also has antibacterial benefits. These are easy remedies to find if you’re suddenly struck down at work or travelling too.
My boyfriend recently got a winter bug and the doctor’s advice was simply to stay warm and rest. I turned to our humble apartment kitchen to try find a remedy. We had carrots, fresh ginger, garlic and a packet of dried shiitake mushrooms. I cooked this soup within 30 minutes and it was too good not to share! It’s delicious, nutrient-packed and has a serious ginger kick.
How does it help you in winter? Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A (330% of recommended daily intake in a medium carrot), which is vital for immune function. Ginger and garlic have antimicrobial benefits and add a strong, medicinal flavour to this soup. Dried shiitake mushrooms have been shown to boost immunity, and they also add umami which is known as the ‘fifth taste’ after salty, sweet, sour and bitter. You can find dried shiitake mushrooms for around $3-4 a packet in the Asian section of most grocery stores, either whole or sliced. Enjoy!
my immune boosting soup
Serves 2 | Gluten-free | Vegan | Low calorie | Budget-friendly
Time: 30 minutes (5 mins prep, 15 mins cooking + 10 mins soaking)
- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 cups water (1 cup hot , 1 cup room temperature)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or roughly chopped
- 1cm (half-inch) fresh ginger, sliced
- 5 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp salt-reduced soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
- Place shiitake mushrooms in a bowl with 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water. Let soak for 10 minutes, then let them continue soaking while you start on the soup.
- Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan.
- Sauté garlic and ginger for 2 – 3 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add sliced carrots and remaining 1 cup of water, plus half the shiitake mushroom water.
- Bring to a boil then simmer on medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes, or until carrots are soft but not soggy.
- Blend 3/4 of the soup using a hand held mixer or machine (I use my Vitamix). Be careful when blending hot liquids as they can explode when you remove the lid.
- Return the blended mix to the saucepan and add soy sauce and remaining shiitake mushroom water (keeping mushrooms separate). Stir and reheat if necessary.
- Slice the shiitake mushrooms. They should be soft but slightly chewy.
- Divide soup into two bowls, and serve topped with the mushrooms and fresh herbs.
Leftovers will keep a day or two in the refrigerator. This recipe is easy to double too. It’s so delicious, I’m going to recreate it all winter! Next time, I’ll try topping it with roasted chickpeas for a protein boost.
QUESTION: What’s your favourite cold and flu remedy?