Between the indulgences of the holidays, and all of the mingling with friends and relatives carrying germs from near and far, January can be a month where we are especially susceptible to colds and flus. This yummy soup packs a big-immune boosting punch to carry us through the remainder of the flu season. I had a frozen turkey carcass left over from Christmas and used this, but this recipe can be made just as easily with chicken. I recommend making a big batch of the broth to freeze and have on hand if anyone in your family starts to get the sniffles.
A word on the immune boosting ingredients:
Bone broth: Making a broth from bones provides lots of electrolytes and minerals and is very nourishing. This recipe calls for adding a Tbsp of white vinegar to the bones as you make the broth. The vinegar helps to pull the minerals from the bones into the broth.
Astragalus: Astragalus root is deeply immune boosting. It is used commonly in Western and Chinese herbal medicine to help strengthen and balance the immune system and is one of the best herbs for people who are frequently sick with colds and flus. You can find dried astragalus root at both herbal and Chinese food stores. I got this batch from Gaia Garden, on West Broadway.
Mushrooms: Pretty much every variety of mushrooms besides the common white button mushroom is medicinal in some way. I used both dried and fresh Shiitake mushrooms, as well as a powdered 6 mushroom blend from Gaia Garden. These mushrooms help boost the production of white blood cells that fight infections, and tonify the entire immune system.
Garlic: If I had to make a list of the most useful plants, garlic would be high on that list. It is antioxidant, beneficial for the cardiovascular system, and strongly antimicrobial – meaning it kills viruses and bacteria. Raw garlic is more potent than cooked. If cooking with garlic, keep the pot covered with a lid to help retain some of its antimicrobial properties.
Ginger: Ginger is a very warming herb and is great for stimulating blood circulation and helping ward off infections.
Vegetables: The veggies in this soup provide many of they key nutrients required to keep your immune system running.
Shopping list (This includes everything you need to make the broth and the soup):
- 1 turkey or chicken carcass (frozen is fine, just allow to thaw for a few hours before using)
- 6-7 sticks celery
- 6 -7 carrots
- 2 onions
- 2 bulbs of garlic
- 1 large piece fresh ginger root
- 1 bunch kale
- mushrooms: dried and/or fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 cup brown rice (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- dried or fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- Cooked turkey or chicken meat
Herbal Immune boosters – available from herbal dispensary or Chinese food stores – see above.
- 3/4 cup dried, sliced Astragalus root
- 6 mushroom blend – powdered (*optional)
First, make the broth:
Pick any remaining meat off of the carcass and set aside. Place the carcass in a large pot (you may need to cut or break into smaller pieces to allow it to fit). Fill the pot with enough water to cover the carcass by 1 inch.
- Chop up 3 pieces of celery (or more if desired) and 3 carrots into large chunks.
- Chop 1 onion, and 1 bulb of garlic into large chunks with the peel on.
- Chop mushrooms into large pieces.
- Thinly slice a 3 inch piece of ginger.
- Roughly chop a handful of parsley
- Add chopped celery, onion, garlic, ginger, parsley to the broth pot.
- Add bay leaves, astragalus root and dried shiitake mushrooms (if using).
- Add 1 Tbsp of vinegar
- Season with thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 3-4 hours (leaving the pot uncovered while simmering allows for the water to reduce more, making a richer broth- but in the process some of the good immune boosting components are lost, so I recommend a longer simmer time with the lid on).
- When the broth has simmered long enough to taste good, you can strain the broth and start to make the soup. If you find your broth too watery, you can add some organic bouillon for extra flavour.
Making the soup:
- Chop the remaining celery, carrots and onion (peels off this time) parsley and the kale.
- Chop the cooked turkey or chicken meat.
- Peel and mince 3-4 cloves of garlic and a 3 inch piece of ginger root.
- Lightly fry the onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil until almost tender in a large pot.
- Add celery, carrots and parsley.
- Add the strained broth to the pot.
- Add brown rice.
- Add chopped turkey or chicken meat, and the meat salvaged from the bone
- Season with salt, pepper, thyme. If you like a little spice, adding some cayenne can give the soup a nice little zing.
- Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 25-30 mins, or until rice is almost tender.
- Once rice is almost tender, add fresh shiitake mushrooms (if using), and the chopped kale.
- Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until kale is tender but not mushy.
- Once Kale is tender, the soup is ready to eat! If you are using powdered mushroom blend, add to the soup just before serving.
If you are looking for other ways to fight the flu, there are lots of natural alternatives to the flu shot that are safe for the entire family. Book an appointment today for more details!