Nothing is quite as comforting as a big steaming bowl of soup in the winter, especially if you’re feeling under the weather. Even better? Eating that soup when you feel well, and having it help you stay well until spring.
With cold and flu season underway, there is a lot you can do to stay healthy just by being mindful of what you put into your body. Making a batch of homemade soup is a particularly easy way to combine a variety of ingredients that contain compounds and nutrients your body needs to fight off bacteria.
Allium veggies, for instance, contain alliin, a compound which converts to allicin, and has proven to be a major antibacterial compound in garlic and onions, as well as a powerful antioxidant. Green veggies like kale, broccoli and bok choy contain vitamins A and C, which protect against free radicals to keep cells strong and reduce your chances of getting sick.
Mushrooms contain a slew of nutrients and enzymes terrific for boosting immunity. Plus, certain varieties contain compounds that bolster anti-inflammatory and anti-viral functions in the body and help the body produce cells that protect against invading bacteria, viruses and pathogens. They’re also a good source of Vitamin D, a key component of a healthy immune system.
Fats, too, can help the body stay well. Coconut oil, for example, contains monolaurin, a compound that is both antiviral and antibacterial. It’s also great for your gut, which is where the majority of the body’s immune function happens.
How you season your food can also have a powerful impact on your immune health. Pepper, turmeric and ginseng all have properties that boost immune function, promoting anti-inflammation, countering bacteria and encouraging production of disease-fighting cells.
Stock up on these immune-boosting ingredients and break out your biggest soup pot—you’re going to need them to whip up these nourishing, yummy one-pot meals.
1. Mushroom White Pepper Immunity Soup
This versatile, easy-to-make soup from 101 Cookbooks is your immune system’s dream come true. Packed with onions and garlic—both allium veggies—and a healthy dose of nutrient-rich mushrooms, this vegan dish makes for a great soup on its own, or a heartier meal served over rice or soba noodles. You can use whatever kind of mushrooms you wish, but for extra health benefits, choose enoki or black trumpet varieties, which you can find at most Asian markets and health food stores. Recipe here.
2. The Ultimate Immune-Boosting Soup
A fiesta of good health in a bowl, Healthy Maven’s Ultimate Immune-Boosting Soup contains a host of good-for-you ingredients, including mushrooms, coconut oil and turmeric. It’s also packed with garlic, kale and bok choy, and is flavored beautifully to make the most delicious warming winter meal. Recipe here.
3. Chicken Soup with Veggies
There’s a reason Grandma always made chicken noodle soup when you were sick as a kid—the hot broth helps clear up sinuses and alleviate congestion. Plus, it’s comforting and delicious, so you feel better by association. Eat Yourself Skinny’s detox-take on this classic is easy to make and extra yummy. She suggests using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for ease of preparation. We recommend extra garlic for extra oomph. Recipe here.
4. Carrot Ginger Soup
When you think of veggies that are great for your immune system, think bright orange, like carrots, sweet potatoes and peppers. Their high Vitamin A content provides a disease-fighting boost, and the antioxidant benefits of these brightly hued foods are off the charts.
Combining roasted carrots with turmeric, garlic and ginger in this warming soup from The Mediterranean Dish is a great way to stay healthy through the winter. The deep flavor of the roasted veggies is unique, and the allspice makes this taste a little like a savory Thanksgiving pie. Swap out the heavy cream for coconut milk to “veganize” (and to reduce mucus production if you’re dealing with congestion). Recipe here.
5. Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup
Packing a double-punch of immune-boosting and detox-promoting benefits, broccoli is a body’s best friend for wintertime cold prevention. Broccoli contains a unique combination of phytochemicals that help neutralize and eliminate pathogens. Also, they’re high in Vitamin C and compounds that keep the immune system humming along.
I Love Vegan’s super inventive non-dairy cream soup is a great way to keep your body healthy and your taste buds happy. (This soup has roasted broccoli croutons!) Accented with garlic, turmeric, carrots, celery and onion, this nourishing soup is intensely good for you but feels like a treat. We’ll be making this in huge batches all winter long. Recipe here.
6. Daal Tadka
According to Ayurvedic medicine, vegetarian proteins like split peas and lentils enhance immunity. This spicy, warming daal from Chef de Home combines all of the best bacteria- and inflammation-fighters, like ginger, garlic and turmeric, with dainty, easy-to-cook moong daal. It’s also subtly flavored with chopped hot green peppers, which are great for the circulatory system, opening blood vessels and reducing congestion. Serve on its own or over rice or quinoa. Recipe here.
7. Miso Soup with Kale and Lentils
This unique take on miso soup from From the Ground Up Wellness is packed with garlic, lentils, kale and mushrooms and is a quick wintertime dinner, serving up a pile of health-boosting heavy-hitters. Miso is awesome for disease resistance, too. As a probiotic food, it boosts your gut health and provides a dose of friendly bacteria. More friendly bacteria to crowd out unfriendly bacteria means a stronger, healthier flu season for you. Recipe here.
8. Healing Bone Broth Veggie Soup
The collagen in bone broth is extra nourishing for your gut. Combine it with greens, garlic, high-fiber parsnips and vitamin-rich sweet potatoes, as in this Healing Veggie Soup from Total Body Nourishment, and you have a recipe for whole-body, no-cold wellness. Adjust the veggies and spices to your liking. A little extra black pepper will go a long way in your crusade against coughs. Recipe here.
9. Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup
A little on the adventurous side, especially if you’re not used to shopping in Asian grocery stores, this light, flavorful Korean classic from My Korean Kitchen is a powerhouse when it comes to bolstering your ability to kick the flu. For centuries, ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine and Asian cooking to keep the immune system in balance and enhance resistance to disease from microbes. Ginseng regulates the production of immune system cells and has been shown to control inflammatory diseases and infections. Also, it’s so good. Recipe here.
10. Turmeric Broth
A powerful antioxidant, turmeric is an ideal ingredient for fighting off sickness and can help the body detoxify from exposure to pathogens. This broth from Feasting at Home is easy to make and a great base for anything you feel inclined to toss in a pot. Add greens, noodles, beans, rice, chicken or chopped starchy veggies for a varied, toothsome meal, all nestled in a bright, healing broth. Recipe here.