Cold and flu season is here. The flu is showing up earlier than usual and I know at least four people who are recovering from horrible cases of bronchitis. Please get your flu shots — especially if you are older, are near young grandchildren or have a compromised immune system.
That being said, there are not a lot of things one can do to escape winter illnesses. Nothing will protect you if you step into an elevator and someone is coughing up a lung. Nothing will protect you if someone has failed to wash hands and touches yours and then you scratch that itchy eye. Inevitably, three days later, you want to climb into bed and watch reruns of anything that shows up on the screen.
I have asked countless doctors about ways in which to escape these winter illness. All say the same thing. Do your best to eat healthful foods, exercise, get enough sleep, drink a lot, and take supplements (if you like). The jury is our on that last suggestion. I am a great proponent of certain supplements — vitamin D, of course, and more. It may be the placebo effect, I don’t know, but I think I feel better when I take them.
That being said, here I sit with a terribly sore throat, runny nose and slight fever — that day before the cold really becomes one and makes you miserable for a week. So I went to my kitchen looked for what I had in the fridge and made some vegetarian split pea soup. I am sure chicken soup is in the works this week also!
Soup works. It does all that can be done when a virus takes hold. It loosens stuff, soothes and nourishes. As the winter approaches, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of quarts of frozen soups on hand — just in case.
I do hope you all escape the dreaded head cold or upper respiratory virus, and, most importantly, the flu. Soup is delicious even when you are healthy!
Multi Vegetable Chicken Soup (Meat)
The vegetables makes this almost a meal. And the broth, bone broth especially, is very healthful and soothing.
3 quarts chicken stock or chicken bone broth
2 chicken breasts, whole, skin on
2 onions, whole unpeeled
4 to 6 ribs celery, sliced
4 to 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
Juice from one lemon
1 Tbsp. finely minced lemon grass
2 bay leaves
1 bunch chives, finely minced
Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot and cook, partially covered, for several hours, skimming foam and excess fat and adding more water as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If you like, you can add a bit of red pepper flakes for heat.
Remove the chicken, discard skin and bones and dice chicken. Add it back to the soup. Serves many.
Vegetable Soup with Healing Spices (Pareve or Meat)
The spices in this soup calm inflammation, and loosen secretions from an upper respiratory infection. You can make it as mild or spicy as you like.
3 to 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into eight pieces (about 1 cup)
1 to 2 leeks, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 to 6 large garlic cloves
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, to taste
1 to 2 tsp. turmeric, to taste
1 to 2 tsp. cumin, to taste
1 tsp. coriander, to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 medium celeriac (celery root), cubed (about 3 cups), divided
5 to 7 carrots, sliced (about 2-3 cups)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1-2 cups)
1 to 2 cups cubed butternut squash
Juice from 1/2 lemon
8 to10 oz. Enoki mushrooms, roots removed
1/2 to 1 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 to 3 cups baby spinach leaves
2 quarts vegetable broth, chicken or bone broth, or water
OPTIONAL: 4 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half.
1 cup small broccoli or cauliflower florets, 1 to 2 cups diced tofu
Pinch red pepper flakes
Process the onion leeks and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
Heat a large soup pot over medium to low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions, leeks and garlic and cook until translucent, 5 to 12 minutes.
Add the salt, turmeric, cumin and coriander and mix well. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly until the spices are fragrant. Remove the pot from the heat for a few minutes to keep the spices from burning.
While the onions are cooking, process the celeriac until chopped into pieces, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch. Add to the pot. Thinly slice the carrots and add to the pot. Mix well.
Dice the butternut squash and the potatoes and add to the pot. Add the vegetable broth and mix well. Return the pot to the heat and increase the heat to medium-high.
Add the lemon juice and mix well.
Partially cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 35 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove from the heat and add the mushrooms, scallions and baby spinach. Mix well and cover. Let the soup sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8+.
Creamy Mushroom Soup with Sherry Wine (Dairy)
Sometimes a creamy soup is the perfect dish on a cold winter’s day. Indulge, add a skinny salad and enjoy the decadence!
2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
3-1/2 cups boiling water
1 pound white mushrooms
1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp. butter
3-1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 small to medium onions finely minced
3-1/2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
4 to 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or no-chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream or half and half
1/8 to 1/4 cup dry sherry wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Garnish: 1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms for garnish
Bring 3-1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Once it reaches a full boil, turn off the heat and add the mushrooms. Press them down with a spoon so they absorb the water. Set aside. Let soak for 30 minutes. Place a coffee filter in a strainer and pour the liquid into the strainer set over a large bowl. Set aside. Chop the porcini mushrooms and set aside.
Thinly slice the white mushrooms and the shitake mushrooms and set them aside. Heat a large saucepan, Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the sliced mushrooms and stir. Let heat until the mushrooms are softened and begin to exude liquid, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove about 1/4 cup of the mushrooms and reserve for garnish.
Sprinkle the flour evenly over the mushrooms. I place it in a strainer over the pan and shake it evenly. Mix the mushrooms for about a minute to ensure the flour is cooked and well incorporated.
Add 2-1/2 cups of the reserved mushroom liquid. Mix well. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms to the mushroom mixture and whisk to keep the mixture smooth. Add the veggie stock and heat over medium-low heat. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
Turn off heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it reaches the desired consistency or is very smooth. Add the sherry, mix, taste and add more if needed. Add the half and half and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the minced parsley and mix. Heat gently over medium-low heat to bring back to temperature. Ladle into bowls and garnish with minced mushrooms.
For garnish: Finely mince the 1/4 cup reserved mushrooms in a food processor or by hand. Heat a saucepan and add 1 tsp. of butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms exude liquid and then absorb all the liquid, 3 to 6 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
Place about a half-teaspoon of the mushrooms on each bowl of soup. For a really decadent treat, drizzle about a half teaspoon of truffle oil over the top of the mushrooms and the soup. Serves 6 to 8.