Sometimes we feel a little run-down. All that revelry and rich food is actually tiring, and can take a toll on our immune systems. In these quieter days, it is wise to rebuild with healing foods. Soups like these, loaded with superfoods and immune-boosters, will keep you strong year round! (Each recipe serves 4.)
Curried Kidney Bean Stew
In a large pot, sauté 1 cup of chopped onions in a couple teaspoons of oil. When soft, add a tablespoon each of chopped garlic and ginger and cook for a minute, stirring. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and stir until fragrant. Add 3 cups water or boxed chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium), 1 tsp brown sugar, and a 14 oz can of kidney beans, drained. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, stir in 2 cups of chopped salad spinach and cook just until bright green. Add salt and cayenne to taste (the more cayenne, the better for your heart!)
Per serving: 124 calories, 2 g total fat, (0 g saturated fat), 6 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 315 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.
Star nutrients: Vitamin K (96%), fiber (27%), manganese (22%), folate (18%), vitamin C (15%).
Kidney beans are high in fiber, protein and iron, and the red skins contain antioxidants. They are recommended for lowering blood pressure, losing weight, and heart health. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory herb, thought to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Cinnamon is recommended for keeping blood sugar in balance.
Miso Soup with Edamame or Tofu
In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water or vegetable stock to a simmer. Add 2 cups of chopped cabbage or kale and 1 cup of chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add either 2 cups of frozen, shelled edamame or a box of firm silken tofu, cubed, and simmer gently to warm through. Take out ½ cup of warm liquid and put it in a bowl with 4 tbs miso and 1 tbs lite soy sauce, mash the miso to a smooth paste, then stir back into soup. Serve in bowls topped with chopped scallions.
Per serving: 157 calories, 5 g total fat, (1 g saturated fat), 12 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 795 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.
Star nutrients: Folate (67%), vitamin K (66%), manganese (52%), vitamin C (34%), fiber (26%), copper (20%), phosphorus (18%), magnesium (17%).
Cabbage, Kale and Onions are full of antioxidants and sulphur compounds that are antibacterial. Edamame, tofu and miso are recommended for lowering cholesterol, as well as having high protein and other minerals. Miso is especially beneficial for digestion because it contains enzymes, and has more cancer-fighting compounds from being fermented.
Thai Chicken Soup for a Cold
In a large pot, heat a teaspoon of oil and sauté a teaspoon of red curry paste (or a pinch of red pepper flakes) and a couple cloves of chopped garlic. Add 6 cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add a handful of broken angelhair pasta and simmer for 4 minutes, then add 3 cups broccoli florets, 2 cups cooked chicken, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 tbs Asian fish sauce (or soy sauce) and simmer just a couple of minutes. Squeeze in 3 tbs of fresh lime juice and serve with chopped fresh holy basil, chiles and scallions on top. Bonus points for extra crushed garlic and chiles.
Per serving: 251 calories, 5 g total fat, (2 g saturated fat), 32 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 67 mg cholesterol, 613 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Star nutrients: Niacin (70%), vitamin C (40%), selenium (28%), vitamin B6 (22%), riboflavin (16%), phosphorus (16%), chromium (15%), thiamin (15%).
Curry paste and hot chiles are antibacterial, as well as high in vitamin C, and raise your metabolism when you eat them. Broccoli is high in cancer fighting chemicals, and eating it with high-C lime juice allows you to absorb more of the calcium. Holy Basil is recommended to clear out a cold, as well as to normalize blood sugar and as an antioxidant.
Sweet Potato-Garlic Soup
In a large pot, sauté an onion in 2 tsps oil. Add 4 cups of peeled, cubed sweet potato and 8 whole cloves garlic. Add just enough water or stock to almost cover the sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are falling apart and the garlic is tender. Carefully transfer to a blender and hold the lid down with a towel as you puree. Thin to desired consistency with more stock and season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Serve with dollops of fat free yogurt.
Per serving: 154 calories, 2 g total fat, (0 g saturated fat), 3 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
Star nutrients: Vitamin A (377%), manganese (24%), vitamin B6 (19%), fiber (18%).
Sweet potatoes are loaded with bright orange carotenoids, healthy fiber, and antioxidants. Add lots of garlic and you get cold-fighting antibacterials.
In a large pot, combine 6 cups of water with 6 large dried shiitake mushrooms, 4 peeled and halved garlic cloves, a chopped onion, a large branch of fresh rosemary, and half a cup of pearled barley. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove the rosemary and shiitakes with a slotted spoon, and replace with 2 cups of sliced button or fresh shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for 3-5 minutes to soften, then taste and season with salt and cracked black pepper.
Per serving: 273 calories, 0 g total fat, (0 g saturated fat), 13 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 25 g fiber.
Star nutrients: Fiber (99%), iron (23%), manganese (21%).
Shiitake mushrooms are adaptogens, meaning that they strengthen the immune system in a deep way, and recent research shows that button mushrooms are, too. Barley is full of the beta-glucans fiber we all eat oats for, which lowers cholesterol and balances blood sugars. Rosemary is an immune-booster, too.