Even health coaches come down with colds. When I start to feel the tell-tale symptoms, I get out the door as fast as I can, collect these 4 cold killing ingredients and make a huge batch of soup. From there, I go to bed (if it’s at all possible) and administer steady doses of hot tea and hot, sour and spicy soup. Remember to feed your cold and while this soup is complimented by a host of vegetable variations, be sure and include these 4 key ingredients:
Garlic: In addition to its cardio vascular, anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting benefits, garlic contains antibacterial and antiviral properties to fight infection. Note: crush your cloves and let them sit for up to several minutes to release the oils before chopping and cooking.
Lime: High in vitamin C, limes (and lemons) stimulate immune cells and have an antioxidant and antibiotic effect. Use fresh when possible.
Chili peppers: Containing capsaicin, chili peppers fight inflammation and offer natural pain relief. The hotter the pepper (think habanero) the more capsaicin. Jalapenos and serrano peppers are often easier to find in your super market and not quite as hot as habeneros. Chili peppers also stimulate secretion that helps clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs, they are high in vitamin C and beta-carotene. Peppers are also high in vitamin A, often called the anti-infection vitamin.
Cilantro: Full of vitamin C, cilantro contains a volatile oil that has antimicrobial properties, this herb is phytonutrient dense and flushes toxins and oxygenates the blood. If you don’t care for the taste of cilantro or can’t find fresh, try parsley or basil. You can still use the more tender stems of these herbs just making sure you chop them fine and add them as instructed in the recipe.
For years I’ve called this Mexican minestrone but if you use lemongrass and a dash of fish sauce or soy, it could just as easily be a version of a Thai classic.
2 med onion, chopped, about 2 cups
3 ribs of celery chopped into 1/4 “ pieces, with leaves
1 lb. peeled carrots, chopped into 1/2 “ pieces
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1-2 limes (lemons are ok too, I prefer limes because they have stronger anti-microbial properties)
1-2 serrano or jalepeno peppers, chopped fine (test for heat, remove seeds if they are atomic, wash your hands immediately after handling)
6-7 cups water or vegetable stock (I use a vegan, organic, no salt vegetable bouillon in cubes if I don’t have any of my own veggie stock in the freezer).
1 bunch cilantro, washed thoroughly, finely chop the stems about 1” from the bottom, then rough chop the leaves, keep the leaves and stems separate. You will add them at different times.
1 cup string beans cut into 1” pieces (fresh)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
2 med. Zucchinis diced to 1/2”
Chard, kale, spinach by the handful (about 2 cups, torn or rough chop)
Spice options / any or all:
1 TBL tumeric (anti inflammatory, pain reliever)
1 TBL dried oregano (great antiseptic)
1TBL dried basil (blood cleaner)
Salt and pepper at the end to taste
1 cup or 1 can of drained cooked garbanzo beans
1-2 cups cooked brown rice.
In a large dutch oven, warm about 2 TBL of olive oil, add onions and sweat, stirring occasionally till translucent, about 6 minutes. Add celery and chopped ribs of chard (if you’re using chard), cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, add carrot, cilantro stems, half the chopped garlic, chopped chili peppers and any dried herbs you’re using. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, if needed, add a little water to the pot to keep ingredients from sticking.
Add vegetable stock/ water, bring soup to a boil, add zucchini, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for about 10 minutes, till all the vegetables are tender. Add chard and / or kale leaves and remaining garlic, let cook another 2-3 minutes. Add rice, beans (if using), juice of 1 or more limes, cilantro leaves, salt and pepper.
Let sit for 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Adjust and add more lime or salt as needed.