For the past fifteen years, I’ve been making Healing Soup for my friends and loved ones when they're in need of extra healing + love.
Healing Soup is not only a lovely gesture to show you care but it falls squarely under the category of "food as medicine".
My doorman swears that “This stuff is magic!”
My doubtful neighbor was visibly surprised when he reported back to me “It actually works, my cold was gone the next day”
And, at the first sign of sniffles, my husband would urgently tell me “I need some of your healing soup.” He now makes his own Healing Soup and guess what? It rocks.
- Shiitake mushrooms
- A lot of garlic
- Black pepper
- Lots of herbs, fresh when possible (parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf)
- Vegetable stock base. Your choice: a) 2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Vegetable Stock OR b) 2 cups homemade stock with about 2T salt OR c) 1/4-1/2 cup of miso
I’ve made some bastard versions of Healing Soup without something or other and it's fine. It's the potency that wanes if you skip any of the above key ingredients, but even without "something", it'll still be delicious and nutritious, so I say just go for it!
The ones that are asterisked, I include almost every time:
- *Olive oil for initial sauté
- *Onion, diced
- *Zucchini, grated
- *Celery, diced
- Carrot, diced
- Daikon, diced
- Mung bean sprouts
- Kale, finely chopped
- Horseradish (to clear the sinuses!)
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium. When oil has heated, add chunky-diced vegetables, sautée for a minute or two on medium.
Add turmeric, pepper, cayenne, and minced garlic, sauté another minute.
Then add your base stock of choice + hot water. I use my tea kettle to boil up water so I don't slow down the soup. You're aiming for a liquid total of about 8-10 cups.
Ginger and fresh herbs go in last.
Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top and a light squeeze of lemon.
The photo above shows a version of Healing Soup blended up with grated zucchini and some kale
A few notes:
- Dry spices should be added at the beginning, so that the early sauté “blooms” the spice. You can toss the spices in whenever but the flavors will be more “integrated” if you bloom your spices at the beginning
- The Better than Bouillon is quite salty so start light, you can always add more later
- If you're using miso, add it after the soup has boiled so as not to kill the beneficial fermentation. Dilute/blend/whisk 1/4 cup miso in 1 cup stock then mix back in to the soup. If you want more miso flavor, repeat until you have the desired saltiness
- I really like Ginger People brand's minced ginger, just scoop and go, so easy! Skip the ginger if you’re not doing asian flavors or if your kid is ginger-averse
- You can substitute white mushrooms if you can’t find shiitake
- Onion and shredded zucchini give the soup a sweetness that appeals to kids
- BONUS TIP: Shredded zucchini tastes delish, adds nutrititive value, lends a delightful green hue to the soup and it also acts as a thickener
The photo above shows Healing Soup made with miso, lots of ginger, vermicelli rice noodles, collard chiffonades and then I dressed it at the end with fresh lemon (too bad I didn't have cilantro!)
Some of the benefits of Healing Soup:
- It contains loads of anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immune-boosting vegetables and herbs. This means it helps keep you healthy!
- It’s full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants; nourishing for your blood, lymph and nerves
- It tames inflammation, which in turn reduces your pain sensitivity
- It's cheap and easy to make
- It freezes well, so you can make it once and enjoy it often
- It’s versatile! Healing Soup can include whatever ingredients you have on hand (although there are a few key ones that form the super-duper healing base)
- It’s easily repurposed to be used in different ways, just think outside the soup bowl!
The best part about Healing Soup is that it's so freaking versatile! So far I've served and/or repurposed Healing Soup in the following ways:
- Serve it chunky “as is” with crusty bread or…
- Serve it over unpearled barley with lots of herbs on top and a squeeze of lemon (lemon assists your body in utilizing the herbs)
- Purée with an immersion blender, right in the cooking pot
- Half n’ half it…immersion blend some of it and leave a few chunks for a satisfying “mouth feel” kind of meal
- Once you’ve got your base broth, you can then add in ramen, udon, soba, rice, unpearled barley (my personal fave!), farro, fonio, fufu, brown rice, faro, egg noodles, you name it!
- Use a quarter to half cup as a base for braising greens
- Use the broth to poach fish or chicken, “en papillote”. To do this you’d wrap your fish or chicken in parchment, add the broth, seal it up and bake.
- Add minced ginger, cilantro, silken tofu and serve with rice noodles (for this version I sub out the veg stock for mild miso)
- Make a ginormous batch and then store at least a quart or so in a freezer bag in your freezer. With or without chunks. You then have the option to reheat the whole quart or just clunk off a chunk to add in to other dishes. I’ve used chunks of frozen soup in fish stew, Indian dal, greens and beans…
- Use the broth to boil potatoes, then mash em up in the broth. You can skip the butter or add to taste. It tastes delish and you’ve upped the nutritional profile of your mashies
- Serve a tea cup of Healing Soup as an appetizer to your main meal.
- For toddlers, add just a tablespoon or two (the non-ginger version) to their Mac n’ cheese or to their plain old pasta n’ butter.
- If you’re feeding kids, try serving them a small portion in a fun ramekin or kid’s bowl about 15-30 minutes before any other food hits the table. This is when they’re hungriest. Make it an “eat this first” kind of deal. We do this every night. As I’m prepping dinner, I cut up some red pepper, cucumber or fennel and serve my son an appy. There’s usually another vegetable with dinner, but if he doesn’t eat it, at least I know he’s had his first veggie course.
I must mention that as I type up this post, it’s March, 2020 and the world is in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. If ever there was a time to break out the Healing Soup, it’s now.
Experts agree that the best way to be prepared for both the flu and/or coronavirus is to a). Wash your hands thoroughly and b). Bolster your immune system.
Make this your own! Healing Soup can include any vegetables and spices that you have on hand. Don't overcomplicate it, just dump it all in a pot and see what happens. The more spices, the more healing.
Let me know how you enjoy it!
Yours in health,
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, this is not a prescription, these facts have not been verified by an independent source.
Among other unique qualifications, I have been a Certified Nutrition Counselor and a Certified Holistic Health Coach since 2008.