Is it just me or is everyone surrounded by friends, family, and co-workers who have a nasty cold that culminates in viscous congestion that sticks around for two weeks? Maybe you’ve been hit by the bug, yourself, and you sound like Macy Gray after smoking a carton of cigarettes and winning a screaming contest. (The year 1999 called, Meilina, and wants its pop culture references back.)
Luckily, there are delicious, healthful alternatives to Emergen-C packets and canned chicken soup. A perfect “winter soup,” as Nina Simonds calls it, is a good way to stave off a cold or flu or help recover from one. I’ve modified Nina’s recipe using ingredients easily found in a local supermarket, health food store, or produce stand. Additionally, I’ve omitted a few ingredients to save time, but have kept the key immune-boosting ingredients–leeks, garlic and mushroom, all of which help fight infection. So, while you’ll still have to do some prep, it’s simple and quick even for someone pushing through fatigue and phlegm. Better still, have someone else prepare it for you. Even if their only kitchen skill is boiling water, this recipe is really easy. Just don your most comfortable PJs, affect your best puppy dog eyes, and, if all else fails, pull an, “if you love me, you’ll cook me homemade soup” guilt-trip.
Mushroom and Leek Soup
12 shiitake mushrooms
4 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken, or mushroom)
1 cup leeks, julienned
1 large carrot, julienned
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1/3 cup rice wine, mirin or sake
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1. Cut stems from mushrooms and discard them. Cut the mushroom caps, leeks and carrot into thin julienne matchstick-size slices.
2. In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oils until hot, about 20 seconds. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, leeks and carrots and stir-fry over high heat for about 2 1/2 minutes. Add the rice wine and cook for another minute. Add the broth ingredients simmer for another few minutes until hot. Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 4-6.
What cold and flu remedies do you like? Are there any tried and true cures that you’ve found successful?