The Immunity-Boosting Soup to Make the Second You Start Feeling Sick

Photo by Masha Davydova
This year’s flu season has been the worst the US has seen in over a decade—and it’s not getting better, experts say. While everyone around you may be coughing and calling out of work, you can take matters into your own hands, keeping your immune system in tip-top shape by making good use of a few key ingredients. (These seven immunity-enhancing health tips will help, too.)

anya kassof
Simply Vibrant author Anya Kassof Photo: Anya Kassof

Simply Vibrant author and Golubka Kitchen blogger Anya Kassof shares a recipe for her go-to meal this time of year: a healing squash and chickpea soup. “I make it everytime I or anyone in my family starts showing any signs of a cold coming on,” says Kassof. “I really believe in its powers, since I've watched myself and many of my friends and family get immediate cold relief from drinking the broth on numerous occasions.”

The secret is in the broth, which is a powerful infusion of ingredients that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties: ginger, turmeric, lemon, garlic, lemongrass, and kombu. Combined, they make for a golden yellow broth that can provide an instant pick-me-up—and help you reach your goals for fluid intake, another key component of fighting off a cold.

The ingredients are completely customizable, whether you want to swap out some of the broth flavors or try another star vegetable besides squash. The only ingredients Kassof doesn’t recommend skipping are the turmeric and black pepper. “We all know that turmeric is the modern day star of all anti-inflammatory plants, and it's a great idea to reach for it whenever you're feeling unwell,” says Kassof. “The trick is to always combine your turmeric with a bit of black pepper, since the pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric.”

Combine this soup with getting enough water and sleep, and it’s a recipe for staying well all winter.

Keep reading for the healing soup recipe.

Simply Vibrant
Photo: Roost Books

Healing squash and chickpea soup

Serves 4 to 6

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite-size cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in purified water overnight
4-inch piece kombu
9 cups purified water
2 lemongrass stalks, cut crosswise into thirds, then halved lengthwise and bruised with the back of a knife
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled if not organic and diced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 small chili, seeded and minced
Handful of kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1/2 medium bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves separated
2 lemons
2 to 3 large kale leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 Tbsp tamari

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the squash on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with the coconut oil. Toss to coat. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast the squash for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is soft throughout. Remove the squash from the oven and set it aside.

3. In the meantime, drain the chickpeas and place them in a large soup pot along with the kombu and water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, skim any foam from the surface, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chickpeas are soft. Add a pinch or two of salt during the last ten minutes of cooking. When the chickpeas are done cooking, drain them in a colander set over a large, heatproof bowl. Pour the broth back into the same pot. Discard the kombu and set the chickpeas aside.

4. Add the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili, kaffir lime leaves, if using, and cilantro stems to the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook partially covered for ten minutes until the broth is infused and fragrant. Remove the pot from heat. Add the juice of one lemon, cover the pot, and let the liquid infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large, heatproof bowl and discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the pot.

5. Add the chickpeas and kale to the broth, bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a strong simmer and cook for five minutes. Add the roasted squash and bring the broth to a near boil one more time to warm the squash through. Add the juice of the remaining lemon, along with the tamari. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt as needed.

6. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves before serving.

From Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff © 2018 by Anya Kassoff. Photographs © 2018 by Masha Davydova. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc.

If you're looking for more ways to boost your immune system, try this immunity-boosting tonic and work these ten cold-fighting foods into your everyday diet.

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