This soup for when you’re sick recipe was born while I suffered through a bad bout of bronchitis. The idea here was that having an easy soup recipe to make when I am not feeling well is nice, but even better is when I have some freezer meal soups stored away for such times as these.
Thankfully, I had done some research previously on immune boosting foods and I included six of them in this one little recipe. Because, best of all, when I am sick, not only do I want easy meals to make and that can be made ahead, but I want meals that are healthy and healing for my body, too.
Why this is the Best Soup For Sick People
This is a super easy soup recipe to make, especially when the last thing you feel like doing is cooking. It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish if you have the following healing foods on hand:
- fresh whole garlic
- wakame seaweed
- sesame oil
- bone broth
- cayenne pepper
- red pepper flakes
All of these ingredients are pretty easy to get at your local grocery store, but if you can source these superfoods for immune system health organically, do so. There really isn’t anything we can’t order on the internet these days!
Bone broth is best if you make it yourself, and this can be done ahead of time and frozen for when you need it. It takes some time to make your own bone broth at home, but at least you’ll know exactly what is in it. I can’t stress this enough! When it comes to food to improve the immune system, you sure as heck don’t want any adulterants or additives in there because they will just cancel out anything good these healing foods can do for you.
If you’ve never made bone broth before, it is really pretty easy. The next time you have rotisserie chicken, short ribs, a spiral cut ham… don’t toss the bones, skin or cartilage away. Boil them in water and throw in carrot greens, onions skins, herbs that you need to use up if they are beginning to wilt… whatever you need to clean out of your fridge or aren’t using for something else. I let it all simmer over a low heat for up to 4 hours.
Strain out the solids and you’ve got bone broth – which can be frozen if need be. If you don’t have any bones sitting around, your local butcher may be willing to unload theirs if you ask. It can’t hurt!
Why these are Immune Boosting Foods:
Let’s break this down, shall we? I think you may find it interesting to know how these healing foods actually work!
FRESH WHOLE GARLIC
The important thing to remember here is that you want to reap what is in the garlic skins. Sure, garlic itself adds lots of healthy benefits and it lends a nice flavor and aroma to foods, but the skins are where it’s at when it comes to making the best broth for sickness.
Did you know that the skins of garlic are rich in nutrients and have many health benefits? So, don’t throw them away! Garlic skins contain vitamins A, C, and E, and the phenylpropanoid antioxidants in garlic skins contain immune boosting properties among many other great benefits, such as the ability to lower cholesterol and slow aging. Learn more about the health benefits of garlic skins and be amazed!
With that said, how do you eat garlic skins? I mean, they are not the most texturally pleasant thing to put in your mouth.
The good news is that you won’t actually be ‘eating’ them. When you toss the garlic – skins and all – into the boiling soup, the heat will extract the nutrients and minerals and infuse the broth with them. I actually keep the skins in the soup even when I store it and just remove them before serving. This way I know I am getting the maximum amount of the good stuff infused into the broth.
This is a brown or deep green seaweed that is used commonly in Japanese cuisine. It has gained popularity recently – especially in vegan diets – because of the extensive list of health benefits it harbors.
The main ingredient in wakame that makes this soup the best soup for congestion is fucoxanthin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Since many respiratory illnesses aggravate the tissues of the sinuses, nose, throat and lungs which results in slower healing and blocked mucus, it makes sense that to reduce inflammation will accelerate healing of – and the clearing of – nasal passages, sinuses, and lungs.
There is so much more that wakame has to offer as well, such as improving bone health, balancing hormones, and improving skin and hair. You can read more on the health benefits of wakame seaweed if you want to know just how beneficial this seaweed truly is!
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I just can’t get enough of sesame oil. I love the flavor, first and foremost, plus it’s the ingredient that adds such a nice crunch to my Crunchy Fried Rice (and I use a LOT of it in there). But the health benefits of sesame oil are many, and that is why I use it in this soup for cold and cough.
Sesame oil contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps to lower anxiety, stress, and depression – all things that can be amplified when we are sick. Sesame oil also contains zinc which is not only an immune boosting nutrient, but zinc also aids in the healing of taste and smell that can be dulled or lost as a result of illness.
If you’ve ever lost your senses of taste and smell, you know how depressing this can be, especially if you love the foodie experience as much as I do. When I had COVID late last year, I lost all of my taste and smell – and I mean ALL – for almost a month. It was slow to come back (several more weeks), and needless to say, frustrating.
All things considered, there is a reason sesame oil has been used for centuries in Asian cuisine, plus there are lots of ways to use sesame oil in addition to putting it in food. Learn more about how the health benefits of sesame oil can help you!
Bone broth is just plain comforting when you are sick, and it is dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free, too!
I have fond memories of clear broths – well, not fond as a result of the circumstances, but fond because of how broth helped me at one of the sickest times of my life.
As a child I had been hospitalized with a respiratory illness that had gone untreated for too long and caused throat ulcers. One of the ulcers in particular was so bad that it took over my entire tonsil on one side and covered that whole section of my throat.
Forget about eating …anything!
It was too painful, and add to that the terrible fevers that came with this illness.
I was in the hospital for a week, and once I was able to get past being fed intravenously, I was allowed to have what the doctor called a ‘clear fluids diet’. That means just what it sounds like, and every day I got to choose from a list of jello flavors, clear juices, and broths.
Hot broth is not only nutritious, it just feels good going down when everything else in you feels rotten. The amino acids in bone broth can promote sleep, something we all need lots of when sick. They also help reduce inflammation and help with digestion, among some other neat things.
Learn more about the health benefits of bone broth and get inspired to make some of your own!
CAYENNE PEPPER & RED PEPPER FLAKES
I am going to be honest here – if it has capsaicin in it, I will probably love it.
Capsaicin is what makes hot peppers hot. Its molecular structure is such that it fits into pain receptors in our brain – the ones that signal that something in our body is on fire and burning – and tricks them into thinking that we are burning at a much lower temperature.
In essence, capsaicin provides the sensation of burning without actually having to be burned. It’s pretty harmless in that sense, even though you may think your mouth is literally on fire when you eat chili peppers.
The capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to ease sneezing, reduce post-nasal drip, decrease stuffiness, and calm all sorts of other ailments associated with the mucus buildup that comes along with colds, flus and other respiratory illnesses. This is because capsaicin helps shrink the blood vessels in the nose and throat when inhaled or consumed.
Capsaicin is also an effective antibacterial agent. ‘Nuf said.
What’s not to love about hot peppers? Learn about the health benefits of cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper – and make sure you inhale the vapors deeply before you sip this healing soup for cold and cough!
Why I love this Sick Soup Recipe
The last thing I feel like doing while sick is cooking (especially in the hotter months) but cooking is necessary if we want to eat and can’t get out of the house (for obvious reasons). The good news is that this sick soup is easy to make and only takes 20 minutes if you keep a few items on hand.
Dried wakame and sesame oil will keep indefinitely when stored properly, and the rest of the ingredients are easy to get if you need to send someone out for a quick run to the grocery store when not feeling well.
Since I am plagued with a compromised upper respiratory system and have had bronchitis and pneumonia more times than I can remember (add to that COVID – only once, thank goodness), I always have these healthy ingredients on hand… just in case.
As for the tortellini and bone broth? These can be kept in the freezer for weeks – or even months if stored properly.
Soup for When You are Sick is one of the best freezer meal soups, too! It can be made in big batches and frozen for when it’s needed later, whether for yourself or for someone you know who is just down on their luck.
Serve it piping hot, and if you can, inhale the steam in between bites. The rest of the soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and believe me, you will want to have it every day until you are feeling better!
Soup For When You Are Sick
- dutch oven or large pot
- large ladle
- heat-proof soup bowls
- 5 cups bone broth
- 2 cups water
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 head organic garlic cut in half crosswise with skins left on
- 2 tbsp dried wakame
- 2 cups frozen tortellini of your choice
- 2 tsp sesame oil for drizzling
- red pepper flakes for garnish
- Bring the bone broth and water to a rigorous boil over medium-high heat.
- Stir in the cayenne, garlic, scallions, wakame, and tortellini. Allow to simmer for another 5-8 minutes, or until the tortellini is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Use a ladle to spoon the soup into small crocks or heat-proof bowls. Drizzle with sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately, you want this soup to be piping hot!
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