When we received a package of Avena Botanicals’ Immune Soup mix a few weeks ago, I’ll admit I immediately had the impression of a bag of twigs and toadstools. However, knowing Avena Botanicals, I realized it would be smart to look beyond appearances and see what useful ingredients they had sent us.
Those dried materials, as it turns out, were some of nature’s hardest-hitting immune-boosting herbs: astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus), burdock root (Arctium lappa), codonopsis (Codonopsis sp.), reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) and shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes). Though I cook with shitake mushrooms all the time now, I wasn’t certain how this combination would taste as an actual culinary blend.
However, having been sick off and on for nearly six weeks from a bad flu bug that grabbed hold and hasn’t wanted to let go, I was ready to give my immune system some jet fuel, and hold my nose if I needed to do that to get it down. So over the weekend I made some fabulous chicken soup, which I flavored with five-spice powder and the Immunity Soup.
I expected to hold my nose and just “take” the soup like a good soldier. I didn’t expect it to be tasty and to add such a nice depth of flavor to my soup. But I really love what it has done to what was already a pretty tasty soup. Now, if it keeps my immune system healthy and keeps me from getting another of the nasty bugs that seem already to have gotten a foothold in our office, I will be unabashedly grateful.
Warm up with herbal soups, such as this Chicken and Parsley Noodle Soup.
Photo by Howard Lee Puckett
K.C.’s Chicken Immunity Soup
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil • 6 boneless chicken thighs (or any other cut of chicken you like. I prefer thighs for soup because they’re inexpensive and flavorful.)
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 2 cups Avena Botanicals' Immune Soup (prepared according to directions)
• 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces
• 2 red potatoes, washed, large dice
• 1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms (optional)
• 6 garlic cloves
• 1 teaspoon 5-spice powder (or more, to taste)
• Salt, to taste
1. Brown onion in olive oil; add chicken and brown, turning a couple of times; add liquid and other ingredients.
2. Simmer until the carrots are cooked to the texture you like—everything else will be done enough by then.
3. Spoon a good-sized helping into your soup mug and curl up in front of the fireplace, or its emotional equivalent. You’ll start feeling healthier the minute you smell this soup.