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Cold-fighting soups?

Everyone at work is sick as a dog. What can I make for dinner tonight to keep me safe? (I'm already washing hands, taking airborne, etc...)


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  1. I think any broth heavy soup would be helpful. Something with garlic maybe? Keeping hydrated is very important.

    1. Garlic's a great idea. Does anybody have a good garlic soup recipe?

      1 Reply
      1. re: macrogal

        Here's one:

        3 unpeeled heads of garlic (yep, whole heads)
        4 large unpeeled onions, halved
        2 T olive oil
        2 t thyme
        1 3/4 C. chicken stock
        salt 'n' pepper
        (optional: 1/2 C. cream or creme fraiche or half-n-half)

        Behead top third of garlics and arrange in roasting pan with onions. Drizzle all with oil, sprinkle with thyme and s & p. Bake covered for about an hour until tender, then another 1/2 hour until roasty. Let cool about 15 min. Skin everything and process until smooth (along with the with cream, if you're using). I add pan drippings, too. Whisk in stock. Heat through on low.

      2. I think the key is lots of vegetables, garlic and ginger and hot broth - a hot pot is good for this - water, chinese sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, bok choy, dried mushrooms of your choice, green onions, lots of fresh lime juice, pureed ginger and garlic to your taste. When it's done add fresh cilantro, bean sprouts and an extra squeeze of fresh lime juice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pescatarian

          That sounds fantastic, could you elaborate a little on how you would go about putting that together. Does it all go in the pot at the same time?

          1. re: China

            Sure, usually I start off with a little bit of chopped green onion and I sweat it a bit (you can do this in water, it doesn't require oil). Then I add about 6 cups of water. To the water I add about 6 tablespoons of the sweet chili sauce and 6 tablespoons soy sauce (yes it's a lot, but it's a lot of water) and the I add the 1 big roughly chopped bok choy and as many dried mushrooms that look like enough to me - I've mixed the mushrooms with different kinds and they are all good (portobello, oyster, straw, etc.). I add about a tablespoon of pureed ginger and garlic - however with garlic I add it closer to the end because I like the taste of fresh garlic in soup. I add about half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice. I boil it all for about an hour and then taste it to see if it needs anymore of anything - and I forgot to mention above that I sometimes add cubed extra firm tofu - you can use shredded chicken or beef too - and I add the cilantro, bean sprouts and extra squirt of lime juice in the individual bowls.
            You could also add rice noodles - however if you do add them in the end in the individual bowls - they will swell too much in the big batch of soup and eat up the broth.

        2. Last year, during the bird flu hysteria, there were numerous reports about kimchi anti-viral properties. I've been eating a lot of that stuff lately and hopefully, am guarded sufficiently against any cooties this winter.

          I know the key ingredients like garlic, cabbage, ginger and chili have been named above, but the key anti-viral agent seems to be the fermentation culture.

          8 Replies
          1. re: welle

            One of the theories I read about the kimchi was that the seminal ingredient was the *raw* garlic in the kimchi. Apparently the main anti-viral agent in garlic is either diminished or eliminated when cooked. So the garlic soup thing might not be that effective. I'm no doctor [I just play one on TV, right?], but perhaps it is a confluence of the cabbage, ginger, chili and the fermentation culture that made kimchi this reported cootie-chaser. The rumors began when people noted that throughout all of asia the south koreans [who consume the most raw garlic per capita mostly because they eat kimchi] were least affected [or almost unaffected, really] by the bird-flu. There was one scientific study coming out of Korea that made the conclusion -- but it didn't have the peer-reviewed credentials for anyone else in the scientific community to fully concur. Most looked at it as sort of this anecdotal folk-remdedy. But whatever. Any port in a storm, I say. And really, I don't care if it is psycho-somatic or not as long as it makes me feel better...

            If kimchi isn't your thing but you still beleive in the magic of garlic, you could sprinkle some finely minced raw garlic into your soup of choice or opt for the odor-controlled garlic suplement pills.

            1. re: SouthOCHound

              I read/heard somewhere that if you chop/crush the garlic 10 min before cooking, somehow it retains all nutrients. The scientific reports I'd read sounded like Korean scientists fed chickens with live culture extracts from kimchi (otherwise, the plain kimchi would be a tough sell for chickens I think), I could be wrong. Like you said, who cares as long as it tastes good. This winter, I'm peer-reviewing So. Koreans' argument on myself ;)

              1. re: welle

                yeah, i'm in the midst of trying to fend off some kind of bug myself at the moment and hence the research on garlic. Because I was focusing on garlic I prob missed the studies where they actually introduced cultural extracts into chickens. Very interesting. So, following my garlic theory -- I dropped some finely minced garlic into my soup [noodles, dumplings and tons of veggies in chix broth] per my own advice. Well, I can rest assured that no evil spirits want anything to do with me right now [not to mention my wife], and the garlic seems to have kickedstarted my system with renewed vigor. Sinuses have cleared and I am glistening in a good healthy sweat. Who knows if the net effect of it will mean anything, but at a minimum I got the placebo effect I was seeking. I'm thinking kimchi for dinner ought to make for a good case study and will probably make my sleeping on the couch an inevitability.

              2. re: SouthOCHound

                I put raw chopped garlic into my chicken soup in the winter. Right before serving. I also eat a raw clove whole every few days during the cold season. Haven't had a cold for years. May be coincidence, but I'm willing to go along with the natural antibiotic/anti-viral qualities of garlic.

                1. re: cayjohan

                  How do you get the raw clove down? I've tried that before and it upsets my stomach.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Mash it with a little salt, then smear it on a nice hunk of baguette. If you throw on a little cheese (anything from home-made soft to a good Emmental), maybe it will quell stomach anxiety from the garlic.

                    Maybe I shouldn't have said "whole," even though I meant the whole(as in not just a bit of) clove. Still, my tummy takes it fine even if I just eat the clove with no adornment, for now.

                    The soup application is really better if you have an adverse reaction to the raw clove straight. Portuguese bread soup with garlic. Great medicine without the co-pay (opinion only!).

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Ah, I should have known you'd put it on a baguette with something good--afterall, you're the creative toast lover!

                      Maybe I should go with the soup, as you say. But, if I want to fast track it (and I kinda do with the holidays looming) maybe I'll try the garlic+salt+baguette+cheese combo. Thanks!


                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I've been told that the sprout in garlic is indigestible, particularly when well developed. Perhaps it wouldn't bother your stomach as much if you made sure to take it out?

              3. Pescatarian's conconction sounds great -- and is almost exactly what I make for myself when I feel a cold is coming on.

                Another thing I like to "take" is instant miso soup (I've always contended that miso has superpowers!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miso_soup

                1. homemade chicken noodle, the staple for curing colds for hundreds of years. Cant argue with that track record.

                  1. I make this soup when I feel something coming on. I buy a whole chicken, a knuckle of ginger, several cloves of garlic, plus celery stalks, carrots, quartered onions, half a bunch of dill, salt pepper and lots of cayenne pepper...and a echinacea tea bags near the end of cooking. I put all the other ingredients in a big soup pot and just cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for as long as it takes to cook the chicken. I primarily drink the broth, but you can shred the chicken and put back in, and you can probably puree the veggies (maybe not the ginger) and add those too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ballulah

                      Wow. That sounds yum. I usually throw a whole chicken in a pot with garlic cloves, salt and pepper and let it simmer for an hour plus. then take out the chicken, shred the white meat (I usually save the carcass and other meat for a next time soup/broth), throw it back in. Add a cup or two of rice and make a nice chicken jook/porridge. Garnish with green onions and eat with kimchee. Ta daa

                    2. Best soup ever: it's a carrot soup made with plenty of lemon, ginger and garlic. Kills the heck out of colds!

                      I don't have the recipe on me, but I imagine if you cook, you can figure something out. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MuppetGrrl

                        sounds interesting. what's the carrots/water ratio? thanks.

                      2. I swear by tea soup. This and hot toddies get me through the worst.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mrsleny

                          So, I bookmarked this thread so I could refer to it when the inevitable winter cold hit. I've just woken up with a sore throat. Bah, right before the big holidays.

                          This tea soup sounds interesting--does the caffeine in the green tea become problematic in terms of keeping you awake? Can you use decaf, or does that impair the taste or effectiveness in some way?


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            The caffeine hasn't bothered me mainly because I usually have hot toddies before bed when I'm sick! I've never tried decaf teas so I don't know if there's a taste difference. I don't think it would be less effective.

                        2. I buy chicken soup herbs in Chinatown - don't laugh, there is actually such a thing. It's a ready made mixture you can buy at any Chinese herbalist. Get a chicken, add water and the herbs, berries, barks etc that make up the mixture and simmer for six hours. Strain, add fresh veggies and some of the chicken meat (if you like) and sip. It's beautiful, a rich chicken soup with an added warmth form the herbs.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: andreas

                            Nothing to laugh about - I have bought in the past herbs for Malaysian Bah Kuh Teh (great under weather remeday, btw). The result was almost the same as in my favorite malaysian Restaurant (the only difference was that I didn't have fried tofu).

                          2. Order hot and sour soup from chinese restaurant

                            Also carrot ginger soup always seems to make me feel better.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jenniebnyc

                              Hot & Sour soup works for me when I have a cold.

                              1. re: Infomaniac

                                hot and sour soup is a great answer, plus its an excuse (not that I need one.. to pick up some chinese carry-out..)

                            2. I make a fast & not-so-authentic Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut-chicken soup). Sautee some onion, mushroom, pepper, add chopped garlic & ginger, add some good red curry paste (enough to make it nice & spicey) and light coconut milk (about 1/2 can), add a lot of chicken broth and some diced cooked chicken or tofu, fish sauce & lots of lemon juice. when it starts to simmer, add a bunch of fresh washed greens (baby spinach is good) & cilantro if you've got it. Season to taste (more fish sauce, some pepper flakes, more lemon juice.) You can make some rice noodles or reg. long pasta separately to add at the last minute if you really want a hearty meal.

                              This recipe is faster than it reads, very adaptable, kicks my colds, thai-style, right in the tukhis.

                              1. Avgolemono - Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. (I'm fudging the proportions here, from memory): simmer 6-8 cups chicken broth. Add orzo (or rice) and cook until tender. In the meantime, separate two eggs and beat the whites to soft peaks. Beat in the yolks and the juice of 1 lemon. Slowly add a cup or two of hot broth to the egg mixture while beating, to temper the eggs. Take the soup off the heat and stir in the egg mixture. The aim is not to curdle the eggs - keep it moving and don't put it back on the burner! Taste and add black pepper and more lemon juice if you like. You can also add shredded cooked chicken.

                                This soup doesn't have as many sophisticated germ-fighting ingredients as the above, but it does have some vitamin C, and it's my favorite comfort food. It's even better for people who are already sick - the eggs add some protein to the broth, when you can't face solid food.

                                1. We use fresh pieces of ginger in soup & tea..just remember ginger is zinger spicy..and a little goes a long way...especially when heated.

                                  If you feel symptoms zinc tabs help too!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I'm with you on the ginger. Often in the winter months, I throw some peeled chunks in my tea-pot and brew it as tea, adding more hot water throughout the day. (one can only drink so much tea and coffee in a day but, as far as I know, there are no adverse effects to having lots of ginger).

                                  2. Here's a back of the box keeper, the recipe for minestrone soup on the back of the Swanson's organic veg broth (comes in a box type container) is excellent anytime, especially when you're sick. Something about the veggies, olive oil, and garlic. Very good for you, so easy to make. I make it all the time.

                                    1. I second HillJ re zinc tablets: good studies show they cut duration of colds by ~50%.

                                      And I also vote for Trader Joe's ginger lime-ade if you can get it. It is crazily CHOCK FULL of ginger and I swear will sear your throat and kill a cold dead before it even starts.

                                      Good luck :-)

                                      1. I'm fighting a sinus infection and was really feeling miserable yesterday so I made some watercress soup (chicken broth, garlic, watercress, cook until watercress is very soft) and also an herbal broth of reishi mushroom and red dates (overnight in crockpot). Both Mom's good chinese medicine to cleanse the system.

                                        1. My thanks to all for posting alternative broths and remedies. It's always good to have an arsenal against the cold season!

                                          1. thanks for these posts--when do you strain or glob off the fat during the cooking??