Whether you’ve got pumpkin spice fever or are already counting down the days to next summer, there’s no avoiding the change of seasons. But there is one thing we can all look forward to in the colder months: soup!
Not only is soup the OG comfort food, but it’s also the perfect template for a super immune-boosting meal, which is exactly what you want this time of year.
“70 percent of our immune system is in our gut,” says dietitian Sarah Koszyk, R.D.N., author of 25 Anti-Aging Smoothies for Revitalizing, Glowing Skin. “When we nourish our gut through foods that provide specific immune-supporting benefits, we can optimize our health.”
Since soup is such an easy way to pack immune-loving ingredients into your diet, it’s time to expand your repertoire beyond good ol’ chicken noodle. Here, experts share some of their favorite soup recipes for supporting your immune system and overall health.
1. Vegan Crockpot Garbanzo Bean & Vegetable Curry Stew
Packed with flavor, antioxidants, protein, and other immune-supporting ingredients, this hearty meal is one Koszyk highly recommends.
The stew contains three components that make it uniquely fit for enhancing immune health: turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
Turmeric, a longtime staple of Indian cuisine, has powerful antioxidant effects, according to Koszyk. “Ginger, meanwhile, is a relative of turmeric and has also been used in cooking and medicine since ancient times,” she explains. It’s another one with impressive antioxidant properties, thanks to a compound called gingerol. Garlic, finally, contains a compound called allicin that increases the immune response of white blood cells, she adds.
“This stew is also rich in vitamin C from the green bell peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, and spinach,” Koszyk says. Plus, the carrots and spinach in the recipe offer the antioxidant vitamin A, which supports immune function.
2. Spaghetti Squash & Kale Soup
It’s a go-to for Radomski because it offers various textures and a combination of sweet and savory flavors. And, because it contains a healthy dose of zinc (thanks to ground beef, pork, eggs, and kale), which is an essential mineral for proper immune function, it does your system a solid, too.
The recipe also calls for a handful of garlic cloves and three whole onions, both of which contain high amounts of sulfur, a compound that helps our bodies better absorb zinc, Radomski adds.
3. Coconut Curry Zoodle Ramen with Soft Boiled Eggs
In addition to turmeric, garlic, and ginger, this fun ramen recipe contains mushrooms, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties and enhance immune response, says Koszyk. Bonus points for using UV-treated mushrooms, which contain vitamin D, a vitamin that plays an important role in immune health.
Opt for omega-3 fortified eggs and you’ll pack even more immune-loving nutrition into your hearty meal, she suggests. Of course, you’ll also get vitamin C from the red bell peppers and red cabbage.
4. Mushroom Soup
Ireland-based nutritional therapist Janice Tracey loves her mushroom soup for supporting immune health because it contains shiitake mushroom, bone broth, and bok choy.
Shiitakes are high in nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, and essential amino acids, making them a true powerhouse. One 2015 study even found that people who ate shiitake every day for four weeks experienced increased immune function. Bone broth, meanwhile, supports gut integrity, which in turn protects your immunity.
And if you’ve never tried bok choy, this leafy green is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E, Tracey says. It’s also high in fiber—another plus for your gut. Not to mention, “dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which is an electrolyte that helps strengthen our immune system,” says dietitian Elise Harlow, M.S., R.D.N.
Here’s Tracey’s recipe:
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 heads baby bok choy
- ½ bag chopped kale, optional
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 6 cups shiitake mushrooms
- 2 liters bone broth
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Chop off and discard the bottom of the mushroom stems. Separate stems from tops and slice all into large pieces.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for five minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Add celery and mushrooms and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until mushrooms have wilted.
- Add in spices and broth. Bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for at least one hour.
- Add bok choy and kale during the last 10 minutes of cooking to wilt.
- Serve warm or store for up to one week in the refrigerator.
5. Red Lentil Daal with Squash & Coconut
Looking for a thick and hearty meal that also gives your immunity a boost? Harlow recommends this red lentil daal recipe from Nutrition Stripped.
“The lentils provide protein and fiber, while the squashes are good sources of beta carotene,” she explains. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays a role in immune cell function and supports healthy gastrointestinal lining.
6. Crockpot Tuscan White Bean & Lemon Soup
This broth-based soup from Half-Baked Harvest features pesto, beans, kale, and quinoa for a hearty, unique flavor.
The kale in it is a good source of vitamin C (one cup provides 89 percent of your daily vitamin C needs), which is good news for your immune system. It’s also a great vegetarian option if you’re all about the Parmesan but not so much about meat.