Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Indeed, consuming the right types of food can have a significant impact on your well-being and may even help you restore your health with a plethora of nutrients and synergistic components.
However, when talking about using food for healing, remember that we’re talking about real food — whole, non-GMO varieties that are ideally organic and locally grown — and not the processed junk you see on supermarket shelves. Hence, it’s always a smart idea to stock your pantry with fresh whole foods all year-round.
If you need a boost to help your immune system stay robust during these cold winter months, here’s a delicious soup recipe from PaleoHacks that you can whip up at home. The list of ingredients may be intimidating, but it’s definitely worth the trouble and effort, as the variety of vegetables, plus herbs and spices, will help ramp up your immunity and keep you protected from illnesses.
Immune-Boosting Vegetable Soup
Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 cups kale (destemmed and torn into pieces)
- 1 cup celery (diced)
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup organic vegetable broth
- 6 cups filtered water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Serving Size: 4 servings
1Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, celery, carrots, minced garlic and ginger to the pot. Sauté for five minutes (until the veggies are a bit tender).
2Next, add broccoli, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Sauté for another three to five minutes.
3Add water and vegetable broth, then cover and bring the pot to a boil.
4Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Then add lemon juice, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, cabbage and kale. Stir to combine. Let the ingredients simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (or until vegetables are soft).
Fresh Organic Vegetables Are Always a Top Choice for Optimal Health
Aside from providing different textures and flavors to this dish, all of the vegetables used in this dish have their own set of nutritional components that may help improve your immune function. For example:
- Purple cabbage, also known as red cabbage, is loaded with L-glutamine, an amino acid that may help heal the soft tissue that lines your intestines. Like its green counterpart, it also boasts of nutrients like thiamin, calcium, magnesium, folate, manganese, riboflavin, iron and vitamin K, among others — all of which may have protective immune benefits.
The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit which focuses on helping people eat and cook more healthfully, further highlights the immune-boosting potential of red cabbage:1
"Like all unique and nourishing foods, there are differences in the nutrients they offer. For example, some red cabbages contain almost twice the vitamin C as some green cabbages. Red cabbages are always richer in anthocyanins (flavonoid phytonutrients) that not only act as antioxidants but also function as supporters of the immune system. Green cabbages, on the other hand, have substantially more folate."
- Kale, a well-recognized "superfood" that recently has been skyrocketing in popularity, is loaded with antioxidants and healthy fiber. It’s also one of the top sources of vitamins A and K, the latter of which promotes skin and eye health, and may help keep your immune system strong.
- Broccoli offers many health-promoting compounds. When you eat it, you're getting dozens, even hundreds, of super-nutrients that support bodywide health. One standout nutrient is sulforaphane, which is a naturally occurring organic sulfur compound that’s been found to have potent anti-cancer activity. Sulforaphane acts as an immune stimulant and an anti-inflammatory as well.2
Remember that when it comes to consuming produce, fresh and certified organic varieties, bought from farmers markets or local coops, should always be your top choice. This is because eating organic not only reduces your exposure to pesticides and insecticides, but is also linked to significant health benefits.
For example, an analysis conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service concluded that eating organic foods also improves the nutritional value of the food, lessens disease risk and enhances early childhood development.3 A separate study found that eating foods that are organically grown may lead to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity.4
Herbs and Spices Complement the Vegetables in Terms of Taste and Nutrition
The problem with making soup is that if you don’t add the right ingredients, it may come out bland and unappetizing. Here’s where herbs and spices come in — they not only add a flavorful punch to any dish, but also help ramp up its nutritional profile. In this recipe’s case, its immune-boosting potential is “spiced up” by several different ingredients. Take a look at what these handy “flavor enhancers” can offer you:
- Turmeric, a potent yellow spice popular in Indian cuisine, has over 150 therapeutic properties, including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits. This is due to its active ingredient, curcumin.
- Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic properties, all of which can help improve immune function. In fact, there are studies that show how garlic can impact over 160 different diseases.5
- Ginger offers broad-spectrum antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and antiparasitic properties — just a few of its 40 pharmacological actions. It may help protect against respiratory viruses6 and help ease drug-resistant fungal and bacterial infections.7
- Cinnamon’s health benefits are said to resonate throughout your body. An in-depth review published in 2014, found that, aside from exhibiting antimicrobial activity against infections like E.coli, it may have an effect against diabetes, inflammation, dementia and neurological disorders, to name a few.8,9
- Cayenne pepper, aside from its impressive amounts of capsaicin, contains high levels of immunity-boosting vitamin C.
For a More Healthful Soup, You Can Use Bone Broth
This recipe makes use of vegetable broth, but if you’d like to further improve your soup’s nutritional profile, you can also use homemade broth made from bones of organically raised, pastured or grass fed animals. Bone broth contains chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine and other compounds, which can help reduce joint pain and inflammation, among other benefits. For more about the healing effects of bone broth, read my article “Do You Know How to Make Bone Broth and Why You Should?”
About the Blog
Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.
Sources and References