Soups for the Soul During Sick Season

The swift change of weather from a heatwave back to sudden cold winds is dizzying. Not only does this mean that fall is finally here, it also means flu season is back. Case in point–I was walking around campus and heard the (miserable) cacophony of sneezing and coughing around campus.

Given that so many people are feeling under the weather these days, I thought it was time to share some comforting recipes I always crave when I’m sick. Back at home, my mother always emphasized the importance of having soup at the table. She would make a warm bowl of soup whenever I fell sick. Coming back home to piping hot soup is definitely one of those things you take for granted and miss now that you’re in a college dorm and left to fend for yourself.

And why is a soup recipe so great to have on hand? Not only is it a comfort food that lifts your spirits and warms your soul, but it can also boast tremendous nutritional benefits and be very easy to cook. No need for fancy appliances—simply throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and bringing it up to a slow boil will taste heavenly, especially on a cold day.

1. Sweet Corn and Carrot Soup

I love adding sweet corn and carrot to my soups—they instantly make any soup taste better. They bring a wonderful combination of sweet and savory flavors, all without overpowering your taste buds. As for nutritional value, this soup strengthens your immune system and can even help moisturize your skin. Overall, this recipe is what comes to mind when I think of a basic but amazing soup recipe to make.

Serves two

1. 2 whole corn on the cob

2. 8 cups of water, preferably filtered

3. 2 medium-sized carrots

4. ½ teaspoon of salt (or salt to taste)

5. 2 large pieces of pork bone (feel free to replace this with tofu or other plant-based alternatives for a vegan/vegetarian recipe)

Steps: Cut up the ingredients, add them all to a pot, and bring everything to a slow boil on the stove. Remember to close the lid and put the heat on low to medium. The whole process should take two hours. When done, the soup should be colored a gorgeous golden hue, smell divine, and taste just as great.

Tempted to add in some low-sodium chicken stock cubes? I promise you won’t need them—the pork bone packs a punch of flavor. Plus, you won’t want to feel icky from MSG when you’re sick.

#SpoonTip: Some rice goes great with the soup. Remember that you can eat the ingredients that went into the soup, too! They might not taste as flavorful, as the soup has already soaked up their flavors, but the dietary fiber and vitamins in the corn and carrots will do wonders for your body.

2. Chicken Pozole

We’re taking a trip from China to Mexico. Chicken pozole is another soup I love to have when I’m sick. There’s just something about warmed, canned tomatoes that I crave when I’m down with a cold. You can serve this dish with tortilla chips, but my choice of side is toasted flatbread and some guacamole.

Serves two

1. ½ can diced tomatoes

2. 1 medium bell pepper

3. 1 medium onion

4. 1 tsp cumin

5. 1 chicken thigh

6. ½ cup cilantro

7. 1 tbsp squeezed lime juice

8. 8 cups of water, preferably filtered

Add the ingredients into a pot, bring them to a boil on the lowest fire setting for a couple hours, and enjoy.

#SpoonTip: Remove the chicken thigh and cut it up to ensure it is cooked through before bringing the soup to a boil. If you want to play it safe, you can throw the chicken on the pan with some olive oil and cook it through before placing it into the soup.

3. Roasted Pumpkin Soup

It’s pumpkin season! I’ve started seeing farmers’ markets and Trader Joe’s bring out pumpkin varieties, a true testament to the arrival of fall. Thus, a dish incorporating this wonderful squash is a must for the fall season. I love pumpkins because of their versatility as an ingredient that works in both sweet and savory food. Also, it gives you a warm and hearty feeling, especially in a soup.

Serves two

1. ¼ medium pumpkin

2. Approx. 2 tbsp olive oil

3. ½ cup full fat coconut milk

4. ½ tsp ground cinnamon

5. 4 cups of water, preferably filtered

Place the olive oil and pumpkin into a pan and fry until cooked through. Alternatively, you can preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, line a pan with baking paper, and roast the pumpkin. Once the pumpkin is cooked, add the pumpkin and the rest of the ingredients into a pot and bring it to a slow boil again. It should be done in two hours.

All the recipes above may seem like they involve quite a bit of time, but all you really need to do is add a few ingredients to a pot, bring it to a boil, and then you can walk away and do whatever else you need to do, like watch a Halloween movie or sip on pumpkin spiced latte. Safety first though—be careful not to completely forget about your soup! Keep a timer and a watchful eye on them, lest they overflow (using the lowest heat setting helps avoid this.) But no need to be paranoid! Do not open the lid too often as the heat will escape. Trust the process, and use that precious time to concentrate on recuperating.

#SpoonTip: Of course, if you’re looking to save even more time or feel too unwell to even cook, Trader Joe’s has great pre-cooked options too.

Lastly, get well soon from the Spoon family!

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