A nutrient packed soup to keep colds at bay

I stepped outside this morning and could not believe how cold it's got! And with it, everyone has become just a little bit sniffly. It seems sadly winter-bug season is all but upon us.

white camelias - referred to by some as winter's beauty queen
Advice linking any specific foods to better immunity is to say the least a little bit sketchy. However, what we do know for sure is the way the nutrients inside those foods work to benefit the immune system. The majority of them work in a similar way - helping white blood cells in their fight for the greater good. And to be honest you've only got a problem if you become deficient in any of them. And that can be avoided by just eating a nicely balanced diet.

This means sadly I can't share the secret to the greatest flu-defending, cold-busting dish. But what I can do instead is to give a run down of the key nutrients involved, where to find them, and then show you how to throw them altogether in a simple easy-to-make recipe that could be made sporadically throughout winter, just to keep them all topped up.

protein - meat, fish, eggs, dairy, pulses, soya beans, peas, nuts, seeds

zinc - meat, fish (oysters are ridiculously high in zinc), wheat germ, wheat bran, black-eyed beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds

vitamin a - sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, apricots, kale, spinach, eggs, milk

vitamin c citrus fruits, berries, red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes

vitamin e wheat germ, eggs, spinach, broccoli, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds

vitamin b6 - chicken, salmon, bulgar wheat, chick peas, bananas

folate - liver, egg, wheat germ, black-eyed beans, asparagus, avocados, spinach, peanuts

allicin - garlic

Serves 1 
  • 500mls vegetable stock
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 egg, soft boiled
  • 1 salmon fillet, quartered
  • 80g soya beans
  • 80g spinach
  • Half a red pepper, sliced
  • 40g wheat germ
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 peanuts, ground
long-stemmed wood mushrooms
Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and stir in the garlic and chilli flakes. I like to make my own vegetable stock from dried mushrooms - you just break them up, add water and let them soak for about half an hour. I used long-stemmed wood mushrooms this time, so I could leave them in as part of the soup. Whilst the stock is brewing, you can soft boil the egg before setting it aside to cool.

Once it's boiling, turn the stock down to a simmer and add the salmon pieces to cook for 3 minutes. Gently mix in the soya beans, spinach, red pepper and wheat germ (if you have it). Once everything has cooked, serve with the egg resting on top, a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprinkling of ground peanuts.

*** wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat seed, it's usually stripped (along with the bran) during refining processes to leave just the endosperm. Wholegrains must have both the germ and the bran in order to call themselves wholegrains.

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