Feel like you’re getting a cold, flu, or some sort of virus? You may be tempted to head to bed, crawl under the covers, and sleep for days. But before you do, it’s important to prepare — or have someone prepare for you — a nutrient-packed meal or beverage that will alleviate your symptoms while simultaneously boosting your immune system. Use these six recipes to prepare soothing soups, smoothies, rice porridge, and tea — your immune system will thank you!
1. Ginger Chicken Jook (Rice Porridge)
Not only will Chow’s Ginger Chicken Jook warm you up and soothe your sore throat, but it will also help your immune system fight your cold and flu symptoms. Livestrong explains that ginger can help restore balance to your immune system, in addition to enhancing its protective functions.
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ pounds bone-in chicken legs or thighs, skin removed and trimmed of excess fat
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, skin on and sliced into 4 pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Pinch freshly ground white pepper, plus more as needed
- Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Directions: Place all ingredients except the cilantro and scallions in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy, about 1 hour.
Turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the cartilage and bones. Return the chicken shreds to the jook. Stir to combine, taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro and scallions.
2. Vegetable Soup for the Sick
When you’re feeling under the weather, cozy up to The Inventive Vegetarian’s soup, which consists of beans, kale, zucchini, celery, onions, and aromatic spices. The recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 carrots
- 4 stalks of celery
- 2 parsnips
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 8 cups water
- 1 red pepper
- 1 zucchini
- 1 pound of kale
- 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Chop up everything. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large pot and sauté the onion until it starts to sweat, about 3 minutes. Then add in the garlic, celery, carrots, and parsnips and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add in the bay leaves, oregano, parsley, vegetable broth, and water,
Bring the whole mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. If you want a thicker soup, add the beans in now as well so that they can melt down a bit. After half an hour, add in the kale, zucchini, pepper, and beans. Simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.
3. Ginger Tea
When you’re ill, nothing is more comforting than sipping a warm mug of tea. Gourmet’s recipe via Epicurious uses fresh ginger, loose black tea leaves, and sweetened condensed milk to create a creamy drink that will help alleviate your ailment.
- 3¼ cups hot water
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh ginger (left unpeeled)
- 2 tablespoons loose black tea leaves
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
Directions: Bring water and ginger to a boil in a 1- to 1½-quart saucepan, then remove from heat. Stir in tea and cover. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in milks, then pour through a sieve into a large blender, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Blend until foamy, then pour into mugs and sweeten with more condensed milk if desired.
4. Lime and Orange Jello Jigglers
Eating Well’s Lime and Orange Jello Jigglers will feel great on a scratchy throat and can help your immune system get back on its feet. The Dairy Council of California notes that citrus fruits, such as orange, limes, and grapefruits, are filled with disease-fighting flavonoids. In addition, they’re rich in vitamin C, which protects your body and boosts your immune system.
- 3 cups limeade, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon spirulina, dissolved
- 1 cup cold water
- 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups diced mixed citrus, such as orange, lime and grapefruit
Directions: Bring 2 cups limeade to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Meanwhile, pour water into a large heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water; let stand for 3 minutes. Add the dissolved spirulina to the remaining 1 cup limeade and stir to completely dissolve the gelatin, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir for 1 minute to dissolve.
Refrigerate until the mixture is the consistency of thin pudding and is just starting to set around the edges, 1 to 1¾ hours. The time will vary depending on the size of your bowl and how cold your refrigerator is. After 1 hour, start checking every 5 to 10 minutes because it thickens quickly after that. Gently but thoroughly whisk the mixture until it’s uniform. Stir in diced citrus.
Pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, without touching the jello. Refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours. To test if it’s ready, touch it with your finger. If your finger does not stick, it’s done. Run a small, sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Cut into 16 squares then gently pry the squares out with a butter knife.
5. “Sick” Smoothie
Spark Recipes delivers a nutrient-packed smoothie that will slide down your throat and help soothe your stomach. The recipe calls for pineapple juice, soy milk, wheat germ, strawberries, peach slices, flax oil, and agave nectar, but feel free to swap any of the ingredients with whatever you have on hand.
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup vanilla soy milk or regular milk
- 1 tablespoon wheat germ
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
- ¼ cup peach slices
- 2 teaspoons flax oil
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
Directions: Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
6. Tea-Infused Rice Noodle Soup
Broth, herbal tea, warm seasonings, vegetables, fruits, and rice noodles work together to create the perfect sick-day soup. The Daily Meal notes that tea contains antioxidants that help fight off infection, and it, along with other warm drinks, can help break up any mucus you may have as a result of your cold. Jeff Witte and Jeremy Anderson’s recipe via The Washington Post yields 4 servings.
- 12 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
- 1 whole star anise
- 4 tablespoons dried herbal lavender-lemon tea
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 7 ounces dried rice noodles (¼-inch wide)
- Sesame oil
- 1 medium shallot, cut into ¼-inch slices
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into quarters
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 4 large rainbow Swiss chard leaves, stemmed and chopped into 1-to-2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
- ½ lemon, cut into 4 wedges and seeded
- Finely crushed dried Thai chili peppers, stemmed and seeded, or crushed red pepper flakes
Directions: Heat the broth and star anise in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook for about 1 hour, uncovered, until the broth has reduced by half. Remove from the heat; add the dried tea. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding the solids. Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Wipe out the pot. Return the broth to the pot; keep it warm over low heat.
Add the rice noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until they are cooked through. Meanwhile, heat a few teaspoons of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms, garlic, and chard. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring, then add ¼ cup of the warm broth. Cook until it has almost evaporated. The mushrooms will have turned pinkish.
Remove from the heat; season lightly with salt and pepper, then stir in the cilantro. Use tongs to transfer the rice noodles from the broth to individual deep bowls, twisting them to form nests. Top each portion with equal amounts of the mushroom-chard mixture. Ladle about a cup of broth into each bowl. Garnish with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of the dried peppers, if using. Serve warm.