The cold season is all around us – literally. Fellow passengers coughing on the tube, sneezing colleagues at work and toddlers with stuffy noses are anything but an uncommon sight this time of the year. All the more important to keep yourself healthy and stock up on natural remedies and vitamins. To help you along the way, we’ve compiled a few immune-boosting recipes to combat the baleful germs.
Jo Pratt’s super green soup with pumpkin seed croutons
This is packed with green vegetable goodness, vitamins and minerals galore. The soup alone is great, but the croutons are a real tasty treat to scatter over the top. Salty, crunchy and very moreish.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 medium-large courgette/zucchini, sliced
1l/35fl oz/4 cups vegetable stock
300g/101⁄2oz spring/ collard greens, roughly chopped
100g/31⁄2oz/2⁄3 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 large handful of mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the croutons:
100g/31⁄2oz feta cheese
50g/13⁄4oz/2⁄3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
1⁄4 tsp dried chilli/hot pepper flakes
1 tsp sumac
Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/gas 7. Break the feta into small chunks and gently mix together with the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, dried chilli/hot pepper flakes and sumac. Spread in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 10–12 minutes, shaking the baking sheet once during cooking, to ensure even cooking. When cooked, the feta should be starting to turn golden in places and the pumpkin seeds will be crunchy and puffed up. Remove from the oven and leave to one side.
Meanwhile, make the soup. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the fennel and garlic and gently sauté for about 5 minutes until the fennel is softened but not coloured. Stir in the leek and courgette/zucchini and continue to sauté for 5 minutes, then add the stock. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then add the spring/ collard greens and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the peas, and as soon as the soup returns to a simmer, cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the mint.
Using a hand-held stick/immersion blender or electric blender, blitz the soup until it is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the pumpkin seed and feta croutons scattered on top.
Lorraine Pascale’s Immune boosting super soup
Not a drink, but a soup that will help to boost your immune system. It has been said that there is no food or supplement that can rival mushrooms for their direct immune boosting benefits. This soup has such a warm, soul-heartening feel to it too: good for the cold winter days, especially when everyone at school/work is sneezing all around you! The turmeric (along with black pepper, which helps its absorption) is another immune booster and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Add some lemongrass for extra flavour if you like.
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely sliced
400g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and finely diced
3–4 garlic cloves, crushed
1cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1.1 litres vegetable stock
100g shitake mushrooms, sliced
100g oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced into rings (optional)
1 ½ tsp turmeric powder
Juice of ½ lime
Leaves from ½ bunch of fresh coriander
Sea salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan over a low–medium heat and sauté the onion and Jerusalem artichokes for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and turn golden.
Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another minute. Add the stock, mushrooms, chilli, if using, and turmeric, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 12–15 minutes until the Jerusalem artichokes are completely tender.
Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Either leave the soup as it is or blend until smooth in a liquidiser or with a stick blender. Finish by stirring the coriander leaves through and serve.
The perfect pick-me-up smoothie from CRU Kafe
CRU Kafe’s John Quilter has developed the perfect healthy smoothie recipe for those in need of a little morning boost. The banana adds texture, flavour and a shed-load of potassium to the drink, while the coconut water is chock full of nutrients and is one of the best forms of hydration out there.
The coffee comes next, bringing body, depth and all kinds of goodness to the table. The caffeine works its obvious wonders on the sleep-deprived, while its beneficial effects on physical performance and the burning of fat are invaluable to those of us looking to trim our figure. Coffee also happens to be one of the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet.
While these three ingredients make the body of the smoothie, the almonds add the finishing flavour and the chia seeds (although rather delicate in taste) add a whole plethora of very scientific sounding nutrients to the mix, as well as being high in fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and protein. Tie these in with the almonds – which give the smoothie a sweet, nutty finish while keeping you nervous system healthy and helping your teeth and bones stay strong – and you’ve got one hell of an addition to your morning routine.
- 1 frozen banana
- 8g chia seeds
- 125ml coconut water
- 1 tsp ground almonds
- 1 shot of espresso (25ml)
- Pop everything into a blender and blitz.