Heidi Swanson is a Genius: Immunity Soup


It seems ironic. Here I am, trying my hardest to eat better than I ever have before and (sob) to reduce my sugar intake, but I am constantly catching one cold after another. I must be doing something wrong – is there such a thing as too much kale? I appear to have turned a corner, though, and I am crediting my near full-recovery from what has to be the longest bout of sniffles/coughing fits to this powerful soup. I was browsing my backlogged blog reader a few days ago, and via DesignSponge, I came across this recipe. It was meant to be.

I’ve long been an admirer of 101 Cookbooks, but I don’t check it very often for some reason. With my new non-resolutions, however, that will change. There are so many soups and vegetarian dishes! Plus, the beautiful photography, the comforting narratives and the incontestably delectable-sounding recipes…Heidi Swanson’s site is a winner through and through.


Anyway, I was going to talk about this particular soup, the one she calls the “Immunity Soup”. Other than the snow pea shoots, which was a new ingredient to me, watermelon radishes and fresh ginger, I had pretty much everything else in my kitchen so I made a quick trip to the nearest fancy health food store and rounded up the missing pieces. I was out of luck with the watermelon radishes but scored the other two.


It’s a fast dish to assemble, and though you don’t want to stand close to anyone after consuming it — there are eight cloves of garlic in it — the soup makes short order of clearing your sinuses and lifting that ever-present sickness fog. It’s important to drink/eat it piping hot as she recommends. Slurping up the scalding concoction enveloped by the fragrant steam seems to add to the restorative properties of the soup. As for the taste, it has a distinct Asian flair with the peppery broth combined with the kick of ginger and garlic. The sweetness of the onions, carrots and snow pea shoots balances out the heat and I always love tofu and mushroom in my broths. It’s the kind of soup I imagine my friend’s ancient Chinese grandma would serve me with a strict admonition about not using my chopsticks properly.


I couldn’t get M or K to get on board with my immunity soup as they both claimed to be hale and indestructible, but that means more for me, and I’m betting that by tomorrow I’ll be indestructible too. Highly, highly recommended!

18 Thoughts on “Heidi Swanson is a Genius: Immunity Soup

  1. Kristi Andres on January 28, 2014 at 10:46 am said:

    I might have to try this… just can’t get to the store today. I have plain old chicken noodle in the crock pot because one kid has a sinus cold and two more have ear aches. (and my throat is a little sore)… Yikes! Hopefully all the home remedies start to kick in!

  2. I didn’t try this soup, but made already several recipes from Heidi and loved them. I can also recommend you to have a look at http://www.mynewroots.org/site/. Such delicious recipes there as well!

    Get better soon!

    • I love my new roots! Her photography is amazing – I didn’t succeed with the life changing bread, but I’ve got my eye on the cornmeal sweet potato fries…thanks, Heleen!

  3. Lucinda on January 28, 2014 at 11:54 am said:

    so glad you’re on the mend, Sanae! And encouragement on the reduced sugar “diet” – it may not seem right now to be proving effective but it truly is so much better for one’s body!

    • It’s killing me not having as much sugar, Lucinda! But I’m sticking to it since the more I read about sugar and its impact, the more scared I get.

  4. Get well soon Sanae, I’m so sick today too. I signed up for the KWC winter and I can’t today, I have been up since 3 in the morning and household chores and one kid running around the house it is just enough. That soup is perfect for me too, I’m going to go check my fridge and see if I have the ingredients.

    • It’s the season for illness, Patty! I’m pretty low energy and haven’t been very productive on the KCW front either. If nothing else, the ginger + garlic combo seems to be very effective too!

  5. Heather on January 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm said:

    There’s totally something as too much kale. If you have a sluggish thyroid, kale and other goitrogens can inhibit your thyroid’s healthy functions. This may not have anything to do with your colds and such, but I thought I’d mention it since I have a sluggish thyroid (no hypothyroid diagnosis, just low levels which is very common) and I was having green smoothies with kale and spinach with the goal of getting healthier… and I made myself much sicker. Here’s a quick little overview on goitrogens. http://www.livestrong.com/article/519961-greens-kale-thyroid-problems/

    • That’s so interesting, Heather – thank you for this! So, I have hyperthyroidism, which is the opposite and my thyroid produces too much. This could mean that kale would in fact help me. Good to know! Still, maybe eating too much of it could push me toward hypo symptoms…hmmm, food for thought! :-)

      • Heather on January 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm said:

        You’re probably fine then. I just thought I’d mention it. Hopefully it isn’t an issue for you then. :) Your blog is wonderful. I’m a new follower and looking forward to following your adventures.

  6. Yes, I love her site… I haven’t been back to check it out in awhile, but I’m with you on the eating healthier. I have almost kicked my sugar cravings after a week and a half, but preparing all my meals involves a surprising amount of labor (or I am lazy). I’m pretty sure I’ve survived the last several years on english muffins and candy. I love good food…shopping and preparing it, however… This looks delicious….love that garlic and ginger!

    • You go, Monica! I haven’t gone cold turkey on sugar, but I’ve cut WAY back. I used to be a dessert with every meal kind of girl, and now I limit myself to one very small sweet a day, no added sugar to coffees/teas, and of course, the hardest part of all — no baking. I’m noticing that I’m definitely craving it less. And yep, cooking every meal takes forever!!

  7. Sanae, let me share with you my favorite immunity booster. :) i spent several years studying herbs pretty intensely and one of my very favorites for immunity-boosting (and energy boosting) is astragalus. the stuff is amazing! the thing is though, i’ve found you really need to decoct the root rather than use the tincture. (i like to buy my herbs from mountain rose herbs). i take about 4 of the roots (they look like tongue depressors) or a small handful if there’s chopped and a pint of water and bring them to a boil. then i simmer it until it reduces by half – about 20-30 minutes. you’re supposed to drink the remaining 1 cup, throughout the day in about 1/3 c doses. in traditional chinese medicine they do a lot more than that, but that the way i learned to do it through herbalist, midwide and now Yale-trained physician Aviva Romm. (Any of her books on herbs are fantastic!). also, i’m not sure if you take a vitamin d supplement, but i’ve read this affects immunity. i live in texas and i need to take 2000 IUs every day to keep my numbers in the normal range.

  8. gah- sorry for all the typos above! i also wanted to add that when you boil the astragalus root you can add a small piece of ginger to the decoction – if you want. strain it all with a fine mesh strainer. you can sweeten with a little bit of honey and lemon, if you wish. it’s an acquired taste. :) it’s considered a ‘tonic’ so it’s something you use regularly – it’s not just a once-and-you’re-done kind of thing. if i’m feeling low, i shoot for using it 3 times/week, and even every day.

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