Soup is the ultimate food for the soul.
When it comes to the cold and flu, staying hydrated and nourished is vital for getting over your infection as soon as possible.
As we all know, the all-time best soup for a cold is a good-old classic chicken soup.
Getting Stuck in the Cold Cycle
As it begins to get cold outside, it’s important to eat “warming” foods, warm drinks, soups, and spices. Ginger, cumin, and cinnamon, according to Chinese medicine, are key spices to eats regularly from late fall to early spring.
According to the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, a cold environment makes the upper respiratory tract more hospitable to the common cold. This is partly due to the fact that our bodies may produce fewer antiviral immune signals when exposed to cold weather (1).
When you’re down from a cold, your body has to fight hard to regain proper health. This cold leaves your body exhausted and depleted, which is why you have to focus on eating well and resting. If you don’t take the time to replenish yourself, you’ll be more vulnerable to another infection.
That’s why people who don’t eat well, sleep enough or exercise regularly are stuck in a downward spiral of cold after cold.
The All-time Best Soup for a Cold
The following recipe is the best soup for a cold, so make sure to stock your fridge with all the necessary ingredients. You’ll feel better after a few bowls of this delightfully warming soup!
- 6 cups chicken bone broth
- 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
- 1-2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, sliced into small pieces
- 4-5 pieces of dried Astragalus
- In a pot, add the garlic, ginger, and onions and olive oil. For extra flavor, add a few chopped mushrooms.
- Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are soft.
- Add the stock and Astragalus bring up the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes, and discard the Astragalus.
- Enjoy hot and store the remainder, refrigerated, for a few days.
You can keep the broth in the fridge for a few days. Sip on this delicious broth throughout the day as you would a cup of tea. For a filling meal, add some barley, lentils, and root vegetables into the mix.
While you may be tempted to use bouillon cubes, it’s much better to make your own broth. You’ll find a recipe chicken bone broth and a veggie broth below.
Homemade Chicken Broth
This recipe is incredibly nutritious and delicious. It makes about 4 quarts, but you can freeze it for up to 1 year. While the recipe above is the ultimate best soup for a cold, feel free to use this broth to make a hearty peasant soup, bean & sausage soup, or westernized miso soup.
- 2 whole chickens
- 1 pound chicken feet
- 1/4 cup apple cider, white, or white wine vinegar
- 6 to 8 quarts cold water, or as needed to cover ingredients
- 4 cups ice cubes
- 3 carrots, peeled and halved
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 onions, peeled and halved
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the wings, thighs, drumsticks, and breasts from the chickens. Set aside.
- Place the carcasses and innards on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Place the bones, feet, and vinegar in a stockpot or slow cooker, at least 10 quarts in size, and cover with the cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to low, cook for 30 minutes, skimming and discarding the scum that rises to the top.
- Add the ice and skim off any fat that congeals on the top along with any other scum or impurities.
- Simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 hours, adding more water as necessary just to keep the bones covered.
- Add the carrots, onions, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves and simmer for another 5 hours.
- Continue to skim off any impurities; add water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
- Gently strain or ladle the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a container.
- Fill your sink with ice water. Place the container of broth in the ice bath to cool for about 1 hour.
- Use the broth right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Remove any fat that has solidified on the top before using.
Vegetable Broth Recipe
This recipe is vegan, paleo and gluten-free! That’s right, there’s a cruelty-free way to enjoy this best soup for a cold!
- 1 small to medium leek, sliced lengthwise and well cleaned (use white and light green parts)
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 large or 3 medium whole cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 very small or ½ large regular sweet potato
- 1 cup winter squash (like butternut)
- ½ a small bunch kale or chard (or a mixture of leafy greens), leaves only
- ½ cup fresh or ¼ cup dried shitake mushrooms (or a blend of mushrooms)
- 1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 large piece of kombu
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 or 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, skin removed and grated
- 1 or 2-inch piece of fresh turmeric, skin removed grated
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 quarts/12 cups filtered water
- 1 Tablespoon of butter or extra virgin olive oil for serving
- Coarsely chop the vegetables into even sized pieces.
- Place all the ingredients except for the butter or olive oil into your slow cooker and add the water to cover. Set to 5 to 6 hours on high or 10 to 12 hours on low. (You can simmer it for longer for a more flavorful and reduced broth)
- Alternatively, in a large stock pot, cover the vegetables, herbs, and spices with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and barely simmer on low for about 90 minutes.
- Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer (set vegetables aside). Salt to taste.
- Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Here are the ingredients that will make your soup pop!
Broth is at the heart of this best soup for a cold: the more nutritious the broth, the better!
Chicken soup contains nutrients that boost immune response and feed all your body’s systems. It’s all full of protein and fat, replenishing the energy your body is putting into fighting your infection.
Best of all, hot chicken soup improves nasal mucus velocity, helping your body expel pathogens and speed healing.
Vegetable broth is equally healing, so don’t think that you’re missing out if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
This powerful bulb has the ability to prevent the common cold if taken daily for at least three months time. In fact, this habit can make you more than 50% less likely to suffer from a cold. It also shortens the duration of a cold (2).
That’s because garlic has antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits, among other things.
3. Astragalus Root
Astragalus Root is a Chinese herb that’s been used for centuries to strengthen the body’s internal systems. It’s an adaptogen, which strengthens your body’s resistance to physical, mental, or emotional stress. It works by boosting immune response, lowering blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, and improving liver function. Plus, it’s particularly known to help against the common cold, allergic rhinitis and hayfever (3).
Ginger is an incredible spice for inflammation, swelling, and pain typically caused by the cold and flu. It also has the ability to directly fight your infection. Fresh ginger actually protects against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) infections by blocking viral attachment and internalization. This virus is responsible for various infections, including the common cold (4).
Best of all, ginger improves digestive issues, nausea, and appetite loss caused by the cold to speed up your recovery. It even soothes a sore throat.
Onion, like garlic, is a potent antiviral. It also contains quercetin, a heart-healthy flavonoid that boosts immune response and relieves allergy symptoms (5).
With a few good cups of this best soup for a cold, your illness will be gone in no time! Just make sure to stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of tea, and get plenty of rest.