We made an excellent soup recently that is particularly good in cold and flu season. Supposedly, most of the main ingredients–garlic, ginger, shitake mushrooms, winter squash, kale, cayenne–have immunological benefits and/or very high levels of important vitamins and minerals.

More importantly, though, the soup tastes really good and is very satisfying. The mushrooms, ginger, citrus and miso give it an Asian flavor, not unlike a hot and sour soup with some extra goodies thrown in.

Immunity for the Community with Impunity

• 6 cups water and 4 cups vegetable/ chicken stock; a
little miso
• 1 TBSP olive oil
• 1 yellow onion, diced
• 1 head garlic, minced cloves
• 2 TBSP fresh ginger, grated
• 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
• Half a bunch of kale, finely chopped
• 5 pieces sliced dried astragalus root (optional)
• 2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
• Juice of one lemon or orange
• Cayenne to tolerance
• Salt and pepper

1. In a soup pot, heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions,
and ginger until onions are translucent then add
the kale and squash.
2. Add liquids, shiitake, astragalus and bring to a boil.
3. Simmer covered for at least an hour.
4. Remove astragalus and reheat.
5. Add pepper and cayenne powder if desired
(just enough to make your face sweat).
6. Add the miso at the end after all other ingredients
have been cooked. First dissolve it in a ladle of
broth then add the diluted miso to the soup.
7. Add salt to taste (between the broth and the miso,
I didn’t think it needed any)

Like most soups, this is better the next day. The ginger and cayenne flavors can be overwhelming right after it’s made, but everything eventually mellows and blends. I also added the cayenne as soon as I started cooking rather than at the end.

This recipe is from Oryana Food Co-op, which is located in northern lower Michigan (where I grew up).

We weren’t able to find the astragalus (except in pill form, which didn’t sound appetizing). If you can get it, though, it would add a nice flavor.

  • nonnasvoice

    We have all been sick, so I will definitely make this soup this week. I am curious about a couple things–what kind of miso? and did you try the food coop in university circle or mustard seed for the astralgus root? what sort of flavor does it add?

  • Ben

    We used red miso (the full name is “Westbrae organic mellow red miso”). I tried Whole Foods for the astragalus. Mustard Seed is a ways away from us, and I’d forgotten that there was a food coop in University Circle–I wouldn’t be surprised if both of those places had it. Based on making a tea from astragalus capsules, I’d say its flavor is a mild combination of ginger and ginseng–it’s very earthy. I’ve also heard its anti-bacterial properties are better supported than those of echinacea (although still not certain).

    Also, in retrospect, I probably should have added the cayenne (or, even better, chili oil) at the end. The overwhelming flavor at first was probaby from cooking the cayenne for so long.

    Thanks for reading our blog, and I hope you enjoy the soup!

    –Ben

  • maybellesmom

    hey, i made your soup. it was great. i posted a pict and linked to you.