Cold Kickin’ Soup

The kindergarten virus-mobile is in full swing.  I’d forgotten what fun the first two months of the school year can be.  We all had a turn in the first go round, a bit of a cold with astonishing lethargy and dopey-headedness.  The second round is actually just an extension of the first and involves chest congestion, and for my poor little man, a sort of seal-like sound that his body produces when he gets a cough.  While we are all nearly well, I thought little man could use a leg up, and I thought perhaps a little immune system attention couldn’t hurt.  I remembered a soup…  a soup I experimented with, um, last fall when this kind of poo was going on.  There are an awful lot of claims out there about superfoods and magical ingredients.  I honestly have no idea if any individual food is a superfood or not, but I do know that some foods are super and when combined seem to, at the very least, provide relief for sniffling and hacking.  Last time I played with this soup, I’m pretty sure I kicked a cold’s drippy behind in a couple of days.  Was it coincidence?  Perhaps, but either way, this soup is full of healthful ingredients that will help your body do its thing…  And so, even with jalapeños in the list of ingredients, I decided we would all give it a go.  And so I give you:

Cold Kickin’ Soup – adapted from Ming Tsai’s Immunity Soup

  • 1 T oil
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced with seeds
  • 1 tbsp minced  fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, green and white parts sliced
  • 2/3  lb shiitakes, stems removed and tops 1/4-in sliced
  • 2 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • about half a bunch of kale (I used a small mixing bowl full from the garden), torn from the big part of the stem, and ripped into manageable pieces
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Prep Notes: When chopping the jalapeño, I STRONGLY recommend wearing gloves, or putting plastic bags on your hands.  This advice is particularly important for those of you who wear contact lenses.  Yes, this is the voice of experience.  OW.  To chop fresh ginger, I use the edge of a knife blade to slide the skin off, or I cut if off if that doesn’t work.  For the mushrooms, yes you really DO want to de-stem because the stems are quite rubbery.  Most people who don’t like shiitake mushrooms, don’t like the stems.  If you’ve got a microplane, use that bad boy to zest your lemons.  There.  Moving right along.

Warm oil in a soup sized pot.  Just higher than medium should do it.  Add the jalapeño, ginger, and garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and scallions.  Saute for a few more minutes, being sure to give the mushrooms enough time to soften.  Add your stock and soy sauce, bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5-10 minutes to allow the soup to reduce a bit and for flavors to mingle.  Add kale, cook for about 2 minutes.  Add lemon juice, zest, and carrots.  Cook for two minutes longer.  Add black pepper to taste.  Done.  Serve in favorite bowl with giant spoon.

Really?  That’s it?  That’s all to the story?  Of course not.  I didn’t tell you about the rest of the table….  because of course there was a rest of the table.  I am generally a pretty tough customer about having my children try new foods.  We have a rule, borrowed from Big Sis, two real bites of whatever is new.  As I was making this soup, and remembering sweating while I ate it last year (last year’s pepper was far more potent), I realized that little miss was going to have an issue.  And that while I might be able to convince her to try it, she would not be eating it.  I was right (it is nice to right once in a while where she is concerned), and so it was lovely to have on the table a big bowl of brown rice that we sprinkled with rice vinegar with a splash of maple syrup to give it that sushi rice taste (inspired by Big Sis’ sushi salad), and some broccoli I grilled with olive oil and soy sauce, thanks to my good friend at Emmy Cooks.  A bowl full of farmer’s market green beans (raw, yum), and the last of the chickpea nofu (I’m working on the recipe, I promise), and we had a pretty happy crowd, a pretty happy crowd with less chest congestion to boot.  Delish.