A perfect soup for strengthening the immune system for this time of year is organic chicken bone broth with Astragalus root, shiitake mushroom, onion, garlic and thyme. Astragalus membranaceus root is an immune modulator and stimulant which is well researched for its use alongside cancer treatments.
It is anti-viral and used to treat allergies. Although native to China it grows very well here at our herb farm in north Sligo. We harvest our Astragalus roots in September to dry and tincture and use it in soups and stews for building immunity. Adding Astragalus to a chicken stock base with shitake mushrooms and other herbs is the perfect way to use it.
Shitake mushrooms, available from Tesco, are another fantastic winter food containing polysaccharides which stimulate the immune system by increasing cell function. Garlic and onions are a must have in any winter soup. The volatile oils they contain give them a warming expectorant and anti-bacterial and anti-viral action making them potent natural antibiotic for cold and flu's. Including common Thyme into the soup is useful for throat and chest infections. This medicinal soup can be taken by the whole family young and old. It is best made fresh during a cold or flu or taken regularly throughout the winter months.
1 litre of homemade organic chicken stock
200g fresh Shitake mushrooms
1tbsp Astragalus root
3 Garlic cloves - crushed
1tbsp fresh Thyme (2tsp dried)
2tbsp Olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a pot. Chop the onions, Shitake mushrooms and garlic and cook for 5 mins until soft. Add in the thyme and stir. Add the chicken stock and chopped Astragalus root and bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 30mins. Whizz up the whole soup with a hand blender to a smooth consistency. Serve hot.