Key takeaways
  • A robust immune system is your first line of defence against seasonal ailments like colds and flu
  • A great first step to preparing your body for winter begins with being more intentional and informed about the foods you consume
  • Key immune-strengthening foods include pumpkin, red onions, ginger, garlic, thyme and Shiitake mushrooms

The autumn-winter transition often brings along with it the dreaded seasonal ailments like colds, flus, and just generally feeling a bit run down. It seems almost every second person has a sniffle or is recovering from a virus of some sort. One of the best ways to nourish your body during this time, whether you’re currently getting over a virus or are interested in strengthening your immune system to prevent sickness, is by including more nutrient-dense and medicinal meals in your diet.

Often recipes that are labelled as being ‘healthy’, ‘nutrient-dense’ or a  ‘superfood’, have the connotation of compromising on taste. You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘if it tastes bad you know it’s good for you!’.

While this is sometimes the case, you can rest assured that the pumpkin soup recipe below is simple, comforting and will gently support your immune system while also keeping your tastebuds happy. This is a classic pumpkin soup, with a naturopathic twist making it extra medicinal and healing.

This is one of the first recipes I came across when I started learning about herbal medicine and nutrition. I loved flicking through the pages of books by naturopaths, herbalists and healers from different time periods and soaking up their wisdom. I was instantly captivated when reading about the medicinal actions of well-known herbs like garlic and thyme, and was surprised to turn the page and find a simple pumpkin soup recipe.

I’d always found homemade soups to be comforting and healing, and as I began to learn about naturopathy, herbs and nutrition, I started understanding why certain foods make us feel good! As a now fully qualified naturopath, I’ve adapted this recipe over time to be even more nutrient-dense and medicinal, while keeping it simple and delicious.

Let’s start with the ingredients and the benefits of each.

Immune-strengthening ingredients

This recipe is packed with medicinal foods to support cold and flu recovery as well as prevention, here is an overview of the unique medicinal actions of the key ingredients.

Pumpkin: a great source of fibre and carbohydrates, and contains vitamin A, C and E which helps strengthen the immune system.

Red onions: rich in anthocyanin, a flavonoid which gives it its lovely purple colour and immune-boosting, antioxidant properties.

Ginger: this gorgeous herb is so refreshing and fragrant. Ginger contains antiviral and antioxidant compounds which help to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system in times of illness.

Garlic: this herb has a rich history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years. The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, possesses antimicrobial properties that help the body fight off infections. Garlic is also rich in antioxidants, which help to boost the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.

Shiitake mushrooms: this is one of the most well-researched medicinal mushrooms and is incredibly valuable in supporting immunity. They are rich in phytonutrients and polysaccharides which stimulate the immune system to clear the body of pathogens.

Fresh thyme: I love the fragrance of thyme. This herb offers many benefits for cold and flu support. It contains compounds like thymol and carvacrol, which have antimicrobial properties, helping to combat respiratory infections. Thyme also supports the clearance of mucus from the airways, which can alleviate coughing and congestion.

Chicken broth: broth adds a lovely flavour to the soup and is rich in nutrients and minerals to support the body in recovering from illness. You can swap for chicken or vegetable stock if needed, but it’s not quite as medicinal as a broth.

Organic butter: this adds a lovely creaminess to the soup and is rich in butyrate which helps heal the gut lining, and a healthy immune system begins with a healthy gut!  Swap for extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or vegan butter to make this dairy-free.

Immune-boosting pumpkin soup

Ingredients

1.5kg pumpkin, diced into large chunks, skin removed (Kent or butternut work best)

1-2 red onions, chopped

2 tbsp organic butter

1 L chicken broth or stock

6 cloves garlic, sliced

A large thumb-sized piece of ginger, skin removed and grated

5 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, stems removed

Handful of shiitake mushrooms (fresh or you can rehydrate dried ones), sliced

To garnish

Fresh coriander leaves

Plain Greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Chop all your veggies beforehand and set aside. If using dried shiitake mushrooms, follow the packet instructions to rehydrate and set aside
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add your butter and diced red onions and stir until caramelised (about 5 mins). Then add in your garlic and minced ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant
  3. Add in your diced pumpkin and stir for about 1 minute, then add in your chicken broth or stock
  4. Turn up the heat, bring to a gentle simmer then reduce to a low heat and cover with a lid
  5. At this stage, you can add in your thyme and chopped shiitake mushrooms
  6. Leave to simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender (pierce with butter knife to check)
  7. Once the pumpkin is soft, turn off the heat and blitz using a stick blender
  8. Once the texture of the soup is nice and smooth, you’re ready to garnish and serve! (note: if your soup is too thick, add a little water from the kettle)
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! I also love adding a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some crispy chilli oil for a bit of spice

There’s so much power in knowing how to create nourishing meals and sharing these with the people you love (including yourself) when our immune systems need a little extra support.

I hope you love this soup, and it brings you some warmth and comfort as we head into the chilly part of the year. You might be inspired to add more herbal medicines into your meals, or even start your own herb garden!

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About 
Teagan Hee
As part of the clinic support team, Teagan brings a unique blend of expertise to her role, with many years experience working in customer support roles as well as being a qualified naturopath with her own side business.
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{ "datePublished": "Jun 27, 2024" }