Judith Dunbar Hines' flu-fighting soup and the ingredients. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:02AM
Just as we try to relax and enjoy the calm of January, a new set of stress-inducing signs pop up:
Get your flu shot — now. Wash those hands with soap and water — a lot. Don’t forget to take your vitamins.
It’s flu season, and it’s hit the area hard. So many are suffering with the symptom that hospitals were forced to turn away patients from their emergency rooms, according to news stories.
There are certainly as many cures as there are variations on the illness. Old grandmother cures, dismissed for years, seem to be coming back in updated forms. Maybe the garlic clove tied around the neck won’t work, but plenty of garlic in our food seems to have some sway against the bug.
Asian-style pharmacology divides foods into warm and cool attributes and this is the time to focus on the warm list: hot and spicy ingredients such as ginger and chiles certainly will help with stuffy noses and bronchial issues.
Plenty of Vitamin C, from citrus and other fruits, always is prescribed when clouds bring chilly wet weather.
But what about those antioxidants everyone talks about? Do you even know what they are or what they do, not to mention how to get them into your menu?
Simply put, antioxidants help keep our immune systems strong and better able to fight off cold, flu and other infections. They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can interfere with your immune system.
Experts advise including the brightest colored fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet because those foods contain the most immune-boosting anti-oxidants. Get plenty of betacarotene, vitamin C and vitamin E by focusing on the orange, red, yellow and dark green colors in the produce section.
Use vegetable oils such as olive or soybean for their Vitamin E content, which also is present in kale and chard, squash and bell peppers. In addition to citrus, vitamin C can be found in spinach, broccoli, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Get beta-
carotene from a variety of dark orange, red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits.
After a study of the facts, I wanted a recipe that combined as many of these good-for-you ingredients in one dish as possible. At this time of year, a hearty, warming soup is an easy way to make that combination really add up in the benefits department.
To prevent the loss of those important vitamins, it is best to cook them quickly or, in the case of hard vegetables, at least cook them without boiling in water that dilutes them. In this recipe, the squash is roasted first. Vegetable broth and orange juice provide the liquid, and the soup is only cooked long enough to bring all of the parts into harmony.
Surrounded by a chorus of sneezing, coughing, sniffling family members on the first day that long-awaited snow coated the ground, I served this soup and declared our table a flu-fighter zone. I hope it works for you as well as it did for us.
Judith Dunbar Hines is a cooking teacher, tour guide, writer and culinary consultant in Chicago. Contact her at email@example.com.