There seems to have been a flurry of winter bugs doing the rounds, so you definitely need this gut-healing, immune boosting Leek, Mushroom and Bone Broth Soup to ward them off.
The vegetables I have selected for this soup will have your immune system ready to attack any virus that comes its way, and your healthy gut bacteria doing a little victory dance all over your digestive system. Not only does this soup help boost immune activity, but it is a powerful restorative remedy if you have been struck down with a tummy bug or respiratory virus.
Here's a run-down of the nutritional superstars that make up this Leek, Mushroom and Bone Broth Soup:
Leeks- leeks are in a category of foods known as "prebiotics". This means that they stimulate the growth of the healthy bacteria (PRObiotics) throughout the digestive system (primarily the small intestine). Having a good population of beneficial gut bacteria strengthens the immune system.
Mushrooms- mushrooms have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. Many mushrooms are antiviral and antibacterial. They are a source of selenium, vitamin D and polyphenols (antioxidants) and are a great food to include regularly in your diet, especially some of the more unusual mushrooms (not *that* sort of unusual!) I used organic chestnut mushrooms which came in my Abel & Cole box this week.
Onions and garlic- these pungent babies have got health benefits coming out of their pores. Like leeks, they fall in the prebiotics category, so great for your gut bacteria. They are a rich source of sulphur which is required to manufacture one of the body's premier antioxidants, known as glutathione, needed to stave off damage to the body. Onions also contain quercetin, which is has potent anti-inflammatory properties. And garlic is one of nature's most powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal foods. So you are getting a massive hit of nutritional goodness from these two bad boys. Don't hold back!
Cabbage- another sulphur-rich food, cabbage comes from the family of cruciferous vegetables which has strong antioxidant properties. I also chose cabbage for its role in healing the gastro-intestinal tract. Cabbage juice is an age-old remedy used for soothing and healing digestive disorders, so this is a good one to add if you've had an upset tummy.
Bone Broth- or home-made chicken stock. This ingredient is probably the star of the show. Obviously, it provides the liquid for the soup, but the nutritional benefits of using home-made bone broth outweigh a stock cube by about a gazillian to one. So, quite a lot. Making your own bone broth is a really easy habit to get into, especially if you have a slow cooker. Every time you roast chicken or use boned chicken portions, do not even think about throwing those old bones out! Throw them in the slow cooker instead, cover with water, and leave overnight. You can add an onion or a carrot, a bay leaf or some peppercorns if you fancy. In the morning, strain off the liquid which can be kept in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or you can freeze it (not in the glass jar!)
What's so special about bone broth? It differs slightly from chicken soup, which my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her, have been using to nurse their children back to health for eternity. The concept, and the nutritional goodness, however, is the same. Bones are an incredible source of protein, collagen and glutamine which are amazing for reducing inflammation and healing the gut. It is thought that auto-immune conditions stem from a 'leaky gut' (microscopic holes in the small intestine which allow toxins and undigested food into the bloodstream, which causes the body to mount an immune reaction on itself). Consumed daily, bone broth could help to seal these leaks.
I strongly encourage you to start using bone broth in your cooking, as a base for soups or stews. The depth of flavour and health benefits that it brings to a dish are outstanding!
Add all the ingredients to a very large saucepan, bring to the boil, simmer on a low light for 30-45 minutes. Blend using a hand-held blender and enjoy a steaming hot bowl straight away.
If you love soups, and who doesn't at this time of year, then why not try some of my other soup recipes:
Or for something a bit more substantial, try this delicious Squash, Lentil and Spinach Curry.