I’ll admit, I’m a bit autumn-obsessed. I love a cozy sweater, some jazz music, the leaves falling and a warm cup of anything pumpkin spice. I also love the idea of new seasons, and new opportunities. Anytime the seasons change I take it as an opportunity for growth and change – and love the feeling of starting fresh! Unfortunately, my immune system doesn’t share the same kinda love for the season, and as winter creeps around the corner, I know I need to arm my immune system with some of the best tools nature has to offer.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the changing of seasons and the body’s adjustment to new temperatures often leaves our immune defences depleted and vulnerable. I am sure you’ve already begun to notice an increase in respiratory issues either personally or around you in the last little while – and if you live somewhere with a snowy, cold winter like I do, it usually only gets worse from here.
If this sounds like your situation, don’t fret. We have just the thing for you to try this season to support your immune system and get you ready for the changing season. It’s called, “change of season soup”, and it’s one of my favourite hacks for a strong, healthy immune system.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Astragulus: 4 sticks
- Dry ginger: 1tbsp
- Codonopsis: 3 sticks
- Chinese wolfberries: 3tbsp
- Chinese Wild yam: 2 sticks
Chicken & Marinade
- 400g of skinless chicken, cut into pieces (feel free to include the bone for added nutrients)
- 2tbsp of fresh grated garlic
- 2tbsp of fresh grated ginger
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 5-10 peppercorns
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped bok choy
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (dried or fresh)
- fresh coriander to garnish
- optional: 2tbsp of turmeric powder
Instructions to Cook
- Start with marinating the chicken and leave in the fridge overnight
- Put your herbs into a big soup pot filled with water (about 15cups) or if you make your own broth, that’s even better!
- Add the marinated chicken and your optional add-ins (feel free to add anything you would like)
- Boil the water, cover & simmer for 1.5 hours or until chicken is fully cooked. (If making the soup without chicken, simmer for only 1 hour).
- Remove the astragalus, codonopsis and chinese wild yam from the pot
- Add the final addition ingredients of carrots, celery, bok choi and onions as well as any vegetables of your liking and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes
- Let it cool and add garnish
If you are interested in why we use these specific herbs in this recipe, here’s some science on their uses:
Astragalus – astragulus root is known to protect the immune system, improve our energy and tonify the lungs. This herb has the capacity to increase natural killer cell production, which helps our body fight off viral infections
Codonopsis – codonopsis root is believed to increase immune defences by tonifying and strengthening our “Qi”, which is our body’s vitality and overall energy.
Chinese yam – this root is used for the lung, and is also rich in polysaccarides, which has been linked to a healthy immune system.
Chinese wolfberries – tcm physicians actually prescribe these tp protect the kidney and liver. They are abundant in antioxidants and protect the body from free radical damage.
I made this soup a few weeks ago and had it each day for a week to help boost my immune system during this change of season. I am also allowing myself to take lots of rest as my body requires, and remembering to take my AHCC each day to help my immune system combat incoming infections. I am prioritizing light movement, instead of over-working my body, and drinking more water throughout the day. I am also incorporating more warming foods so that my body does not have to use excess energy to keep me warm.
Happy change of season, everyone!