Saturday, December 11, 2010

Immunity-boosting soup

We've had wild temperature swings in DC lately, and this has, inevitably, led to everyone getting sick. Everywhere I go, there's a cacophony of coughing, sneezing, and sniffling. Some dude even sneezed into my hair on the Metro on my way to work this week. This was profoundly uncool of him. I'd be lying if I said I didn't bust out the Lysol wipes on my hair when I got to my office. (I'm not kidding. I Lysoled my head.)

Suffice it to say, I'm adamant about not getting sick. I often find that, once I'm sick, it's all a downward spiral: the virus sets up a base camp in my lungs, eventually morphs into a bacterial infection, and I have to send in the Marines of the antibiotic world to rid myself of it. If I can avoid getting sick in the first place, though, it's smooth sailing.

Among the various elements of my immunity arsenal is - as evidenced by the title of this post - soup. Fluids help flush out viral infections, and I've found that garlic and hot pepper do my body a world of good. When I feel under the weather or if I'm being exposed to a lot of viruses, this is my go-to recipe.

Immunity-boosting soup (I'm really tempted to call this Kickass Immunity Soup instead):

2 C vegetable broth
1/2 C lentils, washed and picked over
2 shallots
7 cloves garlic (I use a lot of garlic, but that's because I love it - if it's too strong for you, modify this to an amount that works for you)
1/2 C red quinoa
1 T Italian herb mix, or to taste
1/2 t sea salt, or to taste
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 t Red pepper flakes
1 pinch of ground black pepper
2 t olive oil (preferably International Collection Blood Orange variety - this stuff is awesome, and it really makes the flavors pop; if it's not available at your grocery store, you can use regular olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar to give the flavors some complexity)

Heat 2 t olive oil in a stock pot. Peel and finely slice the shallots, then add them to the olive oil and let them simmer. Finely dice the garlic and, along with a bit of black pepper, add to the onions and olive oil. Saute until everything starts to caramelize.

When the shallots and garlic have started to brown, add the vegetable stock, lentils, quinoa, carrots, and spices. Simmer until tender. Serve, or, in my case, set aside to take for lunch on Monday -- and hope no one sneezes into your hair during your morning commute. :)

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