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How 6 Everyday Ingredients Create The Ultimate Immunity-Boosting Soup

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

A healthy immune system doesn’t come from vitamin C alone; you need a calibrated combination of different nutrients. Certain foods in particular bolster your defenses, not just during cold and flu season but all year long. This soothing, hearty soup combines six immunity-boosting ingredients, making each bowlful a prevention powerhouse.

This easy soup is full of immunity-boosting foods: vitamin C-rich kale, vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms, zinc-containing chicken and chickpeas, and antioxidant-packed garlic. Plus, the hot, steamy broth and a hint of pepper heat get your nose running—great for flushing out sinuses and potentially staving off an infection. It’s a big pot of brothy soup that you can make ahead and enjoy for a couple of days; the flavor just gets better over time. You may be wary of the large amount of garlic, but keep in mind that it mellows considerably after being cooked. Though we love using bone-in chicken breasts here, you can also swap in 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast in a pinch (be aware that it will add more sodium).

View Recipe: Immunity Soup

The 6 Immunity Boosters that Make This Soup Effective and Flavorful

  • CHICKPEAS: A good source of zinc. As with vitamin D, a zinc deficiency is associated with lowered immunity. Red meat and chicken are also zinc-rich.
  • DARK LEAFY GREENS: Kale and similar greens are rich in the antioxidant vitamin C. The C, paired with zinc from the chicken and chickpeas, delivers a one-two knockout blow to cold symptoms.
  • GARLIC: These bulbs contain allicin, one of the world's most powerful antioxidants. A 2014 study found that people who eat garlic every day are nearly two-thirds less likely to catch a cold than non– garlic eaters.
  • HOT BROTH: Steaming stock makes your nose run, which helps flush out congestion. Broth-based soups also keep you hydrated.
  • CRUSHED RED PEPPER: Capsaicin, which adds heat, can clear sinuses.
  • MUSHROOMS: Look for fungi labeled vitamin D– rich; they're grown in ultraviolet light to spur D production. A deficiency in the nutrient has been linked to an increased risk of infection.