There’s magic in ramen chicken broth, matzo ball, and chicken noodle soup. You know this if you’ve ever had a bowl on a sick day. But are there immune-supporting ingredients that can make feel-good soups even better for us? We asked Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research. A few of the ingredients she called out surprised us (zinc is in clams!). And we ended up creating some new favorites: a creamy chicken stew that gets its richness from peanuts, a sweet and spicy coconut parsnip purée, a lighter goulash with root veggies, and a clam stew with spinach.
A lot of us could identify zinc in the supplement aisle but not in our food. This comforting soup packs in two surprising sources of zinc: peanuts and chicken. Endemann says zinc is important because “it’s necessary for the different types of white blood cells to carry out their specialized functions fighting pathogens.”
There’s some sweetness and a little kick to this creamy soup, which is often what we want when we’re not feeling well. We added parsnips for flavor and function—this unglamorous vegetable may be the next superfood. Parsnips provide multiple vitamins and minerals,including vitamin C, for the immune system and overall good health, says Endemann.
“Vitamin A is needed for healthy mucous membranes in the nose and mouth and gut, which are our body’s first line of defense against pathogens,” says Endemann. And this goulash has tons of vitamin A, thanks to the sweet potato and carrots. They also happen to lend sweetness to this savory spiced stew.
It’s a double whammy for immunity: Clams and spinach are good sources of zinc and vitamin A, respectively. We also like using Korean-style soybean paste here—its flavor is more assertive than miso. (You could use miso in a pinch, but it won’t pack the same umami punch.)