I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for this last little while– fighting off some cold symptoms- so I when the weekend finally hit I decided it was time for a nice “chicken” soup and early to bed night. Instead of using tofu or dried soy chicken, I naturally turned to my newest experiment- green jackfruit. It worked very well cut into small chunks, with looks and texture remarkably like chicken in the soup.
But- chicken soup has been shown to actually help colds, and I wanted to do more than just soothe myself psychologically, so it was time for a little research into why chicken soup in particular helps a cold. According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD’s research, chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine that is released when the soup is made. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process. So I checked the nutrition charts where I discovered that 100g of chicken contains 42% of the RDA of methionine and cysteine (both are listed as interchangeable in charts) and jackfruit only contains 3-8% of the RDA. However, I also discovered that good plant sources of Cysteine include lentils (21% for 100g), miso (12%), and onions, peppers, and garlic.
Also, Dr Rennard notes that onions in chicken soup “contain protein, calcium, and especially sulfur, which decreases swelling and aids in reducing nasal congestion. Another significant ingredient in chicken soup is carrots. Carrots enable our bodies to produce vitamin A, which strengthens our white blood cells and in turn allows us to better fight off infection”, and “hot soups in general help keep nasal passages moist, thin out mucus, prevent dehydation, and soothe a sore throat”, so “the more ingredients in your soup, the better”.
With all of this new information, I was ready to make my own vegan version of healing “chicken” soup. Feel free to change up the vegetables based on what you have on hand.
“Vegan Penicillin Soup”
– One onion.
– Two carrots.
– One green pepper.
– 1/2 red pepper, chopped (what I had in the fridge, I’d add more if I had it but I wasn’t feeling like a grocery trip)
– One stalk of celery
– 1/2 cup of snap peas.
– 1/2 cup of pasta noodles- whatever you have.
– 1 cup/1 can of cooked lentils.
– 1/2 can of jackfruit, chopped (again, this is what I had leftover from the last recipe, so feel free to use the whole can and make a larger batch- adjust amounts of ingredients using your culinary discretion and preferences).
– 6-8 cups of vegetable broth.
– 2-4 tablespoons of miso (adjust type and amount to your taste).
– Lots of freshly ground black pepper.
– Chop vegetables and jackfruit.
– Pre-soften the vegetables in the frying pan for a few minutes.
– Put the vegetable broth in a pot, add the miso and vegetables.
– Add the jackfruit, lentils, and pasta, and simmer for at least 1/2 hour- the longer the better to blend the flavours.
– Enjoy hot with some warm bread or a bit of salad.