The 5 Best Soups for Easing Cold and Flu Symptoms
When we’re down and out with a cold or the flu, one of the only things we feel like eating is a nice, hot cup of soup. There’s an obvious reason for that – when our throat is sore or we’re coughing, we want something that’s easy to swallow and will go down nice and easy. There are definitely a lot of options for soups, but did you know that some stand out more than others? We’re going to look at 5 of the best homemade soups for cold and flu and how they pack a healthy punch at a time when our bodies need it most.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup is hands-down one of the best homemade soups for cold and flu. A study conducted by a researcher at Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup “may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity,” and that it’s mild anti-inflammatory effects could help relieve symptoms of upper respiratory infections1.
One of the best homemade Chicken Noodle Soup recipes I’ve found is this gluten-free 30-Minute Easy Chicken Noodle Soup from Evolving Table. It really is easy! The onions, carrots, garlic, chicken and pasta (I leave out the celery) make it a hearty meal that doesn’t leave you hungry while also not feeling like it’s too much. The herbs and salt and pepper also give it a good kick that will open your sinuses and help with congestion. Using lentil or chickpea rotini for your pasta will make sure that you’re getting as much protein as possible, which will help you to get your strength back.
**Nut-free substitution: I use oat milk for this recipe instead of almond milk.
Vegan Roasted Garlic and Lemon Soup
We know that garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to support the immune system2,3, so that makes this Vegan Roasted Garlic and Lemon Soup from The Spruce Eats perfect for easing cold and flu symptoms. As the recipe says, the part of the recipe that takes the longest is roasting the garlic, but it’s not active time involved at all. You can be preparing another soup recipe while you’re waiting for your garlic to cook. The soup has a great earthy flavor that’s not too heavy. If you want to give it a protein boost and make it heartier, the recipe suggests adding lentils, chickpeas or quinoa.
The good news is that if you’re sick, you’re probably not going to be kissing anyone anyway, so slurp up! There’s no need to worry about garlic breath!
**Soy-free substitution: I use oat milk for this recipe instead of soy milk.
There’s a reason that tomato soup is one of the best homemade soups for cold and flu. It’s smooth, thick and comforting, and oh so easy on a raw throat. Tomatoes are also a great source of Vitamin C, which may not do much for helping to ease your suffering4, but it will offer numerous other health benefits5 whether you’re sick or not.
As you’re prepping for cold and flu season, this Slow Cooker Tomato Soup from Delish Knowledge can be put together quickly in the slow cooker before you leave for the day and will be just about ready when you come home. Made with straightforward, simple ingredients, there’s no high fructose corn syrup or wheat flour that you usually find in the canned versions.
Once the soup is cooked, I still have large chunks of the whole tomatoes sitting in the liquid. I put the entire recipe into my food processor and it quickly becomes a soup consistency.
**Substitution notes: Instead of the sugar, I use powdered Stevia. I also use the cashew cream in half of the recipe and oat milk for the other half to make it nut-free for my son.
Miso soup is a godsend when you’re sick. It literally soothes you from the inside out (I had actually written that description and then read Karrie’s post over at Happy Money Saver. She said almost the same thing, so you know it’s true!!)
Miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a mold called koji. Karrie’s Freezer Friendly Loaded Miso Soupbuilds on that base by adding chicken breast, tofu, mushrooms, garlic and bok choy. In other words, it is loaded with goodness that may not cure you, but it will help you to join the land of the living at least for the few minutes that you’re eating it. While any miso soup can be frozen, this version was made with that function in mind.
**Substitution note: In order to make this plant-based, I omit the chicken breasts and chicken broth, use vegetable broth instead and add more tofu than the recipe calls for. It works fine and includes plenty of protein.
Vegetable Beef Soup
When you’re sick, the last thing you usually feel like doing is eating a lot. That’s why it’s important that when you do eat, you fill up on all the things that are going to nourish you and help you to keep up your strength. This Vegetable Beef Soup from Cooking Classy will help you to do just that. Featuring beef, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, broth, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, corn, peas and herbs, this pot of comfort literally has it all.
**Substitution note: If the idea of swallowing beef stew meat seems like it will be too much, you can easily substitute ground beef. You can also just make it a vegetable soup by leaving out the meat entirely and using vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken.
Important Notes About Homemade Soups for Cold and Flu
You’re going to want to spend time early in cold and flu season making a couple of these types of soup and freezing them. Even the easiest of recipes can be too much to do when you’re feeling bad. Having them prepared ahead of time lets you maintain your habit of eating minimally processed food even when you’re feeling your worst. It also makes sure that you have what you need, when you need it, so that you don’t have to run to the store when you should really be in bed.
All of the soups featured here are broth-based, which makes them easier on you than cream-based soups when your stomach may be feeling a little unsettled anyway because of congestion.
To Freeze Soup
To freeze soup, let it cool completely and then measure into 1 to 1 ½ cup portions. Place the portions in a quarter freezer bag and press out as much air as possible. If you’re prepping a soup that includes noodles or pasta, just freeze the soup portion. The pasta will come out mushy if you try to freeze it. Simply heat the soup in a pot when you’re ready and then add the pasta at that point to cook for a few minutes.
Lean on Your Community
These are the best homemade soups for cold and flu as far as I’m concerned. What are your favorites? Feel free to share in the comments below so that we can all benefit from our collective unfortunate experiences and help to make cold and flu season a little more bearable this year. Of course, what’s best would be for none of us to get sick at all!
- Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691
- Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25961060
- Immunomodulatory Effects of Aged Garlic Extract. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11238820
- National Institutes of Health. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/#en12
- Mayo Clinic. Vitamin C. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-c/art-20363932