Nicole’s Vegan Pick-Me-Up Soup

This winter season in the States has given me sunny days, blankets of snow, and ice storms. If we get the storm they’re calling for overnight, March will truly come in like a lion. In the same token, it could be the last hoorah for snowy season.

As much as I’ll miss those glittering white blankets, I’m not missing the recurring colds (not to mention a meeting with COVID). All season, there was one thing I was dependent on when a sickness hit, and that was Nicole’s signature vegan immunity soup.

The calm before several snow storms; Nicole on a sunny day at Hawk Falls in early December.

This recipe is an easy and scrumptious meal that’s jam-packed with immunity boosting ingredients. In a house traditionally full of carnivorous meals, my sister’s plant-based expertise is a Godsend for sick days. Even if you just want a light meal to whip up on a snow day and take you through the week, this is easy, healthy, and delicious.

The ingredients:

  • 1 lb (16 oz) mushrooms
  • 3 cups kale (or other greens)
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 3-4 tbsp miso
  • 1 tsp better than boullion (v), or 1 boullion cube
  • seasoning to garnish

These simple ingredients pack in all sorts of vitamins and antioxidants without sacrificing on flavour. Once you gather them all, the soup comes together in a few simple steps, starting with:

I. Roast two heads of garlic

This step takes time, so do it up front.

Garlic is a superstar, and that’s not just because it’s so damn tasty. From fighting the common cold to reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, garlic is one of Western medicine’s earliest remedies. This soup wouldn’t be as powerful without it.

To get that immunity boost and some delicious flavour, roast two whole cloves. (Adjust for taste, if you must).

Garlic roasting tips: Hack off the top of the bulb, drizzle it in olive oil, and pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. A toaster oven works wonders to roast the garlic with very little hassle.

II. Sauté the mushrooms

It wouldn’t be cooking with Nicole if there weren’t cute utensils involved.

Mushrooms are the mood right now. Do you have any idea how integral they are to life on earth?

Without spiralling into a mushroom-loving manifesto, a selection of thinly-sliced or chopped mushrooms of your choice lends a great meaty texture and vitamin boost to the soup.

We used white mushrooms, but this recipe would be great with baby bellas, oyster mushrooms, or even lion’s mane if you can get your hands on it.

Put them in a pan with some oil over medium heat. Sauce until they’ve browned (3-5 minutes)

III. Make the broth

This broth starts off with a 4-6 cups of vegetable broth and 1 tsp of Garlic-flavoured “better than bouillon” (omnivores may opt for chicken bouillon cubes, if desired). At this stage, you’ll also add the roasted garlic; simply squeeze it from its shell, mash it to a pulp with a fork, and stir it through.

WARNING: don’t add the miso until the broth is done boiling!

Miso has massively beneficial properties for your gut health. It’s fermented, and therefore alive. Too hot of a bath will kill all the gut-boosting goodness, so best practice is to always add it at the end simply to dissolve in hot broth, but not to cook.

After the broth reaches a boil, turn off the heat and stir in the miso paste.

IV. Stir in the mushrooms and kale

Once the broth comes together, it’s time to add the mushrooms and kale.

Kale is an incredible superfood…but one that some people might find either offensive or hard to find. Whatever your reason for skipping out on kale, you have other options. It’s easy to swap for other supergreens like spinach or bok choy.

“My heart hasn’t rested for a long time. My immune system is very low. I have not been able to find kale anywhere here!”

David Rose, S1E6 “Wine and Roses”

V. Top it all off + Serve

The toppings take this soup to another level and (surprise!) add an extra little dash of immune-boosting ingredients. Pick your favourites or add your own personal flair.

We like a selection of:

  • Fresh-squeezed lemon (vitamin C)
  • Fresh scallions (B-complex and vitamins)
  • Crushed red pepper (antioxidants and anti-inflammation)
  • Black garlic (ditto)
  • Umami seasoning (because YUM)

If you’re looking to keep the health properties secure, the soup relies on the miso, garlic, and super greens. The lemon is a nice touch too, but other than that, there’s definitely some room for personalization!

God-willing COVID hasn’t robbed you of your taste, you can also add a touch of soy sauce, hoisin, or hot sauce for extra flavour. No matter your style, this soup can suit your needs and put you on a cozy road to recovery.


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