A couple of days ago, I woke with that sort of tell-tale throat tickle and overall sense of malaise that just makes you want to stay in bed all day. It was a Saturday so fortunately I was able to rest a lot, but given the numerous nasty colds–and the terrible flu–that are going around, I was also proactive that day about taking steps to try to avoid getting sicker. The next morning I felt better, and today I feel even better still, so in addition to the recipe for a terrific immune-boosting soup, I’d like to share with you what I do when I feel like I am starting to come down with any sort of winter “bug”.

Without fail, whenever I feel under the weather, I make something very similar to this Coconut Milk Soup with Wild Salmon and Kale. Homemade stock (made from bones) and coconut milk both contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties so I love to combine them for the broth. Adding fresh ginger, chile peppers, and nutrient-dense organic greens and pumpkin or winter squash “ups” the healing potential here even further; I also included wild salmon so this soup contains high quality protein as well as omega-3s. Keep in mind that the omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for proper functioning of the immune system and should be a regular part of your everyday diet…not just when you get sick.

Recipe for Coconut Milk Soup with Wild Salmon and Kale

Yield: 2-3 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

This soup is not just good for you, it is amazingly delicious and very easy: perfect for preparing in a jiffy whether you've got the energy to cook or not.

Ingredients:

*4 cups homemade (or store-bought) chicken, turkey, fish or vegetable stock (you can use water if you have no stock, but the soup won't be the same)
*1 1/2 cups organic whole coconut milk and cream (I like Native Harvest because the cans are BPA-free)
*1 wild salmon fillet, approximately 6-8 oz., or use free-range/organic chicken (you can cut the fish or chicken into cubes before cooking, or you can simmer the fish fillet or chicken breast whole, and then cut it into smaller pieces once it's cooked)
*1 (tightly packed) cup of chopped kale, tough stems removed (or use any other chopped leafy green such as bok choy)
*1 cup cubed winter squash or pumpkin, peeled if not organic
*3 hot chile peppers, minced (I used Serrano peppers; jalapenos will also work)
*About 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (reserve a few leaves for garnish, if you like)
*2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
*2 teaspoons organic brown sugar, coconut sugar, or palm sugar
*Freshly squeezed lime juice, for serving (I like to use ALOT)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients except for the lime juice in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the fish (or chicken) is cooked through and the pumpkin or squash is tender (about 15 minutes).

2. Ladle the soup into bowls and squeeze the lime juice over the top before serving.

Adapted from the Coconut Milk Soup in Nourishing Traditions.

It’s really important not to ignore the first signs of illness, because if you do, it will be harder to get better in a timely fashion. So, in addition to eating soups like the one above, when you first start feeling under the weather you should do the following:

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • For a sore throat: drink warm ginger tea with lemon and raw honey (or try herbal honey or my garlic honey remedy taken by the spoonful throughout the day).
  • For body aches: take warm baths with Epsom salts.
  • For general cold and flu symptoms: try Yin Chiao, a Chinese herbal formula used for centuries. Keep on hand so you can take some at the first sign of a cold or flu, or when you feel you may have been or will be exposed to cold or flu (like on an airplane).
  • Consider other herbs: astragalus, echinachea, andrographis, cat’s claw, and elder berry all have strong immune-boosting and antiviral properties.
  • Vitamin C can be taken in supplement form and may shorten the duration of a cold; rosehips is an excellent natural source.
  • For nasal congestion: try a Neti Lota pot saline rinse.
  • Aromatherapy: a few drops of eucalytpus essential oil can be added to the bathtub while you take a hot shower to create a wonderful steam for the sinuses; one drop each of lavender and thyme essential oil can be added to 1 teaspoon of raw honey and sipped as a soothing beverage with antiviral/antibacterial action.
  • *Keep in mind that you can decrease your risk of getting sick (or make it more likely that when you do get sick you won’t stay sick for long) by eating a nourishing real food diet each and every day. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is particularly important…so is getting enough high quality protein. Know that cholesterol and saturated fat are actually required to keep your immune system strong, so make sure not to eschew these completely; you’ll also do well to include lacto-fermented/cultured foods in your diet on a regular basis (many of your immune system’s cells reside in your digestive tract, and eating cultured foods helps keep your digestion healthy). Vitamin D is also super important for optimal health: deficiencies are common (especially during the winter months if you live in a Northern location) so ask you doctor to test your level and take a supplement (I take cod lover oil), if necessary. Lastly, don’t forget about the power of getting enough sleep and managing stress…both are vital for staying well.

    FYI my friends over at Nourishing Meals wrote an excellent post on this subject and you can find their tips here.

    Do you have any tried and true natural remedies for the cold and/or the flu? I would love to hear about them!

     

    61 Comments

    1. 1

      Suzanne — January 14, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

      Lovely soup and great information, thank you. Saving all of this it will come in very handy this winter.

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

        I think it’s good to be prepared!!!

    2. 2

      Denise — January 14, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

      Winnie, I am adding this to my home remedy list. It sounds perfect for our next round of cold season. Love all the flavors and the addition of salmon and kale, makes it perfect!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

        Thanks Denise!

    3. 3

      Beth (OMG! Yummy) — January 14, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

      I love the color of the soup with the salmon and kale but my daughter is allergic to salmon (super frustrating for her, especially at all post Bar/Bat Mitzvah brunches that always serve lox :-)) But I digress – what other fish might you suggest with similar properties that would work in a soup?

      Great post Winnie – I always drink hot water, lemon, and honey and take Vit C, both on your list. I really like some of the other suggestions. I also never miss an antibacterial wipe at the grocery store these days before touching the cart – a preventative measure, not a cure.

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

        You know, I am not sure what other fish I would use. I almost always use wild salmon in everything because so many other fish these days are contaminated with something or another, or are low in numbers… :(

    4. 4

      Michelle — January 15, 2013 @ 1:21 am

      My neti pot and I are best friends! It’s taken my obnoxious sinus/allergy problems to something normal.

      This soup looks like a perfect nourishing meal to soothe a cold or prop up an immune system. Delicious!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

        So glad to hear the neti pot has worked so well for you.

    5. 5

      Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts — January 15, 2013 @ 10:13 am

      What a terrific soup recipe, Winnie! I can’t believe that I have all the ingredients. Lucky me! Feeling fine, but still appreciate the recipe and the tips. I’m a big fan of sipping a warm concoction of ACV, water, honey, and a pinch of cayenne pepper or even sipping a hotter tea version of that brew. It really helps me when I have the scratchy throat and congestion. And I think that actually sleeping when I am ill is more healing to me than anything.

      Shirley

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

        Sleep = awesome!

    6. 6

      Linda S — January 15, 2013 @ 10:50 am

      Thx for this recipe – I will try it tonight. One of my home remedies I stumbled upon when I caught my 1st and hopefully last cold on Thanksgiving day is my homemade lemon-ginger tea. Add fresh-squeezed lemon chunks and freshly-grated ginger and 1/2 tsp of raw honey and boiling water to a cup and enjoy. It helps you sleep at night, soothes your throat, even kept my nasal passages clear and cut the duration of my cold down considerably. Try it! :)

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

        I will definitely try your lemon ginger tea!

    7. 7

      Smoky Sausage and Vegetable Soup — January 15, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

      [...] Coconut Milk Soup with Wild Salmon and Kale by Healthy Green Kitchen [...]

    8. 8

      Rebekah — January 15, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

      Could oyster sauce be used in place of fish sauce. I couldn’t find fish sauce, although I’ve never used oyster sauce before.

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

        I’ve never used oyster sauce before…I think it’s sweeter but I am not sure. You can just leave the fish sauce out…

    9. 9

      Eileen — January 15, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

      This soup sounds so good–aromatic, soothing, nourishing, and comforting all at once. Sounds like a perfect candidate when you’re feeling under the weather. :)

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

        I hope you give it a try!

    10. 10

      Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — January 15, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

      These are all great ideas Winnie! I’ll keep them in mind for the next time I’m feeling under the weather. And the soup looks fabulous, sick or not!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

        Thanks Amanda!

    11. 11

      Lynne — January 15, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

      I make a teapot full of hot ginger lemonade with cayenne pepper in it

      http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/22/dining/a-cupful-of-ginger-to-help-soothe-winter-s-ills.html

      and take it into bed and stay there while I drink it. My Dad always used to swear by a bandana wrapped around his throat, so I do that too, just in case!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

        Great ideas, Lynne!

    12. 12

      Art & Lemons — January 15, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

      I’ve been thinking a lot about flu prevention lately with the surge of it going around and everyone talking about it. Your tips are great and some are regulars in our house. This soup looks delicious, I might try it swapping out salmon for chickpeas and as for the lacto-fermented/cultured foods, I’ve got a vat of sauerkraut waiting in the fridge…

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

        Yeah, or maybe cooked tofu or tempeh instead of the salmon…? ps Yay for sauerkraut ;)

    13. 13

      Stacy — January 15, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

      Thank you for a great soothing winter soup recipe to help boost the immune system, Winnie. I love how you explain why you do certain things in recipes so people understand just why you promote bone broth combined with coconut milk–in this case, for the combined anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits . Also, thank you for the home remedies and the link for even more! I’m all about natural home remedies and really used several this past summer to fight through a terrible infection. They really worked!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

        Thanks Stacy for all aspects of this comment!

    14. 14

      Laura (Tutti Dolci) — January 16, 2013 @ 12:05 am

      Lovely soup, I hope you are feeling better!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

        Not completely out of the woods, but soon I hope ;)

    15. 15

      Abbie — January 16, 2013 @ 8:13 am

      This sounds so good I don’t think I will wait until I get sick (again – boo) to try it!!!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

        I know…I was just sick in September. So annoying!

    16. 16

      Nancy — January 16, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

      Thanks for sharing these great tips and recipe! We’ve been fighting off bugs the last couple of weeks and I’ve made a similar coconut soup with bone broth and lots of chiles, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and (like you) TONS of lime juice. Its healing powers are magical, and it’s always the first thing I crave when I’m run down or coming down with something. I’ll have to try this salmon version next time. Be well!

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

        Thank you Nancy!

    17. 17

      Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — January 16, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

      A nourishing soup like this is my go-to when I’m feeling under the weather as well. I’ve been making lots of homemade broth lately as well.

      • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

        I am obsessed with homemade stock! I ordered 2 turkeys for Thanksgiving this year just so I could make lots of stock :)

    18. 18

      Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily — January 16, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

      Oh NO! I sure hope you don’t get dragged into the pit of despair like I was. I was sicker than I have ever been in my life (turned into pnemonia) and I will NEVER ever take my healthy for granted again.

      Another thing I’m SO thankful for, home made soups like this one! Nothing makes me feel better than a wonderful home made soup. I can’t wait to try this one. I adore salmon.

    19. 19

      Stacy — January 16, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

      My pleasure, Winnie. Feel better soon! By the way…mentioned this post to Dianne Jacob via commenting on her blog. She had just provided food blog writing tips via video on how to “add value” to blog posts by not only providing recipes but also include helpful information and even a link for more helpful information. It is just what you did here and you are a shining example of exceptional blog writing. xoxo

    20. 20

      The Wimpy Vegetarian — January 17, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

      I’ve had this dreaded cold going around for 10 long days now and have been living on soups. I’m definitely looking into your remedies! Thanks so much Winnie! Hope you’re feeling better.

    21. 21

      CJ @ Morsels of Life — January 18, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

      This recipe looks like a perfect way to eat some salmon! I”ll have to give it a try. :)

    22. 22

      Kylie — January 22, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

      My 2 and 4 year old are having second bowls of this right now. It came together for such a quick and healthy lunch. To answer another poster’s question, I did use clam juice. I cut down on the chili peppers because 3 seemed like a lot for the kids.

    23. 23

      Tatyana Vroman — January 22, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

      I have made this soup tonight and it was amazing! I added fresh ginger and garlic in the end and made it thicker by doubling up on butternut squash and kale. It was a huge hit! Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

    24. 24

      Freckleface — January 25, 2013 @ 9:37 am

      This soup was amazing. I made this soup last nite for my meat eating husband & me cause we both felt like we were getting sick. I added butternut squash, chinese noodles, & didn’t have lime, but used some lime/tomatillo salsa that I had in the fridge & light coconut milk I had on hand. It was one of the best & easiest soups ever. He loved it too! I swear I feel better today. I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!!

    25. 25

      Linda — January 26, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

      Your delicious soup nipped my sore throat in the bud–and was so delicious! I’ve made it twice so far and each time added chopped garlic and the greens that I had on hand (collards the first time and bok choi the second)–both were fantastic. I could feel it going right to work. Many thanks for the wonderful recipe and great tips.

      P.S. Hope you’re on your way to feeling better soon.

    26. 26

      Kelly — February 7, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

      This was delicious. So, simple yet nourishing. Thank you for sharing this with me (and everyone). Oh, I used parsley instead of cilantro because that is what I had lying around. And two instead of three serranos. My friends and I thought it was a great amount of heat, we enjoy heat every now then.

      • Winnie replied: — February 10th, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

        So glad you enjoyed the soup!

    27. 27

      emmmily — February 26, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

      this looks great. would you recommend leaving the skin on the salmon, or taking it off, or does it not matter? i have a salmon share from small scale seafoods, http://smallscalesseafoods.com/salmon-shares/, and the fish is amazing. I’m a little biased as it’s a friend’s business but it’s the best fish I’ve had… I’m sad cause I only have a couple of fillets left from my 25 lbs so I’m choosing my recipes carefully!

      • Winnie replied: — February 26th, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

        I leave the skin on :)

    28. 28

      Kim Beauchamp — February 26, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

      We’ve recently gone Paleo; well, my husband and I have, the kids are just along for the ride.
      I can’t seem to get enough coconut in my diet, especially since discovering that the things I ate it with were causing my reflux and not the coconut itself (yay!).
      Anyway, I just added this recipe to this week’s menu. Can’t wait to try it!
      Thanks, Winnie!

    29. 29

      Andrea — March 4, 2013 @ 10:34 am

      Beth – If your daughter is allergic to salmon, you could try arctic char. It has a similar flavor and texture to salmon, but it’s a totally different fish!

    30. 30

      Paisley — March 15, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

      I’m coming down with a cold and I’ve just made this soup for my lunch. It was delicious and I’m hoping the chilli will help clear my sinuses.
      Healthy or sick, I’ll be making this again. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    31. 31

      Amy — March 16, 2013 @ 10:54 am

      Hi Winnie.. thanks so much for posting this! I made it last night.. but substituted tilapia for the salmon (that’s what I had on hand). It came out amazing. I am doing a whole30 and find that soup is perfect to keep in the fridge for when I really don’t feel like cooking. But this literally took minimal effort! Will definitely make again.. Thanks!

    32. 32

      Donna Hartzog — June 5, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

      I used a big yam instead of squash. It breaks down and add a lovely taste and texture to the soup and its easier to peel lol

    33. 33

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    35. 35

      Scrumptious Seafood: A recipe for what ails you | Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society — June 26, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

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    36. 36

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    37. 37

      hivesallergy — July 22, 2013 @ 12:53 am

      Hello! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
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    38. 38

      Leanne — August 26, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

      Will this work if I put garbanzo beans and chorizo in it?

      Thanks.

      • Winnie replied: — August 26th, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

        Hi Leanne,
        Garbanzo beans…yes. Chorizo…hmmm…not sure I’d do that with the coconut milk, personally, but if you try it let me know!

    39. 39

      Leanne — August 26, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

      It is delicious with chorizo! Had it tonight.

      • Winnie replied: — August 26th, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

        Yay!

    40. 40

      Amanda — November 3, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

      Made this for lunch today and it was excellent! Only used about a 1/2 cup of coconut milk, and collards and potato instead of kale and sweet potato–all great subs! We also whisked in a bit of white miso and the end. Thanks so much for sharing!

    41. 41

      Alfonso Sarette — November 19, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

      Oh my you’ve managed to merge some of my favorite ingredients into a yummy bowl! Love kale and never thought to add salmon too. This is a recipe I will be trying soon! Thanks!

      Alfonso.