Immunity Soup

Immunity Soup Recipe

This soup is built on a monster white pepper broth. White pepper with jolts of ginger, and stabs of garlic. I like it just shy of scalding, racing down my throat, sweeping through my sinuses in one boisterous, fragrant swoop. This is a soup I make often, particularly when I need a boost. And, while I float other ingredients in the broth, mostly to make a meal of things, that part of the equation is usually an after thought. For me, this soup is all about the clear strong broth, the invigorating way it makes me feel, and the way it lights up my insides. This is a soup for the coldest days, the runniest noses, and the shortest days of winter.

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A couple words of wisdom here. Serve hot. As hot as you can stand without betraying your tongue. It's an experience that's just not the same when the soup is served lukewarm. On occasion, I'll whisk in a bit of brown or red miso for a fuller-bodied, creamier broth experience - also the beneficial miso nutrients. But, try it straight and clear first. -h


Immunity Soup

Treat the broth seasonally - if it's summer, toss some corn in. Late spring? Go for sliced asparagus. Also, for a more substantial meal, serve over brown rice or soba noodles. All tasty. Also, a mandolin makes quick work of all the slicing here, but watch those fingers! I like enoki or nameko mushrooms, black trumpets are good, and regular brown mushrooms do the job as well.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
8 medium garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated ginger, peeled
3/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, trimmed
8 ounces firm tofu, sliced into thin slabs
2 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

to serve: lots of chopped green onions, sliced watermelon radish, and/or pea shoots

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, and stir in the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and ginger. Gently sauté just until soft, you don't want any browning. Add a small splash of water if the pan drys out in the process. Stir in the white pepper and 10 cups of water. Dial up the heat to bring the broth to a simmer, and hold there for about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tofu, and salt, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir well, taste, and adjust with more salt or water if needed. Ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and top with lots of green onions, pea shoots, and a few watermelon radish slices. Add a finishing drizzle of olive oil, and enjoy!

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 15 min - Cook time: 20 min

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Your Comments

January 16, 2014

Lovely recipe! What kind of tofu is pictured here, specifically? Thanks!


January 16, 2014

What kind of tofu are you using in the photos? It looks almost like slabs of blue cheese to me.


January 16, 2014

This is simply a clean and pure way to experience such lovely vegetables. I can see way your soup would boost your immunity; all that ginger, clove and garlic have to keep the nasty illness away.

I love these style of chunky broths; they make you feel clean and I have one at least everyday. Perfect for the people with health resolutions.


January 16, 2014

Is there a particular reason that you recommend white pepper? I know black pepper has loads of nutritional benefits -- does white have more? Or do you just prefer its flavor?


January 16, 2014

What kind of tofu is that in photo, with the speckles and streaky spots? I'm guessing it's the tofu, or???


Denise | Chez Danisse
January 16, 2014



What a beautiful soup! I love all of the colours. It looks so pretty. I would never have thought of using that much pepper, does it have a strong kick?


January 16, 2014

Looks great! Curious about your tofu. It looks a little like blue cheese...Tell me more (please).


January 17, 2014

Perhaps the tofu is the sprouted tofu I have seen available in stores.


Averie @ Averie Cooks
January 17, 2014

I posed a soup 3 days ago called Immune Boosting Soup with similar ingredients! Mushrooms, green onion, ginger, carrots but I added some lemon, bok choy and turmeric so it's really golden! I love that sliced watermelon radish on yours. SO pretty! I would love a big mug of this!


Mmm this sounds so good!! Such a fun flavour!


Kelsey Smith
January 17, 2014

I am curious about the watermelon radishes. Can you please give me some more information? I have never seen them in any grocery stores.

HS: There's a chance you're overlooking them Kelsey - as they look like an ordinary white radish until you slice into them. Check your local farmers market as well - watermelon radish.


January 17, 2014

I am also curious about this marvelous looking tofu


Emma Galloway
January 17, 2014

I adore the flavour of white pepper and really need to use it more often than I do! Love the sound of this and I too am intrigued by your tofu!?


January 17, 2014

Hi all - a number of you are asking about the tofu. A local company makes a pepper-flecked tofu I like - the one that looks like blue cheese in the photo :)....It's what I had on hand, so I used it in the soup, but any good quality tofu will work well here. xo -h


Despite the lack of cold weather here in the SF Bay area I still find myself drawn to restorative broth soups...a fresh, light start to the New Year perhaps. I recently enjoyed a spicy ginger one and two nights ago we had a lovely chicken bouillon flavored with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds and of course peppercorns. This one will be on our dinner table next week. And those beautiful watermelon radishes...they add such a rosy glow to winter plates!


January 17, 2014

This soup looks stunning and just what the Dr order.. or rather what the Dr won't need to! Thank you.


January 17, 2014

Your photographs are breathtaking! The soup looks wonderful too. Since my family are purging the holiday excess right now, I think this broth would be a bright and bracing change. Thank you!


January 17, 2014

Just made a pot of this after a day of blowing my nose. Didn't have all veg ingreds and used miso and soba with avocado on top. Delish!


January 17, 2014

Where was this recipe when I needed it?! I'm still going to try it, although my flu has passed and even though I think white pepper smells like horse manure. Am I alone in this? Thx


Gail Carlson
January 17, 2014

Could a Beauty Radish work with this recipe?


phi @PrincessTofu
January 17, 2014

I love the name you've given this soup! I'd like to use it in a reality TV segment involving cook-offs...


January 17, 2014

Having just feasted with my eyes on this gorgeous bowl of soup, Heidi, I already feel healthier. Thank you.


January 17, 2014

I can almost feel this soup doing me good. Love all that garlic.


January 17, 2014

this looks delicious. i make something very similar this time of year but add a length of dried astragalus root, a few shiitake mushrooms and a pinch of turmeric powder to the simmering broth to promote lymph drainage and enhance immune function. the astragalus doesn't impact the flavor and can be discarded before eating. it packs quite an immune boosting punch.


January 17, 2014

I always love your photos! So simple and beautiful - I wish my kitchen was so pretty when making food! Great recipe, I'm going to make that this weekend.


liz b.
January 17, 2014

This recipe just came through my email and it was exactly what I didn't know I had been wanting for lunch today! I can't wait to try some seasonal versions of this soup. Thank you!


Jan Fanning
January 17, 2014

Would a good Vietnamese Pho soup--without the meat and with more veggies--be a similar type of soup? Is there a good recipe for Pho handy? This soup sounds gorgeous.


January 17, 2014

@gluttonforlife-- I totally know what you mean! I always tell my husband that it smells like sheep (really lanolin-y). It's a weird experience eating it. I tend to stick to black pepper. Heidi, have you tried it with black?

HS: I haven't - I kind of thing white pepper is key though. If you give it a go with black (perhaps lots of whole peppercorns?) - report back!


January 17, 2014

Hey! I seldom share on facebook, but this is such a wonderful recipe - has to be passed on :-) Thank you!


Dan from Platter Talk
January 17, 2014

Wonderful idea, this immunity soup. What's more, one form or another of it is always in season! Thanks for sharing this one.


David Crossfield
January 17, 2014

This will be dinner tomorrow night!!


January 17, 2014

Sounds delicious, my whole family could use some immunity with this flu going around our house. Thanks for sharing!


January 17, 2014

What a wonderful looking soup, perfect for the alkaline diet my husband is on.


January 17, 2014

Its funny, it looks refreshing and cool in the photo--put me at ease just looking at the bowl of goodness.


Perfect recipe for me right now, I have a cold that wont let go..


January 18, 2014

Made this last night for dinner. Warmed us up heads to toes. Perfect for a cold Maine winter night. Thank you Heidi for this beautiful recipe!


Kate in New York
January 18, 2014

This soup looks beautiful and sounds like just what I want right now. I love the idea of mixing raw radishes with cooked vegetables... the must give the soup a nice zip!


January 18, 2014

Made this last night for dinner. Warmed us up heads to toes. Perfect for a cold Maine winter night. Thank you Heidi for this beautiful recipe!


January 18, 2014

Six years I'm following you not just for what you make, but how you describe it.


January 19, 2014

I may be totally insane, but I am contemplating making this. I am in Australia and its around 43c/104F at the moment,......


Julie Kinnear
January 19, 2014

Oh, I've been searching for something just like this in recent days! I got cold and needed something to boost my immunity that wouldn't be ginger broth or garlic soup, or any of the usual recipes. And the pictures and the talk are awesome as usual, thank you very much for the post!


Lisa Cohen
January 19, 2014

That local tofu looks so interesting in this soup!! I wish I had something like that near me. Oh, how I love San Francisco. Thank you for the soup goodness, Heidi. It's so cold here in the DC area. I know this will warm me right up. xo


January 19, 2014

Your photographs are alway so beautiful and food so appetizing. Everything about this calls my name.

Is that tofu from hodo soy? (spelling?) I remember always seeing a black flecked tofu from them when I was living in the bay but I never picked it up.


January 19, 2014

This was delicious! Thanks for the recipe. I made it with white beans instead of tofu and it was great. Photo here:


January 19, 2014

Heidi, I'm allergic to mushrooms. What would you suggest to give the broth the depth that the mushrooms do?

HS: Hi Melissa - you could just take it in an entirely different direction altogether - skip the mushrooms, asparagus season is coming up, or shelled fava beans, thin slices of winter squash is nice.....


Andy | Food Smok'r
January 20, 2014

Lovely soup recipe for a cold rainy weather. Will definitely give this a try the next time I'm up for some soup! Thanks.


Shikha @ Shikha la mode
January 20, 2014

Perfect time to post this soup recipe - I feel that everyone is getting sick around me, and I'm terrified of catching something!


January 20, 2014

Might this freeze well (aside from the toppings)? This sounds like a truly perfect antidote for anything that ails you, but usually when I'm under the weather, the last thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen and slice a bunch of veggies.

HS: Hi Casey - I might make a big batch of the broth, and freeze that. And then chop whatever else I'd like in the soup while the broth is coming up to a simmer after thawing? Something like that.


January 20, 2014

So I just made this. It is really good! Thanks.


January 21, 2014

My son came home with a bit of a cold yesterday. I made this today in hopes of staying well. I used what I had on hand and adding a few ingredients to finish out my CSA box. I omitted celery, but stirred in a little celery salt and turmeric with the white pepper. I also added chopped red pepper to the onion mixture. I subbed chickpeas for tofu, and cauliflower for mushrooms. Added a little chopped kale and thinly sliced yellow squash. Daikon radish instead of watermelon, with the green onion and pea shoots. Delicious and invigorating!


January 21, 2014

Hi, I'm wondering where the "broth" part of this comes from as I don't see any liquid? thanks so much

HS: It's in there Laurie - just a bit hard to see (clear)...


January 22, 2014

Ooo looks yummy, I have full of cold at the moment and the fresh garlic smell and aroma I can imagine that the soup gives off would make me feel lots better. Defo have to try this recipe even if it's just for the smell lol. Thanks a bunch!


January 22, 2014

This soup is marvelous. I'm having a mug of it (leftover from last night) right now, and am certain it has and is curing all that ails every member of my family (from sniffles to homework aversion to sibling squabbling). Thank you!

HS: :)


January 23, 2014

So I made this last night...substituting meat removed from roasted organic chicken wings in place of tofu + added parsley as a topping in place of pea shoots...and it was fantastic. From the first tickle of the nose and throat to the last invigorating bite, we all {kids included} loved it! Thanks again!!


January 24, 2014

I used this as the inspiration for a chicken soup I threw into the slow cooker this morning - ginger, garlic, onion, celery, radish, a couple of chicken carcasses from the farmer's market and someone's suggestion of astragalus root - can't wait to get home and eat it! Going to throw in some kale and radish slices later, super excited!


January 24, 2014

What a beautiful soup. This looks like just the thing to quell the nasty cold that's been going around; that broth sounds wonderfully intense. Thank you for sharing!


January 24, 2014

LOVE the soup! I've been giving it to sick friends.


Kelly R
January 24, 2014

I love this soup! I sounds like a drink of summer. I have copied your recipe and made 2 notes to use 1 teaspoon of turmeric and to use Maitake Mushrooms.

Maitake Mushrooms are high in nutrients including Vitamins B-2, C, D, niacin, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and amino acids, naturally stimulates the immune system and lowers blood pressure, plus other benefits.

Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial properties and a natural a in killer.


Ewelina Bubanja
January 24, 2014

This looks like a really great recipe considering the weather outside! I will definitely give it a try this weekend as the temperature goes down as I write. At the beginning after looking at the pics I thought there is a blue cheese in there! To find out after reading the post it is tofu:) Do you reckon it would be crazy wild to use the blue cheese instead? Have you ever tried it?


Kelly Turnbull
January 24, 2014

This soup was fantastic. I made it with freshly cracked black pepper. Didn't have white on hand. It was wonderful. I'll be making it again. Thanks !

HS: Thanks for reporting back Kelly - I was curious about the black pepper swap - happy to hear it was a success. I think more people keep black pepper on hand, so it's nice they might be able to pull this together without a special run to the store for white pepper.


January 25, 2014

The local tofu looks incredible. Do you know if they ship their tofu?

HS: Hi Kellie - My guess is no :/


January 25, 2014

I made this soup for dinner tonight and I also used black pepper. Except for that substitution I made it as written and it was delightful. Certainly will keep this recipe close at hand. Thanks for sharing.


January 26, 2014

I wish I would have read this article before my entire family came down with a nasty cold. The ginger and pepper would have been perfect. The watermelon radish really makes quite the visual effect in the dish and photos.Thanks again!


Adena Harford
January 27, 2014

I really like how you create a spicy broth, but then minimally cook the rest of the veggies.


January 28, 2014

looks amazing. love anything ginger this time of year. can't wait to try. beautiful images.


January 28, 2014

Going to be making this tasty looking soup tonight. As someone who limits his soy intake, especially non-fermented, best to just leave out the tofu or is their a suggested substitute?


January 29, 2014

Going to be making this tasty looking soup tonight. As someone who limits his soy intake, especially non-fermented, best to just leave out the tofu or is their a suggested substitute?

HS: Hi Drew - you can certainly leave it out and swap in something that better fits your preferences!


February 7, 2014

This recipe is perfectly delicious just the way it is Heidi(served over brown rice) . While I reheated leftovers, I spurted cumin, curry leaves in sunflower oil and added to it and the taste was different, albeit very yummy.


February 9, 2014

Thank you for to delightful recipie. I've just returned home to HK, from a trip to chilly and windy Europe, feeling a cold brewing from the cold weather and 12 hours on flight with coughing passengers, ad this did the trick in allowing me to feel human again. I added rice noodles, kale and some poached chicken. Absolutely delightful.


February 12, 2014

My mandolin trick is to ditch the guard and wear a cut-resistant glove on my active hand.


Aqiyl Aniys
February 17, 2014

As a vegan I love this recipe. I will need to try to without the tofu though. I should still taste wonderful.


February 17, 2014

Made this for lunch on a snowy Wisconsin day. Used black pepper and ground ginger, omitted tofu, and added done egg noodles. Delicious!