Immunity Boosting Stew
I’d rather not fill a prescription at the pharmacy, and it’s not just because of the crowds in line. The first seasonal colds and viruses circulating through my community, and more recently in my own body, remind me of the value of a good homemade “medicine.” It’s a boost to our immune systems when we eat whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, especially foods that deliver a great Rx of anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll take a bowl of soup or stew over a dose of NyQuil anyday!
You probably already have your favorite recipes for bone broths or chicken soup to nurse a cold or ward one off, so this recipe is a plant-based alternative that counts on shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, lima beans, and kale to deliver a healing elixir.
Green and Gold Stew (Makes 2.5 quarts, or 6 hearty servings)
stems from wild mushrooms to make mushroom stock
extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms or other wild mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
5 cups butternut squash, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 bay leaf
8 cups homemade mushroom stock
6 cups thinly sliced Lacinato kale (leaves from a small bunch)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean the mushrooms one by one with a damp paper towel and cut off their stems. Place the mushroom stems in a medium saucepan with 8 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer while you prepare the rest of the stew. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl and set aside while you cook the mushrooms. Add a slick of oil to the hot pot and toss in about half of the mushrooms, cooking and stirring occasionally until they begin to brown. Add the browned mushrooms to the onion mixture and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. When all of the mushrooms have been browned, return the onion and mushrooms to the pot and add the squash, lima beans, and bay leaf. Remove the mushroom stock from the heat and strain it through a sieve into the bowl that held the onions and mushrooms. Discard the stems. Pour the stock over the stew vegetables and bring everything to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Season with a few big grinds of black pepper. Cook 40-50 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the ribbons of kale, stirring to combine. Cook 5 minutes longer until the kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.