“Garlic!” is my mantra when anyone in my house thinks she or he has a cold coming on. I consider it nature’s cold medicine, and it’s effect is truly magical. If you feel like you’re getting sick, garlic can often keep the cold coming to fruition. At a minimum, it alleviates symptoms and helps the cold go away faster. (Years ago, someone at my office was complaining about a persistent cough. For weeks, I told him “garlic.” One day, he actually tried it, and he started getting better the very next day!)

I first learned of this remedy from Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen, coauthors of my one of my favorite health reference books, Secret Food Cures. Some of the home remedies are a bit wacky, but I love that I generally have the ingredients on hand (and harmless if it doesn’t work).

In Secret Food Cures, Joan and Lydia recommend making “garlic tea,” where you chop up a clove of garlic, steep it in hot water for a three to five minutes and add a bit of honey to help the medicine go down. My children have grudgingly done this because they know that the garlic really helps but they do not like the taste, which I honestly think isn’t bad.

I created this recipe to deliver the garlic in a tastier (VERY tasty!) way. Plus, I throw in a bunch of other immune boosters for good measure—ginger, mushrooms, onions and cabbage (nutritious and noodle-like). Now I don’t have to coerce them into taking their “cold medicine.” They ask for it and even when they’re not sick!

Ingredients:

4 cups water
4 Tablespoons miso paste (whatever variety you prefer)
4 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 package mushrooms (eight to 10 ounces), thinly sliced
1 onion, minced
1½ cups thinly shredded cabbage

Directions:

  1. Put water and miso paste into a pot on low (3 out of 10) heat. Using a whisk, stir until paste is completely dissolved.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, mushrooms and onions. Bring to low boil, then simmer about 10 minutes
  3. Add cabbage, and simmer about five minutes more.

Make it a meal: If you want to turn this into a full meal, add in some diced tofu along with the cabbage, and serve with brown rice or noodles. (We like these gluten-free buckwheat noodles.)

Variation: This is also so tasty with chicken broth. The ginger gives it a Chinese wonton soup-type broth, although the miso paste is so much faster—I usually have a tub in the refrigerator, and I generally make my own chicken broths.

Quicker by the cup: If you want to whip this up really quickly for medicinal purposes, at a minimum you just need the miso paste, garlic and ginger. That will take less than five minutes. Boil one cup of water (or use instant hot)…dissolve miso paste in a small amount…add garlic and ginger…let steep three to five minutes.