I’m fighting a cold. It’s the first one I’ve had all Winter. I’m winning at the moment but I don’t want things to deteriorate, so I must have an action plan.
I don’t have fancy supplements or expensive Super Foods like acai or blueberries but I do have an Allium Family Army made up of onions, shallots and garlic.
Onions may possibly be one of the healthiest foods on Earth. They contain quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus in your head and chest while boosting your immune system. When the smell of raw onions makes your nose run and your eyes tear up, this stimulates your immune system to fight infection.
Onions and garlic also contain allicin, which slows down and kills a variety of viruses and bacteria. The pungency of onions and garlic increase your blood circulation and make you sweat. This helps to prevent infections and allows you to sweat out a cold or flu. Consuming fresh raw white onion and garlic within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu is when you’ll get the strongest immune effect.
I’m not into eating a bunch of raw onions and garlic, nor would my husband like the smell on my breathe that much, but I’m quite happy to have a good cry whilst peeling them. When onions are cooked to make soup, their quercetin does not get degraded. It simply gets transferred into the liquid part of the soup. If you allow garlic and onions to simmer slowly in some home-made beef stock they become deliciously sweet and savoury. Here’s the recipe…
French onion soup
I like making my own stock from beef bones boiled in water and seasoned with salt, pepper and bay leaf. Alder’s Butchers on Cowley Road will sell you a huge bag for just £1 with the proceeds going to charity. However, if you prefer you can always buy pre-prepared stock.
Finely slice 4 large onions and 2 cloves of garlic. Place them in a heavy duty sauce pan with 50g of butter and 1/2 tsp of salt. Allow them to cook very gently, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes. During this time the onions with caramelise at the bottom of the pan. This is what give the sweet taste to the onion soup and should be encouraged, but do not allow them to burn. Once the onions are ready add in about 750ml of beef stock. Gently simmer again for another 30 minutes until everything is infused. If you have any leftover red wine, port or sherry this can also be added but it’s not necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a grating of strong cheese and crusty bread. Warming and nutritious!
This is easy on the budget
4 large onions = 40p
Beef stock = £1
Butter, sugar, salt pepper = 25p
cheese = 50p
Total = £2.15 for 4