Immune-Boosting Soup Recipe + an Instant Pot Version

Immune-Boosting Soup | Pamela Salzman


Immune-Boosting Soup | Pamela Salzman
Photography by Erica Hampton

I have been able to avoid conflict and controversy all these years on my blog and on social media, until I posted an image of this soup on Instagram a little over a year ago.  If you read my recent post on how to get well quickly, you know that I favor homemade broths, ginger, garlic and very digestible foods like soups and rice.  In my post how to boost the immune system, Japanese mushrooms are a top food. My assistant Lauren has two little boys who seem to catch every virus at pre-school and she suggested to me that I teach an “immune-boosting soup.”  Great idea!  So I did last January and in the recipe-testing phase I posted an image on Instagram.  Oh man!  I offended so many people by calling this an “Immune-Boosting Soup.”  To many, this is congee and I disrespected those who eat it by not labeling it as such.

Immune-Boosting Soup | Pamela Salzman

I have had congee many times before and what I know of it is that it is a thick porridge made of very well cooked white rice.  The rice is cooked in water or chicken broth for a long time so that the rice really breaks down and the porridge is like oatmeal.  If you google “congee” and look at the resulting images, the soup/porridge is very thick.  Honestly, I feel as though if I called this congee, just as many people would be offended that my rice soup wasn’t cooked long enough or wasn’t thick enough to be called congee.  If you are offended by this post, it is not my intention.  I’m just trying to help people make something for their families in the thick of cold and flu season that’s easy, tasty and digestible.

Immune-Boosting Soup | Pamela Salzman

This became a very popular recipe with my students because you can make it in 20 minutes, it’s delicious, and easy for digestion.  Remember that white rice is much more digestible than brown.  This soup intentionally has no fat or oil for maximum digestibility.  You can 100% do what you want with this recipe and I will not be offended. 😉  Feel free to add poached chicken at the end, cilantro, hot sauce, loads more garlic or ginger, even turmeric.  And I give you permission to eat this soup even if you’re not sick! xoxo

If you make this soup, please tag me on Instagram with an image of your creation! @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman

5.0 from 7 reviews
Immune-Boosting Soup + Instant Pot version*
Serves: 6
  • 6 Tablespoons (or ½ cup if you want more rice) white jasmine rice (you can use other types, but jasmine has the best flavor here)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (feel free to add more - I have added up to 8 cloves)
  • 1 ½ -inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into thin matchsticks**, about 2 Tablespoons
  • Sea salt to taste, according to saltiness of stock (start with ½ teaspoon)
  • 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth, preferably homemade (or mushroom stock for a vegan option)
  • 4 cups water (or use all broth)
  • pinch of crushed red pepper, if desired (or see ideas for optional add-ins)
  • 2-3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean and sliced (you can also use frozen mushrooms)
  • Ideas for optional add-ins:
  • Sliced red chiles
  • Chili oil
  • Sliced scallions (green and white parts)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Shredded, poached chicken or frozen green peas
  1. Place the rice, garlic, ginger, salt, broth and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  2. Add crushed red pepper (if using) and mushrooms. Raise heat to bring up to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until rice is super soft. Taste for seasoning. Add optional add-ins at this point and warm through. Serve hot.
*For the Instant Pot version, place all ingredients in the pot and cook on Manual High Pressure for 6 minutes. After the cooking time is up, use the manual release or natural release.
**If you don’t care to eat the ginger, slice it into rounds and remove from the soup before serving.