Spring may have sprung but I’m still treating plenty of colds and flu in clinic and recently spent a week in bed myself with a flu. I recuperated quickly though as I received some acupuncture treatments and was fortunate to have my partner and my sister cook me up some wonderfully nourishing soups.

Soups are easy to digest and if they contain a whole grain for energy, lots of lovely vegetables for vitamins and some legumes for protein then you have a complete meal that will give you the energy you need to get well quickly.

This is a great soup for enhancing your immune system and strengthening your body. It has been adapted from a wonderful cook book called Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen.


3/4 cup job’s tears barley (yi yi ren)
3.5 cups spring water
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 medium sized onion, cut into 1cm pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 medium sized celery stalks, cut into 1cm pieces
1 cup cooked adzuki beans, kidney beans or black beans (or a 400g can of organic beans, drained)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup stock
1 leek well washed and cut into 1cm slices
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
sea salt and pepper to taste
A handful of rocket roughly chopped (approx 1/4 cup)


  • Combine the barley, water and a pinch of sea salt in a large pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook uncovered at a gentle simmer for about 30 min
  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until golden brown.
  • Add the celery, beans, thyme and stock to the pan. Cook, covered, for 15 min. Gently stir the beans against the side of the pan to break them open. Add water if the mix is getting too dry.
  • Add the bean mix to the pot of barley, along with the leaks and peas and season with salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for another 15 min or so, until the barley is soft.
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of rocket and get well soon

Beans & Peas (Legumes) – are a great source of protein and when combined with a grain such as barley will give you a complete protein providing the nine essential amino acids your body needs.
If starting with dried beans, measure out 1/3 cup, then soak them overnight. Drain and place them in a pot with about 1 cup water. Cover the pot, boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.

Adzuki beans (chi xiao dou) are your bean of choice if you are full of phlegm or have a drippy nose as they will help dry up the damp. They will cook in about 45min.

Kidney bean or Black beans are a great option if you are feeling exhausted as they are beneficial for nourishing your adrenal or kidney energy. They may require about 1.5hrs to cook well.

Job’s tears barley (yi yi ren) has slightly different properties to European barley so try and get some from your local Asian supermarket. You’ll recognise them as they are rounder and fatter than European barley. Job’s tears barley is a cooling food that is great for draining dampness from your body whether it’s a drippy nose or fluid retention. If you can’t find any then European barley will still nourish you.

Onions, Leeks & Garlic (da suan) are all pungent in flavour so they help nourish your lung’s role of dispersing and descending energy throughout your body. This function gets disrupted by colds and flu which is one reason why you may end up with a cough. They are also high in vitamin C, and garlic is potentially a powerful antibiotic.

Celery is another vegetable high in vitamin C

Thyme (bai li xiang) has a strong antimicrobial action. 

Rocket (zi ma cai) – has neutral to cooling properties, stimulates the appetite and is also high in vitamin C.

Now you can see why this soup is particularly good when you are feeling under the weather.

If you would like to find out more about using food as medicine have a look at these great workshops

If you feel you would like help supporting your immunity then book an appointment today as acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help.

Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Qigong and Wholefood counselling). Tania is an AHPRA registered practitioner of Chinese Medicine located in Katoomba, NSW and has spent 6 years lecturing at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.

The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Remember that you are responsible for your own health and safety at all times.