Taking Stock: Sze's Magic Mineral Broth (AKA Antivirus Soup)

Sometimes even smart people make stupid mistakes, like opening a link you should have trashed immediately. Some days your health is failing. Some days, it can be worse than that. When you're in need of healing - either emotionally, or physically - making a giant pot of this "Magic Mineral Broth" is just what the doctor ordered.

My friend Maggie calls good, homemade food "food that hugs you back" - I think this soup fits the bill.

Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon.

These words of wisdom from a Japanese poet hang on my fridge as a reminder that even in our bleakest moments, we can find goodness, beauty.

We often find it difficult to forgive ourselves, even when we can forgive others. And by "we", I mean "me" of course. There's almost nothing I detest more than being reminded of my own imperfection. But why should that be so? If I were counseling a good friend, I would implore her to judge herself less harshly. Making mistakes only makes us human - what is the harm in that? Well the other day when I opened an email I should have known immediately to trash -- I felt like such an idiot! But I return, once again, to the healing power of food.

Let's try to start a new healthy habit. This is what New Years are all about, after all.

Let us try to judge ourselves less often, and less harshly; to look for ways to heal and nourish, rather than scold and disparage. When we make mistakes, let's learn from them, move through them, and put them in the rearview mirror. After all, you cannot jump those hurdles that are already behind you.

  • Trusted the wrong person? Okay. Remember trust is a good thing. Try to keep from shutting down.
  • Made a bad decision? Okay, don't make the same mistake again. Experience is the best teacher.
  • Clicked on a link in an email when you know better - let it create patience for the next time you are ready to scold your mother, or yourself, for doing so.
  • Got a seriously scary diagnosis? Learn what you can about healing and nourishing.

Yes. I did all of these things. And I've been through them with others.

Antivirus Soup - Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth

So here's the good news: no virus or malware detected from that link I shouldn't have clicked. And I now have two free apps  to help keep the Mac clean.

While I was running scans (and scans and scans) I made a giant batch of Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth. The vegetable stock is loaded with good vitamins and minerals, lots of flavor and umami. I discovered it, and Rebecca, when I was caring for my father-in-law Sze who was then just diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. We needed healthy food he could eat and tolerate while undergoing the harsh treatment.

He is now passed the five year mark and cancer-free. I shared the story at his 70th birthday of discovering Rebecca and all her help, going above and beyond for the panicked stranger on the line (me) asking for any and all help to fight this battle with Sze. She even found us cancer resources in Chinese. I got her book, One Bite at a Time, a special gift for those going through Chemotherapy and Radiation, full of delicious health-restoring foods.

And this magic broth is in my regular rotation. Make a batch when your computer is, ahem, otherwise occupied. Or when you've gotten bad news or had a rough day. Make it for a friend who's down or ill. Enjoy the soothing aromas wafting up from the stock pot. Enjoy a mug of the broth, as I did this recent day while repeating the mantra "never click on suspicious links."

Strain the stock, either simply through a colander or using cheesecloth if you want a really clear stock. Portion into freezer containers and large silicone ice cube trays (see below). Store some in fridge to enjoy in the week, then freeze the rest for future grains, soups, beans, sauces. Think of your magic mineral broth as a supply of nourish yourself goodness for the next time you need food that hugs you back.

vegetables soup

Sze's Magic Mineral Broth

A little faith, a little patience, the value of friends to learn from, gratitude for those who wish to learn from us, for those who accept our nourishment, our friendship, our forgiveness -- all from a humble pot of soup.


  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, white and green, trimmed, washed, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch of celery incl heart, washed trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 unpeeled sweet potatoes (some combo of garnet yam, Japanese sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes)
  • 5 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1  8" strip of Kombu
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 dried chiles
  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 qts water
  • Freezer scraps - mushroom, parsley stems, leek tops from the soup scrap freezer bag



  1. Scrub, rinse, chop all potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks
  2. Place, along with garlic and spices, in a large 12 Qt stock pot, with water to cover, up to two inches from rim of pot.
  3. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer, uncovered at least two hours. Check water level and keep vegetables covered.
  4. Broth will develop deep caramel color and rich aroma.
  5. Strain then season lightly with salt and pepper. Let cool then refrigerate (5-7 days) and freeze (4 months) to use as needed.


But first, enjoy a steaming mug of magic, antivirus soup.

soup collage


Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup, Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don’t forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series