Place all ingredients in a large (8-quart) stockpot. Add the optional ingredients for an extra immune boost. Cover with 4 quarts of water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 to 4 hours.
Allow to cool, then strain stock though a fine mesh strainer. Pour into glass jars. Stock will keep for one week in the fridge and 2 to 3 months in the freezer. (If freezing, use wide-mouth freezer-safe glass jars, and leave at least one inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion).
Serve warm as a broth or use as stock in your favorite soup recipes.
Kombu, an edible seaweed (member of the kelp family), high in iodine, is frequently used in Asia for broth. It adds flavor, nutrients, and minerals to food. The amino acids in kombu help to soften beans (protein) and make them more digestible.
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), cited for thousands of years as a tonic and “elixir of life” for only the ruling class and emperors in China, made its way into the pantries of common folk. Traditional and contemporary Chinese medicine admire it as a tonic benefiting vital energy or “Qi” and promoting longevity. In his book, Medicinal Mushrooms, Christopher Hobbs outlines pharmacological effects of whole reishi extracts to include: analgesic, antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral, hypotensive, anti-HIV, adaptogen, hepatoprotective, and immunomodulating. Reishi has also been shown to oxygenate the blood, making it a useful ally against altitude sickness.
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) have been prized in traditional Chinese medicine for over 6,000 years for their health-giving properties. High in potassium, calcium, phosphorous, proteins, and magnesium, shiitake mushrooms have been shown to enhance a person’s immune system and promote cardiovascular health by optimizing lipid levels.
Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a Spleen Qi Tonic (to bring energy, increase appetite, and improve digestion) and a Lung Qi Tonic (to build up a protective shield to ward off external influences and infections). It has been studied extensively for its effect on the immune system, and has been shown to reduce the occurrence of common respiratory illnesses, inhibit tumor growth, and strengthen the immune system.
Goji Berries are tart red berries with powerful antioxidants, as well as Vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and selenium.