Why Soup Is More Than Just A Great Winter Meal (Plus 8 Soup Recipes To Try!)
Whether you’re coming in from the cold or recovering from a cold, nothing is said to be as comforting as Mom’s chicken soup recipe. Indeed, at Body Ecology we feel that a bowl of soup made with a variety of nourishing vegetables and a great stock, plus some fermented foods to aid in digestion, can be one of the most healing and fortifying meals, especially in winter.
It’s not just food for your soul
Ancient cultures have long used soups and broths as home remedies for colds and flu, and even scientific data shows that soup has benefits.
In Korea, mineral- and nutrient-rich seaweed is a common addition to soup. The bioactive compounds in seaweed — polysaccharides, polyphenols, and sterols — contain powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidiabetic, and anticoagulant properties.
And for thousands of years, people in Sri Lanka have sipped on “lunukanda,” an ancient herbal soup. The active compounds in the herbs and spices have many of the same properties as seaweed, while also being antibacterial and antiviral to boost the immune system.
- Chicken soup contains an amino acid closely resembling a pharmacological agent called acetylcysteine, often prescribed for bronchitis. It’s available under the trade names Mucomyst, Fluimucil, and Parvolex. You can also buy acetylcysteine in health food stores or online as N-acetylcysteine.
- Traditional ingredients in soup, like garlic and pepper, may work as natural decongestants — they help thin out mucus and ease breathing. Note that we do not use black pepper on the Body Ecology program since it’s said to be irritating to the gallbladder, but we do recommend cayenne pepper.
- Tests have shown that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases like cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
- Drinking hot soup and breathing in the steam may help decongest the respiratory system.
Whether or not you feel under the weather, soup is an excellent meal during the winter months when your body needs more warming food. Soup is a wonderful hydrator and gives your body much-needed liquid. On top of all that, soup is easy to digest, making it a great way to get valuable nutrients.
Why not have soup for breakfast?
Though we Americans are accustomed to cereal and milk or bacon and eggs, soup makes a delicious, nourishing breakfast.
Many other cultures traditionally eat soup for breakfast, especially in Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia. In China, the children are sent off to school after eating a bowl of soup made with rice grains. Japanese kids do the same but sip their soup made with an ocean vegetable broth and fermented miso paste.
What people in these cultures know is that in the morning, warming broths are a great way to “break the fast” after 8-12 hours without food or liquids. Having warm soup in the morning helps stimulate digestion, igniting your “digestive fire” and preparing your digestive tract for later meals.
However, as these countries have undergone developmental changes and become more prosperous, the prevalence of chronic degenerative diseases has increased. Studies link this trend with more westernized eating practices that include increased fat, protein, and refined carbohydrates — particularly at breakfast.
How to get creative with homemade soup
Try these ideas the next time you crave a warm, nourishing soup — for breakfast or any meal:
- Clean-out-your-fridge veggie soup – Use leftover vegetables for a hearty, mineral-rich soup.
- Grain soup – Add Body Ecology grain-like seeds to your soup for a filling meal.
- Protein soup – Prepare a protein-based soup (chicken, fish, or red meat) and combine it with non-starchy vegetables (think leafy greens and celery, not potatoes and carrots).
- Puréed soup – You can puree any soup to give it a creamy texture and a new look. Kids will never balk at eating their veggies again because they won’t know they’re eating them!
- Quick fish broth – Dried fish flakes, also called bonito flakes, can be purchased from your health food store and can be simmered for 10 minutes, then removed, to make a quick and nourishing animal-based broth. The Japanese do this and also simmer a piece of the sea vegetable kombu. It’s one of the most nourishing broths you can prepare, and it’s fast.
While you’re waiting for your Body Ecology Living Cookbook to arrive, check out some of these delicious soup recipes from the book:
Vegetable noodle soup — Made with shitake mushrooms rich in immune-boosting beta-glucans and Miracle Noodles for a high-fiber, gluten-free indulgence.
Gingery acorn squash soup — Ginger is an amazing ingredient to start your day with. It jumpstarts your metabolism, soothes the digestive tract, and can help regulate blood sugar.
Broccoli with fresh fennel soup — Fennel is an excellent digestive aid. Use the tops in this soup and save the bulb for later in another vegetable soup or fresh salad.
Raw cucumber and watercress soup — Save this recipe for the summer months when you want a cooling and refreshing soup.
English pea soup and sea bass soup — Enjoy two different and delicious soup recipes on this page — one vegan and one with a hearty animal protein.
Creamy salmon soup with greens – This recipe uses canned salmon with the bones for an extra dose of calcium and minerals.
Basil veggie stew — If you like creamy potatoes in your soup, try this warming veggie stew with basil and zucchini. Remember for proper food combining, please don’t add animal protein to a soup with starchy vegetables, like potatoes. Daikon makes a great substitute for the potatoes….it’s great in chicken soup, for example.
Tips for making animal-based broth
A note from Donna: I’ve noticed that many people do not do well on the cooked fat in homemade soup stocks made from animals like poultry and meats. Cooked fats are much harder to digest than raw fat, and many people simply do not digest fats, especially today.
To solve this problem, prepare your homemade stock according to the recipe, then put your finished stock into the refrigerator for several hours until it cools. A layer of fat will form at the top of the jar or bowl. Skim this off and discard. You’re ready to enjoy the rest of the broth. The gelatin is excellent for you — it’s full of wonderful minerals.