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I don’t know about you, but when it’s cold out and I’m wanting to warm up, I reach for my favorite immune-boosting soup recipes. There is something about sipping a warm cup of healthy home-made soup that makes me feel cozy and content.
You might be thinking, “Oh, making soup from scratch is too much trouble.” But it really isn’t hard, and it’s to your advantage to know what goes into your soup.
Home-made soup: Good for you and bring some to your sick neighbor!
Did you know there was actually some science behind the health benefits of soup? There have been a number of studies looking at various health biomarkers, which have concluded that soup has a positive effect on reducing upper respiratory cold symptoms as well as having protective immunity effects.
So the next time you have a friend or neighbor suffering from a cold, you know what you can bring them! Read about other nature immune boosting ways you can prevent and recover from the cold and flu here.
But I don’t need “soup” studies to tell me soup can be good for you. Because frankly, it’s all about the ingredients! Healthy spices and herbs, vegetables, sea veggies, seeds and other well-known health-boosting ingredients combine to provide both a delicious and nutritious meal…as well as providing many other significant health benefits from the individual ingredients.
Soups are a part of every culture’s diet. They can contain any food as an ingredient in their watery medium. The nature of water is yin and receptive – it takes the shape of its container. By eating foods that are water-saturated, you strengthen the fluids of your body. Very often the base for soups is something that needs or attracts water: salt, seaweeds, and miso are examples of strong foods that require more water in their metabolism than most other foods.
A note on canned soups
Canned soups can be full of things that aren’t healthy for you. Many are loaded with sodium and saturated fats. Some contain dairy, processed grains and other food allergens. And believe it or not, many contain sugar!
The very process of manufacturing and packaging canned soups can introduce toxins such as Bisphenol A (BPA) as well as reduce the overall nutrient levels.
If you do purchase canned soup, please read the labels carefully. There are BPA-free cans, even organic offerings, but many still contain a lot of sodium or other ingredients I’d rather stay clear of. And most have been processed at high heat.
So today I want to talk a bit about the benefits of making your own soup, and I’ll even include one of my own favorite winter recipes.
I make “living soups”
I make many of my soups from uncooked, plant-based foods. Why? Unfortunately, if you cook the veggies beforehand or heat the soup above 118°F you destroy the enzymes, and many of the vitamins and phytochemicals, resulting in a meal that is less nutritionally beneficial. I call this making “living soups” as I want to protect all of the life-giving properties of the ingredients. Living soups can be comfortably heated to 110°F and still maintain their aliveness. And, while 110°F may not seem very hot, compared to boiling at 212°F, 110°F does, indeed, feel hot to the touch.
Soups can be heated in a saucepan on the stove, as long as the temperature is monitored and the soup is removed from the heat when it reaches 110°F. There are several digital cooking thermometers with extension probes that can be set to a temperature limit.
Another favorite quick soup idea that comes very close to retaining all the nutrients in the raw ingredients is what I call my “Big Bowl”. Steam a bunch of vegetables – my favorites are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and zucchini. Lightly steam, then blend with the steam water. The water contains many of the nutrients that are leached out during steaming. Season with favorite spices and a fat like avocado, coconut butter, tahini, any raw nut butter, or whole raw nuts and seeds.
The fat in these foods makes the soup very creamy. You can also use coconut or flax oil for the fat if you prefer.
What are the health benefits of home-made “living” soup?
Again, it depends on what you put in it! But I love to use fresh and organic ingredients such as:
- Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous veggies
- Sea vegetables
- Fresh herbs and spices that have well-known health benefits
- Seeds and nuts to get your Omega 3s
- Dried reconstituted medicinal mushrooms.
- Healthy oils – no vegetable oils here! A few favorite “go to” oils are flax oil and coconut oil/butter
- Dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO
- Whole unrefined salt…I like Himalayan or Celtic salt
- Natural sweeteners if I use them, such as luo han or stevia
My home-made soups are mineral- and vitamin-rich and high in fiber.
Spices and herbs can be supportive of immune health. Onions and garlic are incredible at this, as both contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant. Some spices are also really helpful – especially during holiday overeating missteps – in supporting your digestive health.
I love using kelp in soups (and other dishes). It is anti-inflammatory and incredibly rich in nutrients and phytochemicals. Kelp provides lots of magnesium and other minerals; also chlorophyll and fiber. Read all about the many health benefits of kelp in this earlier post.
I also love adding either fresh or dried reconstituted medicinal mushrooms. My favorites are shiitake or maitake. Maitake is very tender and mild tasting.
Of course I use a lot of cruciferous veggies and leafy greens. You can download a few informative e-books – both free – on both the health benefits of greens and sea vegetables here. Greens are so healthy for your immune system and digestive system. They are high in protein (spinach is 48% protein) and other minerals, and high in antioxidants.
Here is one delicious immune boosting vegetable soup recipe
- 1 head broccoli
- 1/2 cup green beans
- 1/3 head of green cabbage
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cup arame sea vegetable
- 1 teaspoon powdered kelp
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, ground
- 1 tablespoon flax oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Process cut cabbage into thin strips, chop onion finely, and break broccoli into small florets. Cut celery into 1 inch pieces and mince in food processor.
- Put celery into a large bowl with arugula.
- Sprinkle salt over arugula and celery, and massage until wilted.
- Put water in pot and steam broccoli, onion, green beans and cabbage until just tender. Add steamed vegetables to bowl with arugula and celery.
- Pour steam water over vegetables.
- Add arame, kelp, garlic, Italian seasoning, sesame and hemp seeds, and flax oil, and stir well.
- Add extra salt or seasonings, if desired. Stir and enjoy!
- Add a pinch of cayenne (optional).
If you would like to have more of my recipes, you will want to look at my soup book. Nourish yourself to the core with Quick & Easy Hearty Soups made from fresh, whole, and living plant foods. With these quick and easy recipes you can have a home-made meal on the table more quickly than a trip to the drive-through. This booklet contains 11 easy to make live food soups that warm and nourish.
If you want even more soup, sandwich, and dessert recipes, my Sweet Spot Solution Recipe Collection contains over 250 blood sugar-friendly, fresh whole food recipes that you can mix and match in endless combinations. With countless options for every meal, all the recipes you’ll find are delicious and nutritious. This recipe collection is a part of my Sweet Spot Solution blood sugar balancing program. The fork is more powerful than any pill bottle. You’ll discover how to tweak your diet for your “blood sugar” triggers. We’ll give you a delicious, personalized meal plan along with a list of therapeutic herbs that will help permanently reverse insulin resistance.
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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Disclosure: Sometimes (but not always), when I share resources in my programs, newsletter, and on my website, I'm using an affiliate link, which means I do make money if you buy. My credibility is extremely important to me; therefore, I only endorse the products, services, and people I believe in. DrRitamarie.com is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.