Acupuncturists love soup: locating recipes, classifying its effects, and recommending soups to our patients and loved ones.
Why soup? For starters, it’s easy to digest and virtually every culture in the world has a collection of soups aimed at improving your health. Here’s some more to think about…
1. Lose weight with soup
Obesity is on the rise throughout the industrialized world, resulting in a startling increase in the rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. (Maybe you’ve heard of the Karie Couric’s documentary Fed Up?) Research shows you can more easily count yourself *out* of these statistics if you eat a bowl of soup at least once a day.
Why? Nutritious low-salt soups can nourish you as they flush excess wastes from your body. It has been found that people who eat one serving of soup per day lose more weight than those who eat the same amount of calories, but don’t eat soup. Homemade soup is your best bet, because canned soups tend to be loaded with salt and chemicals.
My advice is to use local, organic vegetables whenever possible. Herbicides and pesticides in conventional produce can assault your immune system and overload it with toxins. Want to know which conventionally grown fruits and vegetable you can purchase without worrying out toxic chemicals? You can download lists of the most pesticide tainted produce — as well as the cleanest conventional produce too — here.
2. Build your immunity
Your immune system needs a lot of minerals to function properly and the typical Western diet does not always hit the mark. When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value of the foods. Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half of the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over a low heat.
Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes: cabbage, carrots, fresh ginger, onion, oregano, shiitake mushrooms (if dried, they must be soaked first), the seaweed of your choice, and any type of squash in chicken or vegetable stock. Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses the body. Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune system.
3. Detoxify your body
As a liquid, soup is already helping you flush waste from your body. When you choose detoxifying ingredients, such as the ones featured in the recipe below, you are really treating your body to an internal cleanse. The broth below boasts many benefits: it supports the liver in detoxification, increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and replenishes your body with essential minerals.
Super Detoxifying Broth
Simmer the following for 1–2 hours over a low flame: anise, brussels sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard, cilantro, collards, dandelion, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, mustard greens, daikon radish, seaweed, turmeric, and watercress. Drink 8 to 12 ounces twice a day. You can keep this broth in your fridge for up to one week; however, it is always best to serve soups when fresh because each day, the therapeutic value decreases.
In addition to using cleansing herbs in soups, you can take can supplements that support your body’s innate detoxification processes.
4. Warm up with a hearty soup
It’s best to eat for the season. Soups provide something the body craves in every season but especially damp, cool weather. When you cook foods into a soup, you are adding a lot of what Chinese nutrition would call “warming energy” into the food. Warming foods to feature in your soups include: leeks, onions, turnips, spinach, kale, broccoli, quinoa, yams, squash, garlic, scallions, and parsley. As a spice, turmeric aids with circulation, a great boost against the cold weather.
Keep checking our site for great recipes for the season!
5. Get well faster
As your mother may have instinctively known, when you are sick, there is no better healing food than soup. Soups and stews don’t require as much energy to digest, freeing your body up to fight the infection.
It would be impossible to talk about soup’s healing abilities without putting the spotlight on homemade chicken soup. Studies have found that chicken soup does seem to relieve the common cold by inhibiting inflammation — helping to break up congestion and ease the flow of nasal secretions.
And while chicken soup may not cure a cold outright, it does help alleviate some of the symptoms and can help as a preventative measure.
We even have vegetarian soup recipes in Chinese medicine to help you get over colds and boost your immunity!
Each Monday for 7 years, I taught at the New England School of Acupuncture. My work involved training 3rd & 4th year interns to practice Chinese medicine, emphasizing various tools of Chinese medicine like herbal formulas, food & nutrition. These interns were outstanding practitioners and it was a joy to watch them grow. More about 3rd & 4th Year Clinical Internships
Martha Oatis another one of my interns was a great cook, winning school-wide cook off competitions on a regular basis. She has offered us her well loved recipe for a very tasty soup.
White Bean and Parsnip Soup
1 tablespoon ghee
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 leek, cleaned thoroughly and thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh oregano
1 piece kombu seaweed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon or more minced garlic
8 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
4-5 small parsnips, cleaned and cut into large chunks
1 cup dry white navy beans, soaked overnight
1 bunch fresh parsley
Melt ghee and coconut oil over medium heat and add the leeks, sauteing until soft. Add oregano, kombu, bay leaf, ginger and garlic and mix so that all ingredients are well covered with oil (1 minute). Add the broth, parsnips and beans and bring to a simmer, cooking until the beans are fully cooked (about 40 minutes). Once the soup has cooled enough to transfer to a blender, puree in stages and transfer back into the soup pot. Warm on low heat, adding salt or shoyu/tamari to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!