Soup’s On!

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I don’t know what’s happening in your neck of the woods, but once September 21 turned to September 22, fall officially arrived in the Midwest.

Summer flowers fade while leaves begin to change color. Cooler temps mean trading in shorts and t-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts.

It also means swapping cold salads for hot soups!

The beauty of soup is that it’s one of the most versatile, inexpensive meals you can make. All you really need is a handful of ingredients, a pot, and a little imagination. Even if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, soup is simple to prepare and always appreciated on a chili day (pun intended).

Feed Your Face and Brain!

Soup not only warms your belly, but it may also have medicinal properties. Chicken soup, for example, contains collagen, a compound that’s part of skin structure and other connective tissues. One clinical study found that chicken soup eaten by human subjects increased skin elasticity and decreased facial pigmentation. 1

Various compounds in a traditional Chinese soup may have a protective effect against dementia. Appropriately named, “Smart soup” (SS) is a combination of Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii (AT), Poria cum Radix Pini (PRP) and Radix Polygalae (RP). While studies were done in mice, intake of SS reduced cognitive impairment and neuronal loss in mice with Alzheimer’s dementia. More studies are needed to evaluate the impact of SS in humans. 2

In the Pot

Soup is an excellent vehicle for vegetables. From mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery, and onion) to peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini, just about any vegetable can (and should) be added to soup. Adding vegetables not only brings color and texture to your soup, but a higher content of vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important nutrients and phytochemicals.

Using less-than-perfect produce is perfect for soup as well as stock. Chop the stalks of kale and sauté them like you would celery. This adds more fiber to your soup. Wilting spinach leaves or a slightly bruised tomato can be chopped and added to a white bean or lentil soup.

Speaking of beans, they make an excellent addition to any soup! After all, they're  inexpensive and provide protein, soluble fiber, B vitamins, iron, and zinc to your concoction. Lentils are another delicious option as they cook up quickly and can be seasoned with canned pumpkin and chipotle pepper or delicious Indian spices.

To make soups more filling, use barley, brown rice, or whole grain couscous in your soup. This boosts the fiber content and gives the soup a thicker consistency. These can be left out if you’re trying to limit carbohydrates.

Below are Some Add-Ins for Your Next Pot of Soup:

  • Dried basil, oregano, or rosemary with white bean soup
  • Chili powder, cumin, and oregano in black bean soup
  • Cinnamon, cumin, or nutmeg in pumpkin or sweet potato soup
  • Corn, chopped onions, and peppers in your red bean soup
  • Curry powder, garlic, and ginger in lentil soup
  • Chopped mushrooms, scallions, and ginger in Asian soups

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD


  1. Hoenig LJ. Chicken Soup for the Skin! Clin Dermatol. 2022 Sep 16:S0738-081X(22)00118-3. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2022.09.002. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36122880.
  2. Hou Y, Wang Y, Zhao J, Li X, Cui J, Ding J, Wang Y, Zeng X, Ling Y, Shen X, Chen S, Huang C, Pei G. Smart Soup, a traditional Chinese medicine formula, ameliorates amyloid pathology and related cognitive deficits. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 11;9(11):e111215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111215. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2020 Aug 3;15(8):e0237035. PMID: 25386946; PMCID: PMC4227681.

PDF Handout: 5 Ways to Elevate Soup

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