Is there anything more soul-nourishing and comforting than a bowl of piping hot soup? Okay, maybe getting a hug by someone you love, but I mean, foodwise? Yeah, didn’t think so.

As you’re about to learn, not only is soup delicious, it should also be a staple of your diet if you have any type of chronic illness.

So, why is soup so good for you? Let me count the ways…

1. First of all, the broth!

You might already know that broth made by slowly simmering bones has a lot of health benefits. The topic of bone broth alone is pretty extensive and it certainly deserves at least one blog post of its own—just type “healing bone broth” in your search engine if you need a quick introduction. My point for today is that soup is the perfect vehicle to introduce bone broth into your diet.

Bone broth will make your soup-making effortless because it alone adds amazing complexity and flavor. People always love my soups but if I prepared the exact same soup with water or commercial broth as the base, the result would simply not be the same magical potion that people can’t get enough of. I guess the title of this post should be ‘7 Reasons for People with Chronic Illness to Love Soup Made with Bone Broth.’

2. Vegetables get as cooked as necessary

Most people who suffer from chronic illness have a stressful relationship with vegetables. They know vegetables are good, but they fear how they might feel after eating certain ones. The reasons why some veggies might not digest well are varied and complex. There are also valid reasons to avoid certain vegetables at a given stage of recovery. At a more general level, cooked vegetables are simply easier to digest than raw ones because cooking helps break down the long chains of carbohydrates and complex fibers that vegetables contain.

So whereas you might not tolerate raw broccoli, cabbage or onion, for example, eating these sufficiently cooked in a nice bone broth might be just perfect for you. And as you grow in your recovery process, you can dial down the cooking as you become more tolerant and your digestion more robust.

3. Flexibility

If there is one challenge I constantly face with clients, it is finding appropriate recipes. Between the digestive issues invariable present on those with chronic illness and the restrictions of whatever elimination diet they might be following, I have come to realize that almost every client will need support to work out their own recipes.

Consider, for example, a couple of clients of mine, both whom worked their way through the GAPS diet. One of them was able to stick to the diet without much tweaking. The other one continued to develop diarrhea virtually any time that he ate any kind of fiber even several months after he started the diet. Eventually he was able to slowly start adding low-fiber vegetables. Such a person will need to adapt recipes constantly and soup is the absolute easiest meal to adapt.

4. No matter what kind of soup, it will freeze beautifully

This is another very important aspect for people using an elimination diet to recover from chronic illness. Since there might not be a lot of options to eat out, you need to plan your menus and learn how to cook in batches in order to make the diet sustainable over time. In this way you start to rely heavily on your freezer, and soup is the easiest thing to freeze and defrost.

There is also the issue of histamine intolerance. Histamines themselves are not bad—they’re actually an important chemical involved in immune function, digestion and the central nervous system. However, the body needs to detoxify itself of this chemical or it will build up and cause a host of issues such as headaches, anxiety, digestive upset and more. Aged foods including cheese, cured meats and even leftovers sitting in the fridge build up more histamines over time. And so, freezing batches of freshly made soup is a great option!

5. Soup is a powerhouse of nutrients

You can always be sure that a percentage of nutrients will be lost by the very process of raising the temperature of food, i.e. cooking. In the case of soup, however, a lot of those nutrients are transferred into the water during the cooking process, so there’s a lower loss of nutrients.

6. Soup is the best breakfast ever!

Another challenge people on elimination diets face is finding foods they can have for breakfast. Most “traditional” breakfasts contain gluten, dairy and/or eggs—foods that are usually removed in elimination diets.

However, this breakfast paradigm can be easily overwritten! In Colombia, where I am originally from, most people are happy to have a “caldo de costilla” (beef rib broth) for breakfast. It is delicious, nourishing and warming on cold mornings. I don’t eat breakfast per se as my first meal of the day—it’s more of an early lunch—but my body feels just great when I start my day with a big bowl of hearty soup.

7. Soup is inexpensive

It is the cheapest cuts of meat that make the best broths and soups. Chicken and turkey carcasses (don’t forget the feet!), fish heads, beef shanks and ribs, etc., all shine in the soup pot providing flavor and nutrients that get lost in other dishes.

The soup pot also welcomes those veggies that are a little past their prime—or ANY vegetables, really—and people who eat beans can make them more digestible and delicious in soups.

There you go! I hope I’ve spread my love for soup to you and that if you don’t yet make it, you try soon. To get you started, here’s a master recipe for chicken soup…

(Photo by noticiasdehugo)