Soup the ultimate soul food

Soup’s rich history of restoring physical wellness dates back over 800 years. We find out if a loving bowlful has still got what it takes in the medicinal stakes…

Soup as medicine – a potted history 
The restorative powers of soup can be traced back to the 12th century, when a Jewish theologian and physician called Maimonides prescribed a fowl broth as a cure for serious ailments, and even recommended it in his book, On the Cause of Symptoms, to ‘neutralize body constitution’.

The concoction appeared to work, and so soup’s status (chicken soup in particular) as go-to food for those feeling under the weather was cemented and still persists to this day.

Beating the chill on a budget
During the winter months, hot food is an essential when you’ve stood for an hour waiting for the bus, and soup is the ideal body (and soul) warmer. If it’s from a tin, it’s super quick, but can be overloaded with sodium… so opt for homemade if you can. If you’ve made it from scratch, freezing a few batches will keep you going for days. Either way, soup is cost-effective, especially if you’ve whipped it up using leftover meat or veggies.

Customise according to ailment
Soups are the perfect DIY prescription; handing you the reigns when it comes to what goes in and what stays out. For example, from November through to January, adding garlic to your soup can – so the story goes – provide defence against colds and flus. Low on energy? Bulk up your broth with protein-rich pulses.

Dish up your five-a-day 
Many delicious soups contain vegetables and therefore deliver an instant vitamin and nutrient hit, making it quick and easy for you to tick off one or two of your five-a-day. Broth-based soups are true winners (they are low in energy density i.e. low in calories but leave you feeling nice and full). Avoid calories and fat-laden creamy numbers if you can.

Soup up your winter
Check out these winter warmers from Good Housekeeping. Roasted Vegetable is our healthy favourite – there’s festive sherry in it, what’s not to love?