Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark

Healing Soups

From grandmother with love (and phytonutrients): Now's the time to nourish your body with old-fashioned healing soups.

By Dayna Macy

"I grew up eating wild purslane soup," says Rosemary Gladstar, founder of the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, California, and author of Herbal Healing for Women. "My grandmother made it for us as a kind of all-over tonic. She cooked the purslane with other plants, like amaranth and chickweed, then added some onions and garlic. It was powerful medicine."

Gladstar's Armenian grandmother may have relied on intuition and observation to feed her family, but science eventually backed her up: Purslane is now known to be especially rich in vitamins A, B, C, and iron. It's also among the best plant sources for omega-3 fatty acids, the essential fats that may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and could increase the activity of white blood cells, which attack germs in the body. In general, purslane, which is not widely grown commercially in the United States, but can sometimes be found at Mexican produce stands or farmers' markets, acts as an immune-boosting supplement to any diet. Thanks to her grandmother, says Gladstone, 58, "I knew, even as a young girl, that plants could heal."

The truth is that long before researchers proved that certain plant foods contain the vitamins and phytonutrients that promote a healthy immune system, grandmothers (and other cooks) the world over figured out that some foods help bodies fight illness better than others. As a result, traditional foods and folk recipes often feature immune-boosting ingredients. Garlic, nature's best-known antibacterial food, shows up in soups from Spain to Thailand to Louisiana. Fermentation, which creates beneficial bacteria that support digestive health, is a technique that has brought about such foods as yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut (developed by the Chinese centuries before it was a German staple). My Russian grandmother favored borscht—a marriage of beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, and stock—so thick with brightly colored veggies that it could easily be called antioxidant soup.

And in my childhood home, the classic folk remedy, chicken soup—affectionately known as Jewish penicillin—was doled out at the first hint of a sniffle. Lo and behold, decades later a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska found that chicken soup may relieve the miseries of a cold—though not cure it. (It's interesting to note that the lead scientist conducted his initial research using a veggie-laden recipe handed down by none other than his wife's grandmother.) The study found that, whether it's homemade or canned, chicken soup helps inhibit the release of mucous. And the scientist jovially added that just knowing someone went to the trouble of cooking a pot of soup for you might make you feel better!

More and more, it seems, the scientists and the world's grandmothers are in agreement about the health-giving powers of certain foods. So to get ready for winter, I'm arming myself with research and anecdotes about healing soups filled with veggies, herbs, and spices that boost immune function. With two boys in germ-laden grade school and the first chilly days upon us, I can only do what any sensible grandmother would suggest: Make soup!

Page 1 2 3 4

Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark
Full Name
Address 1
Address 2
Zip Code:
Email (req):

Reader Comments

Add a Comment »

Your Name:


Stay Connected with Us!

Yoga Journal Live events
ep14 YJ LIVE! Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado
Sep 14-21, 2014
florida YJ LIVE! Florida
Hollywood, FL
Nov 13-17, 2014

More Events

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.
Learn More
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 4 FREE GIFTS
Your subscription includes
Yoga for Neck & Shoulders • Yoga Remedies
Yoga for Headaches • Calm, Cool, Collected
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Yoga Journal
and my 4 FREE downloadable Yoga Booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions