You've probably heard that souping is the new juicing. But in cold weather, a warm bowl of soup feels more like comfort food than a "cleanse." And that's exactly the point.
"Soup is soul food," says Elina Fuhrman, author of Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life (Da Capo Press, February 2016). "Soup is what our moms gave us when we didn’t feel well; soup is what we want when we need to be nourished. A bowl of soup will make you full but also loved, calm, and happy. You have to take time to enjoy a bowl of soup, and that leads not only to healthy digestion but to a leaner body, healthier mind, and less stress. Souping also warms your body, especially if you [are of the Vata dosha] like me. Plus, in the winter we need warm, hearty foods, because we feel hungrier when it’s cold outside."
Fuhrman, a former CNN International war journalist who used her own organic, vegan soup recipes as part of her successful effort to battle breast cancer in 2009, launched the Soupelina (soup+Elina) brand in 2013. Now, in Soupelina's Soup Cleanse, she presents her internationally inspired and humorously titled soup recipes like Lentil Me Entertain You, Kale-ifornia Dreamin', Cure for the Common Kohlrabi, and Mi-So Healthy. We caught up with Fuhrman to learn more about her passion for souping (it's contagious), how to do a soup cleanse (yes, you will have soup for breakfast), and her Kundalini yoga practice. Plus, read on for Fuhrman's Magic Turmeric Broth recipe, which is perfect for fighting fevers, infections, and other winter ailments.
Q&A with Soupelina Founder Elina Fuhrman
YJ: Why is souping better than juicing?
Fuhrman: Juicing for more than a day slows down your metabolism. There is no fiber in juice and the body doesn’t have to work to digest anything. And while it’s good to give [your body] a rest for a day, I would caution against juicing for longer. Moreover, many people juice with fruit-loaded juices. You don’t feel hungry when you are souping, so you are less likely to binge when the cleanse is over and actually enjoy the results.
YJ: What does the cleanse entail?
Fuhrman: The Soupelina Cleanse has five soups per day: three hearty soups for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus two broths for a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. The length of the cleanse depends on your goals. If you just want to break free from crappy or restaurant foods and give your body a break, do a one-day cleanse. If you want to give your tummy a break from indulgences, kick-start healthy habits, strengthen your digestion and cellular metabolism, get rid of bloating, headaches, and fatigue, then do a 3-day or a 5-day cleanse ... you will get rid of environmental toxins, reduce your cholesterol levels, and achieve normal blood pressure levels. The fiber-rich cleanse will also increase your spiritual energy and you will feel lighter, happier, and more alive.
YJ: Soup for breakfast. Really?
Fuhrman: That used to be me, before I started souping. I would totally have the same reaction. These days, it’s one of my favorite things in the world. There’s something soothing, comforting, and calming about soup first thing in the morning. You feel like someone just gave you a hug. It feels that good! And when it comes to nutritional value, it’s off the charts. My favorite breakfast soups are I Can’t Believe It’s Butternut and The Fennel Hurrah. My older daughter, Madeline, loves Kale-ifornia Dreamin’ for breakfast; my younger, Isabelle, craves Follow the Yellow Spice Road. There are so many choices!
YJ: Why is "brothing" a key part of souping?
Fuhrman: Broths are so wonderful! I love the fact that something so simple can be so powerful for your body. Not all broths are created equal though. Soupelina broths are made from first-quality ingredients, some of them fermented, soaked, and sprouted ... They are loaded with minerals, nutrients, and enzymes, and are perfect for a nutrient-rich "pick me up” during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon slump. I ask my “soupies” to load their broths with fresh herbs, sprouts, sesame seeds, or veggies for that extra oomph.
YJ:What about when you’ve finished the cleanse? How do you incorporate soups into your regular diet/lifestyle?
Fuhrman: Soups are easy, filling, and nutritious. They really should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle. I eat soup at least 5 times per week. It’s good for your gut and the gut is what determines our physical and mental health.
YJ:What are the key ingredients that make your soups so healthy and why? Which ingredients do you avoid and why?
Fuhrman: What makes Soupelina soups unlike any other soups are their unique combinations of veggies, spices, herbs, mushrooms, and legumes, selected for particular nutritional benefits. Each soup is really a lip-smacking delicious natural supplement that helps you heal. What can be better than that? I don’t use GMOs, soy, sugar, nuts, gluten, or even fruits ... the soups are pure and super healthy. I don’t believe in adding anything unnatural to my soups -- why mask the goodness of perfectly wonderful organic veggies with table salt, sugar (even if it’s fruit sugar), or preservatives? The reason for no nuts is because nuts are hard on digestion and if you are cleansing, why go nuts? Fruits are loaded with sugar and if you follow food combining, they are best eaten alone. I also use Himalayan Pink Salt and Black Lava Salt in my soups to help alkalize the body, increase hydration, and strengthen bones.
See also 21-Day Vegan Challenge
YJ:How are Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga integral to souping?
Fuhrman: Soups have been a big part of Ayurveda for centuries and there is a reason for that. Depending on ingredients, they are easy to digest, they balance your doshas, and they are soothing. The Soupelina Soup Cleanse is a time for your body to relax and nourish itself, and what better way to take care of your body than to quiet your mind. If this is your first cleanse, your body is still not sure that you are trying to get healthy and needs help. That’s where meditation and yoga come in. Meditation teaches us to be present and that relaxes our body and mind. I like to practice mindfulness meditation when I eat soup. I have several meditations in the book that can help during the cleanse, like my favorite "Silence Meditation." When it comes to yoga, I’m a big fan of Kundalini, mainly because of the breath work. Breathing is so important, especially while cleansing … it creates a sense of calm in your mind and body, opens your mind, and aids you in your journey to health.
YJ: Tell us more about how you helped cure yourself of breast cancer with your soups.
Fuhrman: I combined certain Western methods and integrated plant-based nutrition, Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Kundalini Yoga, and meditation into my own treatment plan that I designed for myself. I turned down chemotherapy because I knew that it would destroy my immune system ... and what I needed to heal was to boost my immune system. Plant-based diet and soups became my magic medicine as I defied the odds and genetic tests.
YJ: Why is the Magic Turmeric Broth perfect for this time of year, for fighting off fevers, infections, etc.?
Fuhrman: When I discovered turmeric in 2009, you couldn’t buy it many places, especially the raw root. Now we all know how wonderful turmeric is ... it is so cleansing that in Ayurveda, it is actually prescribed by doctors. Turmeric's amazing digestive properties heal your gut, help with fevers and infections, and it’s one of the best preventative remedies. Magic Turmeric Broth is an incredible immune booster and anti-inflammatory aid, and [according to] the latest research, has major anti-cancer properties. In my broth, I marry it with coconut oil, another natural wonder; garlic, a known cancer fighter; and cleansing ginger.
See also Q+A: How Can Turmeric Help Me Heal?
Recipe: Magic Turmeric Broth
• 4 medium-size carrots, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise
• 4 fresh thyme sprigs
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting
• Himalayan Pink Salt
• 1 shallot, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
• 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
• 4 threads saffron
• 8 cups spring water
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Fresh thyme, sprouts, or sesame seeds, for garnish
+ Preheat the oven to 375°F.
+ Arrange the carrots on a baking sheet and toss with half the thyme, a drizzle olive oil, and salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, until browned in spots and soft.
+ Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat, add the shallot, and sauté until translucent and soft, around 3 minutes.
+ Add the garlic, ginger, and the rest of thyme. Stir until the mix is fragrant, then add the turmeric.
+ Continue stirring until the mixture becomes pasty, about 3 minutes. Add more coconut oil if it becomes too dry.
+ Add the roasted carrots and saffron to the mixture, then the spring water, and gently simmer the broth for about 2 hours.
+ Turn off the heat. Leave on the stove for another hour to absorb the flavors.
+ Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
+ Strain the broth.
+ Garnish with fresh thyme, sprouts, or sesame seeds.
From Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life by Elina Fuhrman. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Press.