4 reasons you should make soup for dinner tonight (+ 5 easy recipes!)

January 06, 2021 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Is there anything more satisfying than a steaming bowl of soup on a cold winter day? Especially when it’s filled with tender vegetables, hearty beans and warming herbs and spices, all swimming in a hearty broth. Pairing a soup or chili with your main dish salad is a classic Nutritarian matchup, so let’s look at why – and check out some delicious recipes!

1. You should make soup because: It’s the perfect meal

Vegetable-bean soups and stews are nutrient-rich, flavorful, satisfying, and easy to prepare. Plus, the ingredients deliver incredible health benefits: You get the fiber and resistant starch in beans, lentils, and split peas, which cannot be broken down by the human digestive system, but support the growth of beneficial of bacteria in the gut.1 

Pro tip: Add cruciferous veggies (such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) to your soup for a nutritional boost. Make sure you puree or finely chop the vegetables before adding them. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates. When the vegetable’s cell walls are broken by blending, chopping or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs)—compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects.2,3

Related: The cancer-fighting power of cruciferous vegetables

Plus: Vegetable-bean soups are also a great way to warm up in the winter. A vegetable-bean soup is the ultimate one-pot meal.  

Recipe #1: Cuban Black Bean Soup with Garlic Mashed “Potatoes”

Starving our microbial self: the deleterious consequences of a diet deficient in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates
The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention
Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis 

2. You should make soup because: It’s so convenient! 

Soup is the ultimate convenience food: You cook it once, but eat many times. You can make soups in big batches, then freeze some and eat the rest over the next few days. Soups keep well in the refrigerator for up to five days, taste even better the second or third day after the flavors have had time to meld. 

Pro tip: The time-honored way to make the most of produce that’s on its last legs is to make a big pot of soup. Us a low-salt vegetable stock (or carrot or tomato juice), chop up your veggies (add lots of Allium vegetables, such as onions, garlic, scallions, leeks or shallots for a flavor/nutrient boost), and toss in some vinegar, herbs and spices. Also add some dried or cooked beans, split peas or lentils for a little heft, and puree some of the soup to give it a creamy base. Let your imagination be your guide – or find inspiration in the Nutritarian Recipe Database. If you are going to freeze some soup, portion it in individual containers for easy thawing.

Recipe #2: Tuscan White Bean Soup

3. You should make soup because: It makes nutrients even more accessible!

Since the vegetables are gently simmered in the soup base, the nutrients are retained and some are even made more absorbable. Carotenoids, such as alpha- and beta-carotene (in carrots and yellow-orange vegetables), lutein (in green vegetables), and lycopene (in tomatoes), are more absorbable from cooked vegetables compared to raw vegetables. Cooking breaks down some structural components of the vegetables, making the carotenoids more accessible to the digestive system.4  

Many essential nutrients, such as niacin, folate, other B vitamins, and minerals, are water-soluble. With water-based cooking methods like steaming or boiling, water-soluble nutrients are lost in the cooking water. However, in a soup the water-soluble nutrients are retained.5

Pro Tip: Use carrot or tomato juice as your soup base instead of store-bought vegetable broth. You’ll cut out excess sodium and add more carotenoids.

Related: You Say Tomato – We Say Lycopene, a Protective Carotenoid to Fight Cancer, Heart Disease

Recipe #3: Tomato Florentine Soup

The effect of cooking on the phytochemical content of vegetables
Table of Nutrient Retention Factors Release 6, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

4. You should make soup because: It’s a weight loss tool

Soup is high in water content and is fiber-rich from beans and vegetables; soups are filling and satisfy the appetite, despite their low calorie density. A year-long weight loss study that assigned participants to two soups a day or two snacks a day – with the same number of calories – found that the soup group lost more weight than the snack group.6 Another study compared calorie consumption at lunch in two groups: one assigned given a low-calorie vegetable soup at the beginning of lunch and another given lunch without soup first. The vegetable soup group consumed 20 percent fewer total calories during the meal.7

Pro tip: Boost the flavor of your soup with Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks), herbs, and spices. Did you know that vinegar activates the same taste receptors as salt? Adding a bit to your soup gives you a depth of flavor that’s very satisfying. Experiment with different textures: leave the vegetables chunky, or puree some or all of the soup. Looking for crazy-easy prep? Throw some cut-up veggies and some no-salt vegetable juice (or water) into your Vitamix and follow the manufacturer’s directions to make a steaming soup in minutes. 

Recipe #4: Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

Plus, here’s  a bonus recipe. Enjoy!
Recipe #5: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Mushrooms

Provision of foods differing in energy density affects long-term weight loss
Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake

  1. Sonnenburg ED, Sonnenburg JL. Starving our microbial self: the deleterious consequences of a diet deficient in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates. Cell Metab 2014, 20:779-786.

  2. Royston KJ, Tollefsbol TO. The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep 2015, 1:46-51.

  3. Higdon J, Delage B, Williams D, Dashwood R. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research 2007, 55:224-236.

  4. Palermo M, Pellegrini N, Fogliano V. The effect of cooking on the phytochemical content of vegetables. J Sci Food Agric 2014, 94:1057-1070.

  5. USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors Release 6. Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2007.

  6. Rolls BJ, Roe LS, Beach AM, Kris-Etherton PM. Provision of foods differing in energy density affects long-term weight loss. Obes Res 2005, 13:1052-1060.

  7. Flood JE, Rolls BJ. Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake. Appetite 2007, 49:626-634

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.


Comments (0):



01/08/2021 12:24 PM

Hi Dr. Fuhrman, very nice post. In the past, I have usually made soups in my instant pot using a beef soup bone in water, adding some apple cider vinegar (apparently it helps break down collagen in the bone, which is good for us...?) , then adding some store bought beef broth paste.  Like to know your thoughts on this method as compared to the method mentioned in your email about soups. Thanks so much!!!

Dr. Ferreri replies:

01/08/2021 04:23 PM

In general, collagen is animal protein and is not recommended. Animal bones are likely to have high lead levels, and research does not suggest any health benefits from bone broth or collagen.

Small collagen peptides may be helpful for some people with osteoarthritis, but those are produced in a lab, not in bone broth.

More info on animal protein: https://www.drfuhrman.com/elearning/blog/7/eat-plant-protein-to-live-longer

Cindy Weinberger

01/08/2021 12:52 PM

Great article and tips. I especially liked the links to the informative studies.  I've been spending quite a bit of time trying to understand the best way to absorb nutrients. Info was very helpful.  I haven't bought store-bought broths in years.  I make a large pot of veggie broth at least once a week.  I make a soup using some and freeze the rest in 1-cup bags.  I am rarely without broth.  Tip:  Freeze your butternut squash peels, fennel fronds, shiitake mushroom stems, and odds and ends to pop into your veggie broth. I plan to make some chicken stock soon.  I recently had to use some good quality, low-sodium chicken broth, and it tasted like chemicals. Once you make your own, you'll never buy storebought.


Medina22 replies:

01/18/2021 06:42 PM

Cindy, I do the same with my scraps. Its great!


03/01/2021 10:42 PM

I love the photo of the ramekins at the top!